This might sound familiar from you child:
“I don’t want to try that!”
“It looks disgusting!”
“No way am I touching that!”
Here are 5 tips to help your child overcome the fear of trying new food.
1) Use Familiarity To Your Advantage
Start with finding a vegetable your child will eat and then use that as a spring board to try new vegetables.
If your child likes zucchini, and then you serve roasted beets, the jump from one vegetable to another is too unfamiliar.
Zucchini is green and has a mild sweet flavor while beets have a dark red color and very different texture.
Instead, go from serving sauteed zucchini to sauteed yellow squash or green bell peppers. These foods are in the same family or color scheme.
2) Don’t Overcook It
The No. 1 complaint from kids who are scared of trying foods is when the food looks soggy and unappetizing because it was over cooked.
Most people overcook broccoli, zucchini and spinach.
You need to make sure you slightly undercook your veggies when you steam, roast or saute them because there is residual cooking that happens when you put the vegetable from the hot pan and onto a serving plate.
“Soggy” is a huge issue with kids, so when you’re cooking, taste along the way, and take them off when they have that “al dente” feel.
3) Disguise The Food!
With a $10 Oxo Handspiralizer (link) you can turn zucchini into “pasta noodles”
You can cut eggplant into circles, bread each piece and cook in olive oil in a way that makes them look like a slice of crispy potato…. but it’s eggplant!
Get creative with how you disguise vegetables so it looks like a familiar food.
You can sneak asparagus into fettuccine alfredo.
You can sneak cauliflower into mac and cheese.
We do this all the time in our cooking class (link to virtual after-school cooking class), and most kids will, at the very least, try a bite.
4) Make it Visually Appealing
Kids are supervisual, so when you serve cooked asparagus (see this Asparagus and Steak video from my youtube) put it on a nice plate, and top with a bit of garnish like chopped Italian parsley or alongside the lemon wedges.
If it looks nice, and isn’t some lump of green, kids are more likely to try one bite
5) Grocery Shop WITH your kid
Even during this pandemic, bring kids to the grocery store with you (and have them be safe with gloves and masks).
Empower them by saying that their mission is to choose the BEST bell pepper or romaine lettuce or bunch of kale for cooking at home.
When kids feel “ in charge” of choosing a vegetable it dramatically increases their likelihood to eat it.
Remember, kids are often “scared of foods,” but studies have shown that most picky eaters just go through phases. However, you must act! Try out these tips and see what happens. I know these tips will help your kids try new foods.