Here are ten Good Eating ideas edited from “Welcome to the Table’s”, Eve Asamson:
- Baby-Size it. Baby vegetables are cuter, sweeter, and less intimidating than “grown-up” vegetables, and using the “baby” prefix may just be what it takes for kids to give them a try. Baby peas, baby beets, baby carrots (especially the kind with greenery attached), baby potatoes, baby Brussels sprouts, and baby greens are the perfect size for kids.
- Add butter. At least to kids, who are more sensitive to bitter tastes, most vegetables taste better with butter and a dash of salt, or even a sprinkle of cheese. When you offer “buttery beans” or “cheesy broccoli,” formerly suspicious foods can feel more familiar and approachable.
- Let your food touch. Whereas some kids don’t want their food to touch, a brightly colored omelet, or mult-colored layered sandwich might give a timid eater the incentive to try mixed tastes. Giving the colorful dish a fun name can even make it a delicious adventure (an omlette with red & green sweet peppers might be called a “confetti” omelet). Allowing kids to participate in preparation makes it more enticing.
- Pilfer from pop culture. Bright yellow summer squash might take on the name of a certain square yellow fellow of cartoon fame. Do your kids adore a particular pop star? Apply his or her name—Randy Kaplan Carrots, anyone? Raffi Red Cabbage? Find the
similarity between the icon and the food for a sure hit!
- Use humor. Who says food can’t be funny? A study from Cornell University
demonstrated that kids are much more likely to help themselves to veggies if they have
humorous names, like X-ray Vision Carrots, Silly Dilly Green Beans, or Power Punch
Broccoli (vegetables with silly names had double the takers in the study).
- Get artistic. Make a plate into a “portrait” of your child made from vegetables (radish slices for eyes, a strip of yellow bell pepper or a nose, a tomato wedge for a smile, sprouts for hair?). Try a miniature nature scene with broccoli florets for trees over a bed of lettuce leaf “grass” with bits of shredded beets and red cabbage for flowers and a path of cucumber slices, and some healthy dipping sauce or salad dressing as a pond?
- Go raw. While roasting and stir-frying may make vegetables more appealing to adults, alot of children prefer vegetables raw. Journey beyond carrots and celery, and try some purple cauliflower florets, multi-colored bell pepper strips, “half-moon” cucumbers, mild radishes, kohlrabi cut into sticks, shredded beets, and small tomatoes speared with fancy toothpicks or shrimp forks (little utensils for little people). Change up those side dishes of fries or chips with some raw veggies.
- Get dippy. As long as you’ve got out the raw vegetables, add some extra flavor through dips and dressings. Dipping is definately fun! Dressing like honey-mustard or ranch are readily available, but kick up the nutrition with hummus, guacamole, mild (or fruit) salsa, yogurt-based dips, or even peanut (or seed) butters. You can also add to the color pallet by mixing mixing sour cream with a dash of sea salt, and then mix with a veggie pureé. Ideal colors come from beets (pinks to cranberry), spinach or peas (greens), pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and carrots (orange), purple sweet potatoes (purple).
- Play games. The “Tasting Game” can be fun and encourages bravery in the face of palate shyness. Try this game for snack time; have the child cover their eyes with their hands (or a sleep mask or kerchief, whatever they are most comfortable with) and feed the child small bites of different foods. The child’s job is to guess what the food is. You can name categories such as sweet or sour, spicy or mild, or creamy or crunchy. Maybe the child can ask a certain number of questions before venturing a guess.
- Make it an event. Healthful foods can certainly become an adventure. Steam an artichoke, put out individual bowls of lemon butter or italian dressing, and make a family ritual out of pulling off the leaves and sliding them through your teeth, then peeling and cutting the heart and dividing it up between everyone. Grow cherry tomatoes in a planter or green peas on a trellis, then harvest the veggies with your child. Then choose a recipe to use them in that is kid-friendly to make. Take a weekly family field trip to the Co-op and/or farmer’s market and let the kids choose a “new” or “fave” veggie to serve with dinners that week.
When all is said and done, these are the traditions your children will remember, and the unique education will encourage healthy eating as an adult. Lood forward to the time when they honor your efforts by teaching their own children about eating healthy foods in a fun and fearless way.
Good eating really can be fun!
For more recipes from “Welcome to the Table,” click here.
For more Kid-Friendly recipes and DIY projects from Brattleboro Food Co-op, click here.