Getting kids to try new flavor combinations can help keep us from going crazy, if nothing else. Personally, preparing the same things over and over again makes me nuts. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
Thanks to the great folks at Juicy Juice® for making this flavorful fun post possible. As always, my opinions, comments and love for discovering new flavor combinations are my own.
From a broader perspective, encouraging diversity in our diets also might help us survive a sudden departure from the menu of a favorite food, due to cost or availability. But beyond all that, developing our kids’ palates broadens their horizons, introducing them to new cuisines, places, cultures, languages and peoples, and that’s just flavorful fun!
Having said that, I don’t pretend for a second to have conquered my kids’ finicky eating. They are highly suspicious of many vegetables, and, inexplicably, many fruits as well. It hasn’t always been this way. When they were very young, they ate everything.
Then one day, they didn’t.
Ever since, I’ve worked to find ways for them to try new things. I’ve found techniques that work and many that don’t. It’s a work in progress.
What I can say for sure, in our case at least, is it’s possible to coax them into trying new things. I’ve accepted that I can’t really control what they eat, but I can control what I offer them.
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With that, here are 3 tips for getting the kids to try new flavor combinations, plus a tip about a new website designed to help us all, featuring Jeff Mauro from the Food Network:
1. Get Into the Garden
The benefits of having kids help out in the garden are many, too many to count really. But one of the most unexpected benefits for me has been their surprising willingness to try new foods and flavors while out there. I want to make clear, this includes vegetables they would normally recoil from at home. Go figure.
It’s hard to explain, but I’ve seen it over and over again. And not just with my kids, either, but with whole classrooms of kids at the school garden. I’ve had parents come to me repeatedly to say things like, “Tell me again how you got my kid to eat snow peas?” The answer is as profound as it is simple, kids will eat things they grow themselves.
At home, my boys might organize a protest against tomatoes, but in the garden, they’ll pop them into their mouths fresh off the vine until I have to stop them for fear they’ll become tomatoes.
For flavor combinations, that’s precisely when I strike. I’ll wrap up a cherry tomato in a basil leaf and watch them devour them together.
If you don’t have a spot for a garden, nor access to a school or community garden, consider starting a mini-garden in your kitchen window or balcony at home. Here is just one example how.
2. Start with something they really like, then add something small.
The next technique I’ve found works well is combining something they really like with a small bit of something I want them to try. Grilled cheese sandwiches with a little kiwi on the side, or pancakes with berries, for instance. The idea is to combine a lot of what they like, with a little bit of what they don’t.
Also, my boys will usually give most anything a go if I let them put hot sauce, ketchup, or ranch dressing on it. You may see this as cheating, since they may not actually be able to taste the new thing. But for me, I see it as getting them over the fear of the unknown. I’ve seen this work with many of the vegetables they regularly eat now without a second thought… and without extra sauce.
3. Play a game.
One last idea is to try a game. I’ll admit this might not be for everyone. My kids are highly competitive, though, and they like to win. So I’ve developed my own game which simply divides the things they like (larger) from the things they don’t (smaller). A role of the dice or a spinner determines which side they have to eat from. You’ve got to eat to win. No sauces allowed! It’s just another way to slay a dragon.
Starting today, ideas for flavorful fun can be found at a new Flavor Exploration website from Juicy Juice® featuring Jeff Mauro from Food Network’s hit show, The Kitchen. Meant as an online resource, the site is dedicated to helping families discover a new world of flavor.
The hope is to inspire kids to expand their taste palates. In addition to recipes, there are fun facts to learn about fruits from around the globe, plus they have flavor-filled, fun activities and games to do with the kids.
There’s also a virtual flavor wheel you can spin for the chance to win prizes daily, including gift cards, from now through April 30th, 2018.
Join the Conversation
Why not stop by the Flavor Discovery website and check out all the fun.
I’m happy to say all Juicy Juice® products are made from real juice, with sweetness that comes only from the fruit and no added sugar, so these are better-for-you beverages that kids love and parents can feel good about. Some of the 16 flavor varieties of the Juicy Juice® 100% juice include Apple, Passion Dragonfruit, and Orange Tangerine.