'Today' food contributor Siri Daly has advice for parents of picky eaters: 'Be patient and keep exposing them to different foods'

·Senior Lifestyle Editor
·5 min read
Siri Daly says she cooks with her kids whenever possible.
Siri Daly says she cooks with her kids whenever possible. "They love to bake with me," she says. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

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In the Daly household, Sundays are for homemade pizza. And Today food contributor Siri Daly says she and her husband, Today co-host Carson Daly, take their weekend pizza-making ritual very seriously.

"We're very much into Pizza Sundays," says the mom of four. "Recently we redid our backyard and put in a pizza oven, so we go all out: I make the dough the night before, and we have a system in place. Carson makes his homemade sauce and we have a really good Italian market around the corner, so we get cheese there."

"It's become a whole thing where the kids get involved and we set up a whole station on the [kitchen] island," she continues. "It's kind of an all-day Sunday thing we do year-round. In the winter, Carson's out there. Last Sunday it was pouring rain and he had a tarp up cooking pizzas."

The craziest pizza topping they've come up with was a creative use of leftovers sitting in their fridge. "We had linguine and clams once from a restaurant and we poured that on the pizza," says Daly.

(Photo: @siriouslydelicious|Instagram)
(Photo: @siriouslydelicious|Instagram)

Daly loves pizza so much, in fact, that Italian food would be her choice if she could only eat one cuisine for the rest of her life. "I would have a really hard time without cheese so I feel like I'd have to go towards the Italian — like pasta," she says. "I love carbs."

Another food the author of Siriously Delicious: 100 Nutritious (and Not-So Nutritious) Simple Recipes for the Real Home Cook, couldn't live without? Sushi.

"I love to go to sushi bars and do their 'trust me' menus where you sit at the bar and they bring out what they want," she says. "Some people are afraid to do that, but if you go to a really good sushi restaurant, it's up there as my favorite food. Every bite is so amazing and it's a slow experience."

Daly says while her younger kids can still be picky eaters, she's loved seeing her 13-year-old son, Jack, become more active in the kitchen. "He loves to make his own scrambled eggs or sauce for his ramen," she says, "We've been doing Chopped at home, which is really fun."

Earlier this year, Daly and Jack competed against each other in an at-home version of the popular cooking show. "We've done others where he's made the baskets for us or he's been a judge," she says. "We all really love food. At first, for a while, I think you just have to be patient and keep exposing [young kids] to different foods and really let them get in there with you. They will get it. It's so exciting to watch Jack's love and passion for it grow."

"I love to get my kids involved in the kitchen because I'm not much of a crafty mom," she adds, "and that's where I let them get messy and get their hands in the bowls. They love to bake with me."

Daly recently partnered with Juicy Juice to create a collection of "SIRIously Fun" recipes for the brand. Among them is a granola bar made with Juicy Juice apple juice.

"There's this apple cinnamon granola bar I make and I always keep them frozen in my freezer and my kids love them," she says. "When you make your own bars, you know exactly what goes into them."

When she and Carson Daly, who also hosts The Voice, are cooking more grown-up meals, Daly says they often listen to The Voice coach Blake Shelton's tunes. "We're on a country music kick," she shares. "A lot of Blake Shelton. But I also just love easy classic rock — Fleetwood Mac or music that has a beat but you're not going to want to dance while you're cooking. It's easy background music."

So is there anything this foodie and cookbook author just can't eat?

"I don't like fennel when it's not roasted or cooked," she says. "That licorice flavor — I'm not a huge fan of it. And pumpkin pie. I like pumpkin flavors. I like pumpkin cheesecake. But there's something about pumpkin pie: I think I had a bad experience with it as a kid and I can't get over it."

(Photo: Juicy Juice)
(Photo: Juicy Juice)

Apple Cinnamon Granola Bars

Courtesy of Siri Daly

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

  • 1 cup crisp rice cereal

  • 1/2 cup dried apples, diced

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter)

  • 1/2 cup Juicy Juice 100% Juice, Apple

  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.

  2. Spread out oats evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

  3. In a bowl, combine rice cereal, apples, cinnamon, salt and toasted oats.

  4. Stir together the brown sugar, honey, peanut butter, vanilla and apple juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Let the mixture come to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved, about five minutes.

  5. Pour the juice mixture over everything and stir until well blended.

  6. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to extend over the sides of the pan. Grease the parchment paper.

  7. Using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture into the prepared pan, pressing lightly into an even layer.

  8. Place in the refrigerator and chill until completely cool and firm; 30 minutes to an hour. Using the parchment paper as handles, lift the chilled bar mixture out of the pan. Cut into 8 bars and serve, or store individually wrapped in plastic wrap for breakfast or snacks.

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