I was once at a friend’s housewarming party where Indian fare was being served. I happen to love Indian food, especially when it’s very spicy, but there were these samosas that were spicier than what I usually eat. I had a couple and while my mouth was on fire, I noticed a little girl, she was maybe three years old, popping those samosas like they were marshmallows. I could not believe my eyes…
Now that I have young children I realize: it’s all about how you train the palate. Anyone, at any age, could acquire any type of palate. You just have to start as early as possible and be persistent. If feeding your kids vegetables, especially raw, is important for you, here are some tips (and a recipe):
- Use a great dressing on your salads. Mix walnut or olive oil, mustard and honey or agave syrup. Try using hummus as a dressing, or even just lots of grated cheese, whichever your child likes the most.
- When eating vegetables, speak to your children about the health benefits of what you’re currently eating. Some examples: “My eyesight is excellent because of these carrots”; “My hair is so shiny because of the avocado”; “This broccoli has calcium which makes my bones really strong and I can kick a ball really hard!”
- Try reading a book to your kids while they’re eating. It will make their meal more enjoyable and educational. When my daughter was a baby she was a very picky eater, so I would sit with her on the couch and read to her while feeding her lunch. She is now an amazing eater and at four years old can pack two hot dogs (with buns), half a cup of quinoa with veggies and half a cup of fruit salad!
- You already know this – kids will imitate anything, consciously or subconsciously. If they see you eating lots of salads, eventually their brains will “get it”.
- Sometimes I just cut up some veggies (like tomatoes and cucumbers) and put them on a plate in the middle of the dinner table. Each one of us picks some for his or her plate. This works really well because not only do the kids see us taking veggies, they also start getting competitive and see who can take the most…
- Try omitting lettuce and other leafy greens. One reason kids don’t like salads is because of the consistency of lettuce; it’s not crunchy, it gets soggy and you need more than just your front teeth to chew it. When I was a kid, my father used to make a salad that had no lettuce, but everything else, chopped up into really tiny pieces, so that it looked like confetti. He called it, rightfully so, “delicious salad”. Here is the recipe: (thanks, Dad!)
Confetti Salad (AKA “Delicious Salad”)
The secret to this salad is to take your time and cut everything into the smallest possible pieces. You can certainly use a food chopper or a mandoline that cuts into cubes. There is no need for dressing because the eggs are moist (especially if you soft-boil them) so they bind everything together. If you still feel a need for a dressing you can use fresh squeezed lemon juice mixed with walnut oil or olive oil. You can make this salad the night before school and pack it for your kid’s lunch, along with some crackers and string cheese, or serve it as an afternoon snack inside a whole-wheat pita.
½ English cucumber (keep peel on)
1 yellow pepper
3 plum tomatoes
3 eggs, hard or soft-boiled
2 carrots (long and thin, peeled)
Cut the first four ingredients into tiny cubes. Slice the carrots into thin rounds. Cut the big rounds in half. Mix well.