How to make healthy food taste good to kids! It can take time to develop a healthy palette. Here are some easy ways to encourage food acceptance using easy flavor enhancers.
You may have heard the saying – “It’s not nutrition unless it’s eaten.”
We can load our kids’ plates with all the nutritious foods we know to be beneficial and yet, if they don’t eat them, they’re not going to receive that nourishment.
Now, we don’t want to discount the importance of serving nutrient-dense foods simply for the purpose of exposure (even if they don’t get eaten) – that’s incredibly important. We want to highlight the fact that sometimes we make exceptions to our food guidelines in order to achieve a larger purpose.
In this case, we’re talking about adding additions that aren’t exactly nutrient-dense with the goal of getting our kids to try and eventually enjoy the foods we do want them to eat.
Are these additions the most nutrient-dense? Not necessarily. Do they help to get kids to actually try and enjoy vegetables and other “learning to like” foods? You bet!
It’s all about the end game. The more we can encourage our kids to try new foods, especially early on, the more likely they are to develop preferences for these healthy items as they grow up. If that means using a little extra flavor, that’s okay.
6 Easy Flavor Enhancers for Kids
If you’re serving your babe the same old steamed, tasteless veggies and they continue to reject them, try adding some of the flavor enhancers below.
Salt can help to mellow the bitterness of veggies, which humans are biologically programmed to dislike. We’re not saying to go dumping salt on baby’s plate, but a little sprinkle, especially for 2+ can help get you from A (avoiding) to B (enjoying). Plus, if you choose iodized salt, it’s a simple way to get some iodine.
How often do adults eat these things without salt or butter? Rarely! A little savory fat can go a long way to improve the flavor profile of food. Dairy or non-dairy, there are plenty of butter options.
Who doesn’t love ketchup? Whitney’s husband has a shirt that says “I put ketchup on my ketchup!” Sure, it’s mostly sugar, but if a dab of ketchup gets your kid to try food he’s been shunning, we’re all for it. A simple tomato salsa can also work wonders!
Again, a little bit goes a long way here. Most kids feel pretty strongly about mustard one way or another, but if they’re a fan it can work well on its own or mixed with ketchup! Or if your family eats honey, a honey-mustard mixture is often a hit with kids.
5. Veggie Cheeze
Sometimes all a plate of steamed broccoli needs is a little sprinkle of vegan parmesan, cheese shreds, or herbed cashew cheese for our little dippers. Or, try some of our other plant-based dips and sauces!
6. Olive Oil + Vinegar
We like using a little bit of extra virgin olive oil to add fat and calories to our babes’ plates, and plain veggies are a perfect way to do so. There are also flavored olive oils your family could experiment with together (family taste test!), like garlic, basil, or lemon. While many kids find vinegar too tart, vinegar (plain balsamic or flavors like orange and blueberry) can work nicely with leafy greens as a dip when you’re working on exposures.
Find other helpful ways to encourage food acceptance here, like food play! Sometimes all it takes is adding or adjusting one factor at meals to help your babe feel comfortable and interested in trying something new.
Obviously, the strategy of adding flavors like these should be evaluated and employed based on your child’s age. We don’t recommend regularly including added salt and sugar in your infant’s meals, but for an older child, these additions can make a big difference in how to make healthy food taste good to kids.
Chime In: Does your kiddo have a favorite seasoning or dip that helps them try new foods like veggies? Share below!
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