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Most children aren't prepared to swallow a can of spinach like the famous cartoon Popeye, even if you do tell them how strong it will make them. But if you have a picky eater, you may worry that he is not getting enough iron in his diet at all. Broccoli and spinach are not the only sources of iron -- there are lots of other ways of providing him with this nutrient.
Fruits and Vegetables
If your picky eater does not like green iron-rich vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, try sweet potatoes instead. This versatile vegetable can be made into chips, soup, mashed or roasted with a drizzle of honey. Peas are another source of iron that can be made more appealing on a pizza, mixed with mayo or another favorite sauce or swallowed up in a pasta dish. Strawberries contain iron and if your child does not like eating them whole, try pureeing them into a sauce or turning into a fruit smoothie with bananas. Try to use the sauce for dipping instead of for ice cream, as the Brookhaven National Laboratory points out that milk products are known to hinder the body's absorption of iron.
Meat and Fish
Beef is a good source of iron, and meatballs can be a way of making it softer and more child-friendly. If your picky eater is not keen on meatball sauce, serve them with a sweet and sour sauce or on cocktail sticks with a favorite dip. Turkey is another good source of iron, and you can turn turkey mince into burgers or even lasagna. Haddock contains iron, too. You can make this dish more palatable by dipping the fish in egg and then wholemeal breadcrumbs mixed with grated Parmesan before shallow frying or baking.
Bread, Pasta and Cereal
Whole wheat bread is a good source of iron but if your picky eater only likes white bread, you can buy this fortified with iron. Oats are a way of getting iron into your child and do not have to be served as a bowl of porridge. Try making oatmeal cookies, flapjacks or a fruit crumble topping, or dip strips of chicken in beaten egg and then oats before baking. If your picky eater likes pasta, you can buy pasta that is fortified with iron and serve it with her favorite ingredients, hot or cold.
Eggs contain iron and are a versatile food that can be easily disguised if need be. Find a pancake recipe containing eggs, or dip bread in beaten egg before shallow-frying. Try mixing scrambled egg with some rice and peas for a fried rice-style dish. Lentils are a source of iron -- cook them with the vegetables your child eats and puree to make soup. Chickpeas and other canned beans provide iron and can be liquidized with garlic to make hummus or other dips for your picky eater.
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