In case you haven’t figured it out by now I am a little bit of a foodie. I love food and trying new things to eat. I guess I should since it’s my job to get kid’s to eat more! I love fish, but I know many of you don’t feel the same way, so I am presenting you with Tilapia! If you haven’t heard of this fish, it is mild tasting and relatively inexpensive. My kids eat this and other parents have told me that they have a lot of luck with this fish in particular. Of course, my hope is that you will be expanding the variety of food you eat as well. Remember, monkey see, monkey do! Your kid needs to see you eating it to give it a try!
I buy my Tilapia in a large frozen bag that has individual frozen fillets in it. The best part is that if I forget to pull these out to defrost, I can just stick them in a bowl of water for 20 minutes at the most and they are ready to cook. This simplifies things for me, but if you prefer fresh fish you shouldn’t have a hard time finding it. Most stores carry this now and the fillets will likely be larger so you can cut them into strips for fish sticks, if you would like.
Normally, I put 2-3 fillets in a non-stick skillet with 1 tbs of butter and 1 tbs of olive oil. I let them cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side and top with a little lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. This is my favorite way to eat it, but I also want to expose Sam to a variety of cooking methods, textures, and variety, so I changed it last night. I wanted to give the exact instructions for the cooking-phobics because it is so easy! Feel free to add and omit spices to your choosing. Here it is:
3 Tilapia Fillets
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
1-2 tbs of butter or olive oil
1 tsp of onion powder
1 tsp of ground mustard
1 tsp of Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix breadcrumbs, cheese, and spices together in a shallow bowl. Pat the Tilapia dry. Place fish in the bowl and press mixture into the fish, coating all sides. Put on a non-stick griddle or pan and cook for 3-5 on each side, depending on thickness of fillet.
You could also dip the fillets in egg, mayo, or honey mustard before placing in the breadcrumbs, which will give it a thicker coating. These would also work well on a sandwich.
Sam helped me by shaking in the spices, this wasn’t an exact science, so I just monitored to make sure too much didn’t go in. He also patted the fish dry and pushed the breadcrumbs into the fish.
I left one half of a filet plain so that Issac could eat some with us. Quinoa was our side dish. If you haven’t heard of this, it is a Peruvian grain that is high in nutrients and protein. It has an interesting texture and is very tasty. I boiled about 3/4 cup of this in chicken stock to give it more flavor and then drizzled olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic into it.
Sam really loved the quinoa last night. About 6 months ago he wasn’t that interested in eating this, even though he had many times as a baby. I think as he got older the texture started to throw him off a bit so he rejected it, but I just kept on presenting it and eating it in front of him. It didn’t happen over night, but last night he asked for seconds!
As for the veggies, they usually need some encouragement. Last night we pretended they were little white and green trees (cauliflower and broccoli) and chewed it up like bears (biting really hard because these veggies are a little tougher). I made sure to give him smaller pieces that wouldn’t be too much to handle, but after eating those he surprised me and grabbed a big piece of cauliflower off his Dad’s plate and ate it. I was really proud of him for eating so many, this was a big improvement for him!
Now that I am starting to transition Isaac to table foods, I try to have him eat what we are eating as much of the time as possible. He is in the very early stages of table foods (8 months old) so it is still fairly limited. Tilapia works perfect though as a transition food. I mashed some of the fish into his defrosted, home made broccoli and sweet potatoes on the left, as you can see it is pretty thick. I also put some small flakes aside for me to feed him individually. The Tilapia is so soft that it is very easy to chew and he really liked it. He also tried a taste of quinoa, but this texture was still a little too much for him to handle. You can grind the quinoa up in a food processor and freeze, if you want. Although Sam usually loves this fish, he didn’t go crazy on it like he usually does, which is okay, but with Isaac eating it he had some extra motivation and we needed that last night. He took particular notice when we praised Isaac for eating the fish and then wanted to imitate so he could get praised! Praising another child can be very powerful motivation to a kid.
Some other factors that made the meal successful:
I was a little organized ahead of time.
Sam helped me cook the food and was thus invested in it.
We sat down and ate together once everything was ready.
Do you have any Tilapia recipes you would like to share? Have you had any luck with this with your kid? Would you give it a try?