Would your kid eat sushi?
Mac and cheese, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, PBJ, and spaghetti and meatballs are classic kid's meals. Yes, these foods are tasty and that is one reason kids love them. However, they also become favorites simply because the are often offered repeatedly. Some kids are picky eaters. These kids get into food ruts and declare they will eat no other foods. Eating the same few foods over and over may be okay for the inexperienced eater, but most adults crave a little variety and variation of different cultural cuisines.
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As a foodie and dietitian, it pains me to see kids limiting their foods for whatever reason. I know that when given the opportunity many children will expand their palates. It may take some creativity and determination on the parent front, but it can be done! Kids have the ability to enjoy spicy foods, sour fruits, sushi, stinky cheeses, and many ethnic foods.
I have often caught myself skimping on the spices while cooking, thinking my daughter would not like the meal too "hot". But, to my surprise she enjoys a little kick to her food. I had a very similar reaction the first time she reached into my water glass, pulled out my lemon, and sucked away without a wince.How to Expand Kid's Palates
There are several ways to encourage kids to eat different or new foods. First, start them off young. Even babies in utero can develop a taste for ethnic foods. Start slowly and offer one new food at a time. Serve spicy peppers with your burritos, or a side of calamari with your mac and cheese. Eat together as a family. Do not become a short order cook - if they don't eat what's for dinner, then that's their choice. When kids see parents trying new foods, they will follow suit.
Make new foods interesting and fun. Try gardening or involving your kids in the kitchen. Use a tasting card. Discuss different countries while you sample their cuisine. Children love to dip their food, so use sweet, savory, or spicy sauces as dips for meats or veggies. Let them play with their food. These simple ideas will help ease your kids into trying new and unfamiliar foods.
Cooking with unfamiliar foods and spices will open your child's sense of taste and smell and will prepare them for unfamiliar life experiences in the future. And it will keep family dinners interesting. We all thrive on variety - let's do our kids the respect of providing that variety too.
This post was written by Jenni Grover.
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