Waging War On My Non-Eaters Eating Habits

A couple of months ago, I decided to grab the proverbial bull by the horns and proactively put an end to Ava’s poor eating habits, or try to, anyway. It was after another failed meal attempt, one involving mashed potatoes, that had madam looking into her plate and saying… “I don’t like it” without even tasting it! I mean I realize kids can live on far less than clearly we neurotic mothers think they can, but even I was bored of Ava’s diet which consisted exclusively of yoghurt, peas, fish fingers, apples, banana’s and sweets… lets not forget the sweets, by far Ava’s favorite food group.

I decided that I would employ whatever means possible to at least get Ava to taste foods she wasn’t familiar with. Let me explain, Ava is such a picky eater, that if it doesn’t come in a Woolies box with crumbs on it, she won’t eat it, heck she won’t even taste it! And I decided that was just utter bullsh*t.  So I declared war on her meals and so far we’ve had great success. Sure, it’s taken a couple of evenings of sitting on the naughty step before she would taste something. But it has worked. She now knows that is no longer allowed to simply she doesn’t like it until she’s tasted it. And the amazing thing is, she actually likes most of what I’ve given her, once she got over her initial distrust of having to taste something she wasn’t familiar with.

She did, out of choice, once sit on the naughty step in excess of 20 minutes, out of sheer determination to not taste the Tuna & Broccoli bake, but guess what? Now she loves it. And it has made my life so much easier. Chicken A-la-king, mild fruity curries, tuna, mash, you name it, Missy is eating it.

My latest victory was getting her to tuck (with gusto) into a Honey, Apricot & Chicken Tagine, which is one of my favorite recipes and just the most divine meal for winter time for you and your littlies or even a dinner party!  I got this recipe at a recent evening at Cook Studio.

chicken tagine


  • 8x Free-range chicken breast, sliced
  • 2 Onions, chopped
  • 2 Teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 2 Teaspoons of grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons of ground coriander
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tins of coconut cream
  • 1 cup of dried apricots
  • 1 teaspoon of mazeina
  • three quarter cup of sherry
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 3 tablespoons of red curry paste
  • 1 punnet of baby marrows
  • 1  punnet of patty pans
  • Salt & pepper to season


  1. Place the dried fruit and sherry in a small bowl & microwave for 2 – 3 minutes until the fruit is soft.

  2. Fry the onions in a little oil

  3. Add the spices, paste, garlic, ginger & fry the chicken in the spices

  4. Add the apricots and water and stir until the chicken is cooked

  5. Add the coconut milk, honey & vegetables and sprinkle over a teaspoon mazeina (this stops the cream from splitting) and cook on the stove, or in the oven, covered for an hour until tender.

  6. Sprinkle over some fresh chopped coriander (I left this out for Ava’s portion) and serve with couscous.

Ava loved this meal! Even I was surprised. While it is spicey, it’s not at all burny and I was super thrilled when she wolfed it down, no problems.

I’m learning as a mother, that sometimes I have to do things that I don’t like, or that my children don’t like, but that they need to learn, so forcing Ava to just taste new foods was really hard in the beginning, but the more we’ve done it, the more I’ve strengthened my resolve and the more she has been willing to try.

There are just some battles that as parents we simply HAVE to win & I feel this is one of them!

So we are slowly winning the war

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  • Reply Rene

    Why does food have to be such a struggle? I never thought I would have that problem with my kids, seeing that I love all food, and just thought they would follow my example. Then daughter was born and she just hated all food. People would tell me that I should just leave it and she will eat when she’s hungry, but she just wouldn’t. We forced her to eat many times. Just after 4 years old she finally started to enjoy some food, and most evenings now she would finish her dinner. Her only problem now is green things. She won’t eat anything green (except avo, she loves that). At first if there was something green in her food she would not touch the plate, but we have it now where she just takes it out and put it aside.

    Her brother on the other hand was about 3 months old, sitting in his Bumbo seat, and I was getting some laundry together when I heard his older sister saying “Come on boetie…eat your peanuts”. I ran out and she was busy shoving peanuts in his mouth while he was happily swallowing it. That was his first introduction to solids. We only officially started solids later, but since then he would eat anything (and with anything I’m including dog poo). That was until he turned 2 years old. Now he only wants milk and nothing else. I’m hoping it’s just a stage.

    June 27, 2013 at 3:44 pm
  • Reply panjels

    Well done!!!… thanks for sharing your breakthro and this YUM looking recipe!

    June 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm
  • Reply Sue Stuart

    I so need to try that! Katy gagged on mashed potatoes and won’t even look at them now!

    June 27, 2013 at 5:41 pm
  • Reply Hanneke

    Sharon, I sooo agree with this post! We have persevered with this ‘war’ and it is soo worth it.(It was NOT easy, strong willed child verses strong willed parent!) Currently we eat a lot of our dinners at other peoples places and it is so nice that our girls won’t make a fuss and eat/try what is in front of them! Keep up the battle, it is worth the fight!!

    June 27, 2013 at 6:56 pm
  • Reply sue

    Ok please tell me more …. how to do actually start this battle? Do you just one evening pop down a plate of unfamiliar food and say TASTE IT or else? and then begin the battle? Mine just refuses then dissolves in tears, and then has a meltdown crying for Milky …. and wont eat ANYTHING thereafter! Please help … I am desperate to win this battle too – as a Chef myself!

    June 28, 2013 at 3:10 pm
  • Reply Julia

    I still have this battle with Child1. He won’t even try stuff. I’ve given up but I am slowly becoming more hard core and forcing the issue. I get that many of his issues are sensory but surely one at least needs to try something? I told him the other day that one needs to eat something 17 times before one decides that one doesn’t like it. He told me that it’s actually 3 times. Bloody smartass. As if he even eats something 3 times! I am soooo going to use that against him.

    July 16, 2013 at 4:46 pm
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