Monday, September 14, 2015

Picking Veggies for Picky Eaters

A child with crossed arms at the dinner table - refusing to eat their veggies - is an iconic image. Why is so common for kids to dislike broccoli and brussel sprouts as kids and grow to enjoy them as teens or adults? Many factors contribute (such as childhood bitter receptors which may act as a protection against many common toxins) and many factors contribute to changing tastes (such as repeat exposure to the food, intrauterine exposure to foods, and seeing role models eating those foods in the home). 

How can you improve the nutritional content of a child's food until they are ready to eat the broccoli of their own free will? Hide some un-bitter veggies in foods they already like! Blend steamed carrots and add them to marinara sauce. Add baby kale or baby spinach to fruit smoothies (the younger versions of these plants have few bitter chemicals and go unnoticed). Push steamed cauliflower through a ricer for faux mashed potatoes. Finely shred zucchini and add it to casseroles. Blend baked sweet potato with applesauce. Add unsweetened canned pumpkin puree to pizza or pasta sauces. By adding veggies to a child's regular intake you are improving their nutritional intake and gently broadening their palate so they may be more likely to eat these foods on their own. 

(PMID 26000268)

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