How to Introduce Celery to Toddlers
When most of us think of eating celery, we usually think of dieting, which makes celery not much fun! It’s true; celery is incredibly low in calories, and parents who struggle with putting weight on their kids (due to feeding challenges) usually skip right over celery. But this crunchy veggie offers a variety of ways to present nutritionally packed meals and snacks! Here are a few tasty ideas on how to introduce celery to your child.
Stuff Celery: One of my favorite ways to invite children to try celery is to stuff them with yummy treats. I like to cut the celery stalks in half and use the celery’s nook for nutritionally enriched foods, e.g., tuna or egg salad or the classic ‘ants on a log’ (peanut butter and raisins). My personal favorite filler that I use in feeding therapy is celery nachos! The flavor combination is delicious and it’s a great way to get several types of protein (meat, beans and cheese) in one bite. Our picture here is of the Snack Mat with celery, ground meat, refried beans, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream as a fun dipper. This will tempt even the pickiest protein eater!
Sip Celery: A lot of the families I work with in feeding therapy have children with chronic inflammation due to allergies, celiac disease, autism, etc. These parents oftentimes juice fruits and vegetables (including celery) because the liquid is known to decrease inflammation. Because of celery’s high water content (96% water) it is a great veggie to give to kids who have difficulties drinking enough water. Celery is also packed with fiber, vitamin K and potassium and is loaded with electrolytes!
Supplement Celery: Celery is a main ingredient in things like pasta and macaroni salads, which are common at picnics, holidays and family events. But celery can be added to almost anything, and it adds nutrition, flavor and crunch! You can add celery to tacos, tuna sandwiches and even in homemade salsa. Or, try adding chopped celery to vegetable soups, stir fries, stews, hamburger patties, meatloaf or meatballs. Celery can also be pickled or put in a relish recipe with cheese, herbs and olive oil. Yum! Finally, another way I use celery with kids is to blend it with sour cream to make a smooth salad dressing that is the perfect texture for dipping. Liquid nutrition? Check!
Dipping Celery: Slicing celery into little dippers make this veggie a treat that kids can dunk into tasty dips! Dip celery into a variety of sauces filled with protein like hummus, peanut butter and cheese sauce for a satisfying snack. Consider offering your child sliced celery sticks with a dairy dip such as yogurt, cream cheese or creamy salad dressing for a healthy snack alternative. My personal favorite dipper for celery is the buffalo sauce that comes with my chicken wings!
How does your family enjoy celery? What foods do you stuff in your celery log? Let us know and use the hashtags: #ezpzfun #celery #snacks.
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 28 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating tendencies. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning feeding products.