Rudey's Room

Break Your Picky Eater with This Recipe

“It was breakfast time.

Father was eating his egg.

Mother was eating her egg.

Gloria was sitting in a high chair and eating her egg too.

Francis was eating bread and jam.

“What a lovely egg!” said Father.

“It’s just the thing to start the day off right,” said Mother.

Frances did not eat her egg.” *

No, she did not.

Francis turned up her nose to anything but bread and jam. She was a classic picky eater.

So her mom tried to break her … she tried to trick Francis into eating what she served. She started by following Francis’ fancy. She packed/served her bread and jam. Only. 

At breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Francis got bread and jam. bread and jam. and bread and jam. and bread and jam.

Every day, bread and jam.

Until at school lunch she was like, wait, what did your mom pack you? what are you eating? and thought I’d like to have what you’re eating

I don’t think this tactic would work with my Stella.

I have little doubt that she’d eat a cheese quesadilla every . single . night.

I wouldn’t even take a bet.

If I fed her a cheese quesadilla every dinner, she’d be geeked. If a cheese quesadilla or I suppose buttered noodles was what was dished, she’d gobble it up without complaint.

It would be beautiful. It would be easy.

There’s be no complaining. There’s be no battles.

She’d be in cheese-quesadilla heaven.

There’s be no just give it a try or you have to have two bites or this is delicious food. There are children in the world who are starving, who’d be thrilled if they had this to eat.  

And then I think, maybe I should I give in to her fancy? Dinner is so easy when I give her what she wants. 

I understand picky. I’m not a paint-by-numbers model when it comes to eating. I was the kid who asked my mom at parties, “what did you make?” I’m that vegetarian who likes fish tacos. Bottomline, I’m not the easiest eater. So the apple doesn’t fall …

I consider: What am I going for? She’s happy as a peach with cheese quesadillas.

But, in good conscience, I can’t do that.

It’s my job to round out her diet with more than cheese and bread.

Listen, cheese and bread is incredible! I’d probably live out my days on bread and cheese if I could.

But I know it’s not what’s best. It’s not what nourishes my body to run.

So we continue to try to move her onto our side.

It’s hard, I admit.

We want peace at dinner where we walk through our days and chit chat. And truthfully, sometimes table time is brutal.

She complains. We’re frustrated.

Despite her dirty/sad looks, we keep trying to add variety. in a rather kid-friendly way.

We both are always looking for recipes to appeal to the whole family. My husband bought me this book for Mother’s Day a couple years ago and it’s a go-to.

This is where I found a winner.

So, I’d like to share a recipe that gained a “mom I like this.”

We do a thumbs up, a thumbs down … and all of the variations in between. This got between a middle ground and a thumbs up, so I consider it a big win. In essence this means, it’s a recipe I can try again. It’s recipe that hopefully hits the table without an “I don’t want to eat that.”

Here’s the link. 

Roasted Squash and Bacon Pasta

What You Need

  • 2 lb. butternut or other winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 thick-cut bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 Tbs. salt, plus more, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. rigatoni or other large pasta shape
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

My additions 

  • 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 5 – 6 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
 What You Do
  • Preheat an oven to 424 ºF.
  • Line a nonstick baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the squash, carrots, onion, and bacon with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the sage and season with salt and pepper. Flatten the vegetables into a single layer. Roast until the squash and carrots are caramelized and tender and the bacon is crispy, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Add the 2 Tbs. salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
  • Return the pasta to the pot. My addition calls for the heavy whipping cream here. Then add the squash mixture and toss for 1 minute over high heat, adding as much of the cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce. Add the 1/2 cup cheese and toss, then serve immediately.
  • Pass additional cheese at the table.


  • I pick around the bacon, but you could easily make it on two separate pans if you so wanted. I actually I like the bacon flavor in my pasta. The first time I made it, my husband asked to add more of the vegetables next time. This was the addition of carrots. I’d also consider adding spinach to the pasta at the end. Lastly, next time I’ll probably sautée the onions as they burn quickly in the oven.

Do you have a recipe that works for your picky eater? If so, please share.



P. S. If you’ve got kiddos like my youngest, try reading the book Tales for Very Picky Eaters. They’ll like The Tale of the Disgusting Broccoli and The Tale of the Repulsive Milk. It’s fodder for conversation.

* excerpt from Bread and Jam for Francis

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