Nurture your kids' curiosity and creative side by encouraging them to arrange fresh foods in fun ways.
Just like the ambiance of a nice restaurant might have you eating foods that you ordinarily avoid, making a game out of eating fruits and vegetables (and by playing and eating right along) can get kids to try and enjoy foods they used to 'dislike strongly' (rather than 'hate').
Here at Peas, we know that the eating experience is very important to kids. We love the looks of shear delight as kids hold, dip and dunk our Veggie Wedgies into organic ketchup. Those moments are the highlights of tradeshows and other events, watching a child smile while eating a broccoli fry and watching their parent's eyes bulge out of their head in disbelief!
How else can you and your kids have fun together with healthy foods?
"Name this fruit?" photo from "Kids: 3 Reasons to Play With Your Food" on http://whatscookingwithkids.com
- bring your kids with you to the store. Let them pick out a fruit or vegetable of their choice. Let them select, weigh and bag it. Let them (with help, as needed) take it from the cart to the check-out belt, let them do it all. Prepare this new item together. I used to play this game with myself in college. Every time I went grocery shopping, I'd look for a new-to-me vegetable and just buy it. I'd bring it home and consult Deborah Madison's - Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, prepare and enjoy it. It was always a highly satisfying experience, even when my dish wasn't perfect, and for some kids, the "I made it myself!" factor cannot be underestimated! And you'll be learning too.
- have a taste test. As a family, try 2 or 3 different varieties of apples, for example. Talk about how they are different, ask each person which is their favorite, discuss textures and flavors, embrace your own descriptive language and encourage you child to join the conversation. Ask them what they think?
- give it a year or two and then try again. Humans are born with innate dilikes to certain tastes, particularly bitterness and astringency. From an evolutionary standpoint, this is useful because many poisonous plants taste bitter and/or astringent, so this innate reaction of disliking bitter foods makes sense. However, over a lifetime, a person's ability to detect these unpleasant tastes degenerates. In fact, by age 65, a person can only taste 25% of what they could taste when they were born. As sad as it may be to think about in that context, use this fact to your advantage. Kids really do 'grow out of' dislikes. If your child had a repulsion to a particular food when they were 1 or 2, at age 5 they may not be able to taste the exact compound that they reacted to at 1 or 2. They may just shrug at eat it. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Have you had a new-food-breakthrough playing with your child?