How To Get Kids To Enjoy Eating Greens
Approximately 25% of people are born with an over-developed receptor for anything bitter. Vegetable haters, however, will be delighted to know that the sensitivity to bitterness is all in the genes.
Rosemary Stanton, a nutritionist, says "While that is great for those who want to be discerning with wine, cheese or coffee, it also allows them to taste the bitterness in cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens and eggplant."
"Coincidentally, those are the ones packed with health-protective antioxidants, vitamins and minerals," says Rosemary. "The bitter taste has slowly bred out of veggies, which in fact is not a good thing, so you ought to eat more vegetable to get the same quantity of goodness."
In Pemberton in the southwest of Western Australia Sophie Zalokar has just opened Foragers Field Kitchen and Cooking School. She says green veggies are particularly high in oxalic acid which is why children - who have a much more sensitive palate than adults - often, find them distasteful.
"Everybody starts off liking sweet things and the taste for bitterness develops with maturity. So children need to taste things like spinach to become desensitized to it," Rosemary says.
The easiest way to get kids to eat their greens is to involve them from growing to cooking the veggies, particularly when you add a sense of adventure to the taste, with some of these ideas:
1.To stop the bitterness, salt veggies such as zucchini and eggplant for 15 minutes, then rinse and steam. Don't cook for too long
2.Stir broccoli florets into pasta dishes and macaroni cheese
3.Balance out the bitter taste with a strong sauce or seasoning, like oyster sauce with leafy greens or brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower
4.Try adding some cheese to broccoli, or cauliflower
5.Toss some goat's cheese, ricotta or manchego through greens with garlic, add some toasted slivered almonds
6.Think back to the 1970s with crunchy crudites and a dip - French onion, yoghurt laced with light sour cream or garlic
7.Serve leafy greens with a drizzle of olive-oil-flavoured with lemon, chilli pepper or garlic, which down-plays the bitterness
8.Stuff anything and everything - eggplant, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, celery sticks.
9.Layer zucchini slices, chopped spinach or cooked carrots into lasagna
10.Glaze everything - mix up a squirt of honey, minced garlic, ginger and a shot of balsamic
11.Butter, butter, butter. Add lashings of it and chopped parsley and salt and pepper and your carrots will love you
Even if you only try one or two of the ideas above, you will be agreeably surprised at the results, even among the adults in your family.