We sat down with one of the nation’s premier childhood nutrition experts, Jill Castle of The Nourished Child. As a successful businesswoman, Jill wears many hats – she’s an author, speaker, consultant, nutritionist and, most importantly, mom!
As a pediatric dietitian, Jill specializes in the field of nutrition for infants, toddlers, children and teens. Her desire is to help educate parents on how to feed their children in a balanced, nutritious way, and her nearly three decades of expertise and in-depth work with families was clearly evident during our talk. She took us through her thinking for how to introduce seafood to our young, picky eaters, dished with us about her go-to seafood favorites and shared advice for overcoming any anxiety about trying to cook seafood at home.
So, seafoodies, meet Jill Castle!
Tell us about your blog.
The Nourished Child blog has been running for a good 10-plus years now. So far I’ve probably shared more than 500 articles there that are focused on child nutrition and the feeding of infants, toddlers, children and teens.
Why do you love seafood?
Two reasons: It tastes great and it’s uniquely nutritious. With seafood I know I’m meeting my own needs and those of my children for nutrients like protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
What is your favorite seafood dish to make at home or order at a restaurant?
I love to make shrimp linguine at home, and my kids ask for it a lot. They also love my fish en papillote – cod or halibut inside folded paper and baked in the oven. And my husband makes a killer fish chowder! When we eat out, it is often at a Japanese restaurant that serves sushi. My favorite fish, cooked or raw, is salmon, without a doubt.
What’s next on your “must make” or “must order” seafood list?
Shrimp ceviche. I have an aunt who brings this appetizer every Thanksgiving and it just gets devoured! I haven’t made it myself, but it’s on my list for my next dinner party.
What are your tips for people who might be intimidated by the thought of preparing seafood at home?
I always say start with something light in flavor – like cod, tilapia or shrimp – and either stir-fry or bake it. For example, try a shrimp-and-vegetable stir-fry, which even kids can learn to make, or some baked cod with butter and breadcrumbs. In my experience – and I’m not a chef, just a regular mom who needs to make healthy food fast – this is the quickest and surest way to success.
Any words of wisdom for parents who have picky eaters at home? How did you get your kids to eat seafood?
I started what I call the fish habit early with my kids. They were eating pink fish – aka salmon – in infancy and toddlerhood. We lived in Boston at the time, so fresh fish was easy to find, and it was on the weekly menu rotation.
Helping kids learn to love fish begins with exposing them to fish – the various types, different forms, and varying flavors – early and often. Exposure to fish, without any pressure to actually eat it, is the first step. Include different kinds of fish on the family menu and don’t be afraid to flavor them with herbs, spices, soy sauce, butter, olive oil, etcetera.
Don’t worry if your picky eater won’t eat it. The strategy begins with getting it on the table. I discuss more strategies for picky eaters in my workbook, “Try New Food.” Fish is often a food that doesn’t come to the table until later in childhood; however, getting an early start can make a big difference. If you have an older child, start varying the protein in foods that have already been met with that child’s approval. For example, if your child enjoys beef tacos, try fish tacos. Keep everything else the same, but change the protein source from beef to fish.
Follow Jill Castle, MS, RDN:
Jill on Twitter: @pediRD
Jill on Instagram: i.am.pediRD
Jill on Pinterest: pediRD
Fish Tacos Recipe
Want to try one of Jill’s recipes? These fish tacos are sure to be a hit at the family dinner table!
Get the recipe here.