Want to raise a more adventurous little eater? Try these tips from some of America’s top chefs.
Kids are more likely to widen their palate if you add a new ingredient without telling them. “I know my son, and most kids, love simple pasta dishes such as mac n’ cheese, so I will add a new protein or vegetable like duck or zucchini that I know he may not want to try otherwise,” says Aarón Sánchez, celebrity chef and guest judge on MasterChef Junior. “After he eats it, I ask if he tasted that difference.” When mixed in with one of their favorite meals, a child is more likely to give it a try and actually find that he likes it, says Sánchez. Get inspired by these homemade mac and cheese recipes.
Let them play with their food to create colorful art
For the same reason that kids will try to eat Play-Doh and crayons, they’ll also be compelled to try a new “scary” food if it appeals to their eyes, so, keep the dishes colorful and fun. “Practically, this translates into adding colorful additions to simple, healthy dishes, even if they’re seemingly a bit superfluous,” says chef Braulio Bunay of Industry Kitchen. “The more color you can incorporate, the more you’ll be able to distract them from the fact that they’re eating something new.” For example, if you’re trying to get them to eat a whole-wheat waffle, top it with strawberries, blueberries, and kiwi to make it vibrant, bright and inviting. Or, if you’re aiming to amplify a bowl of Greek yogurt, try sprinkling it with some colorful chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, suggests Bunay. When serving dips, like hummus or tahini, try placing a diverse array of brightly colored vegetables in an alluring pattern around the dips, which makes eating it more like a playful game than a task.