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Eating in: Mealtime is family time

 Feeding children at home can quickly become a battle of wills. Simpsonville mom and professional baker Jen Evans has developed a few strategies to make mealtime enjoyable for everyone, while still feeding her family a healthy diet.  

Evans is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 2. She also eats a vegan diet – all of her baked good are vegan – and she avoids gluten and soy in her own food. Evans’ son was diagnosed with autism and has some sensory issues with food textures, which can require further creativity in the kitchen. But rather than seeing hurdles, Evans stretches her creativity. 

“It took a lot of research to find things he likes,” she said. “I didn’t push them to be vegan. He likes fruits and vegetables galore. My daughter will eat anything I put in front of her.”

What works for Evans? Patience and thinking outside the box.

·      Don’t force the issue. Evans doesn’t make her children eat a new food if they don’t like it, but she does continue to give them opportunities to try it. “Watching their eyes light up when trying something new has been great,” she said.

·      Be consistent. “A lot of parents tend to give in to the will of the kids,” Evans said. “As you progress, children’s taste buds change. My 2-year-old loves broccoli. She eats a lot of greens, but that comes from consistency.”

·      Mix it up. “There’s probably no rule as to what children should eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner,” Evans said. “Society has taught us that it’s bacon and eggs for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and a protein for dinner.” 

Evans ignores that and doesn’t limit what she serves. At her house, the kids might have fruit for breakfast and pancakes for dinner. “As long as they are eating something that’s healthy and beneficial to their bodies, that’s OK,” she said.

·      Let them help. Evans said involving her children in the kitchen makes them more interested in what ends up on the plate. “Seeing it being made from scratch expands their minds more and prepares their taste buds,” she said. “And it’s fun. It’s family time.”

·      Plan ahead. “We made it a point to stick to a budget,” Evans said. “The easiest thing to do is meal prep. Make the food for the entire week. When you are on the drive home, it can be the easiest thing to go to a drive through. When there’s a meal at home, you can go and spend time with your family.”

See Evans’ creative cakes and more at

What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street by Felicita Sala (Prestel Junior, ages 6 – 9)

Much more than a cookbook, this beautifully illustrated story will give children a window on favorite dishes from around the world. Explore the melting pot of cultures that enrich our country – and try some new recipes that get kids in the kitchen and engage them in a way that will intrigue their taste buds.