Today Show Chef Joel Gamoran Reveals How To Make Any Recipe Kid-Friendly - Exclusive

If you're cooking for kids, particularly little ones, it can feel like your options are pretty limited: chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, and maybe some buttered noodles with "hidden" zucchini sneakily pureed into the sauce. However, children don't have to subsist on a steady diet of bland, beige foods. With a little creativity and clever plating, even a seemingly picky eater can enjoy a much more diverse menu.

So says "Today Show" chef Joel Gamoran, who recently teamed up with "Sesame Street" characters Elmo and Cookie Monster to create recipe videos that can be viewed on the Yummly app. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Gamoran said that what kids care about most is being able to "interact" with what's on their plate. "I think that the recipe has to end in something interactive. No one really talks about this, but as long as there's something for the kid to dip into, or to make the food a little bit more playful, I would say, go for it. That's why you see all these chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs," the father of two said. "A recipe I would try with kids are things like banana bread cooked in funny shapes, and interesting ways."

Let kids play with their food

What parent hasn't told their child, "Don't play with your food?" These stern dinner table admonishments are misplaced, according to Gamoran. "First and foremost, it has to be playful! I've learned that with my kids," he said. "They want to whisk it, they want to shake it, they want to smush it, they want to throw it, anything like that. Doughs, [things] that you can shake up in a jar — those are what makes kid food, kid food." If the food continues to entertain a child once it's served, you're more likely to see more empty plates. "As long as it's interactive and you can play with it, then it's absolutely great and versatile," Gamoran explained.

That's why Gamoran isn't too keen on the "picky eater" label. "What you realize is there's 'picky eaters' and there's kids that maybe don't love things. When they make the food, they're so much more open to trying it," he said. "So I think as long as it's interactive, to me, it's a kid friendly recipe."

Download the Yummly app to watch Chef Joel Gameron demonstrate recipes with Cookie Monster and Elmo.