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Please the pickiest eaters with these two simple side dishes

We introduced table food to our daughter when she was six months old. From the very beginning we allowed her to control whether or not she ate something and how much she ate of it. We chose not to puree her food or to feed it to her with a spoon. We cut most items into French fry-like strips and gave them to her to do what she liked with them. And 99% of the time, she ate them.

Now, our daughter loves food. Bananas, avocados, toast and peanut butter, just about anything except my homemade kale chips – much to my chagrin and my hubby’s joy!

As her taste has become more discriminating with each new dish she tries, I have had to become more creative with the food I cook in order to keep her palate satisfied and the food healthy.

Here are two side dishes that are commonly found on our supper plates:

Oven-baked yam fries

These are Z’s absolute favourite. She will choose these over anything else and eat them until she can’t eat any more.


1-3 yams depending on size of yams and number of eaters
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic
Any additional spices


  1. Preheat oven to 400° C. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and set aside.
  2. Peel and cut yams into fry-like shapes. (They don’t have to be too skinny since they become soft when cooked). Put fries in a bowl and toss with olive oil. Crush a few cloves of garlic and add additional spices (cumin, chilli powder, etc.) into the bowl. Toss the mixture.
  3. Spread yam fries evenly on cookie sheet and place in the oven. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, flipping fries after about 15 minutes. 

Coconut rice

Z loves rice, but I’ve noticed lately that she tends to eat rice that has a little more flavour. And we love all things coconut at our house: coconut butter, coconut water, dried coconut, coconut milk, and coconut oil!

Don’t shy away from coconut products because of the high saturated fat – because it is comes from a plant source it differs greatly from saturated animal fats.

It has taken me many years to finally be able to cook rice properly without burning it or undercooking it. Here’s how I do it.


1 cup whole grain rice
1 can coconut milk


  1. Place one cup of rice in a pot. Add one can of coconut milk and enough water to make two cups total of liquid.
  2. Turn the burner on high and wait until the mixture starts to boil. Turn the burner down to low and set your timer for 25 minutes. Let it cool for five minutes before eating.

If we have any leftover rice, I often add cinnamon, cloves, raisins, and dried coconut to make for a healthy, tasty, sweet snack, and maybe even a little maple syrup. Enjoy!

Love what you eat. Eat what you love.

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