You can’t start early enough to develop healthy eating habits. But how do you manage that in an environment where children are constantly stimulated by all kinds of indulging products in attractive packaging? Nutrition should not be a struggle, and there is nothing wrong with occasional treats. The trick is to teach children to acquire a varied taste palette, that they will benefit from for a lifetime. Everyone has a natural preference for sweet, and there is enough salt in our daily food. Through the tasting of multiple flavors one learns to expand the palette with acid, bitter and umami.
When you appeal to children’s natural curiosity you can let them discover new flavors in a playful way. Four tips for young gourmets:
- Learn where your food comes from. Take children to the orchard to pick apples and pears – and do taste that green apple, while you are there.
- Try out different recipes with rhubarb together in the kitchen. Did you know that rhubarb is not only healthy but also very versatile? You can eat it raw with salt, in a tartlet with lemon curd or in a dessert with sweet strawberries.
- Taste umami in dishes with tomato, onion, mushroom, spinach, ginger or fresh fish, and try to describe this flavor. Do you understand why the Japanese have called this taste ‘deliciousness’?
- Experiment with bitter flavors, such as chicory and grapefruit. Bitter flavors activate the digestion and strengthen the immune system. The real bitter is in the heart of the chicory and the skins of the grapefruit. Nice to taste, but smart to remove to get used to the taste.