Herbs add lots of taste to food without adding lots of calories. But most of my patients tell me that their children refuse to eat anything with ‘clumps’ of green in it. They are missing out on a very low-calorie way to make their food taste better. Read on to see how I handled introducing my children to herbs in their food.
The other night, I was eating a dinner of chicken and barley. The chef had used a bunch of different herbs in the seasoning. I didn’t know which herbs they were- but they smelled and tasted great. My kids were examining my plate, as usual. “Mommy, I want some rice,” my daughter told me. I let her try the barley and she liked it. “This type of rice is called barley,” I explained. “What’s this?” my son asked, pointing to a dark green leaf on my plate. “That’s a seasoning, a type of herb,” I informed him. He wrinkled up his nose. I told him, “It smells and tastes great. And it’s healthy!” He looked at me skeptically. “I want to smell it,” he said. So I held the leaf up to his nose and he inhaled the aroma. “It smells good,” he said.
Now- you have to realize that my mother has an herb garden and has always let him smell and taste the different herbs. We had conditioned him to the idea of herbs.
“It tastes great, too,” I said. He agreed to try it. “Wow, it does taste pretty good.” I replied, “It makes my chicken taste extra fresh and extra delicious.” “Cool,” was his reply.
Let’s analyze this a little more closely.
The first step is to introduce your kids to herbs from a young age. Plant a small pot of parsley and mint. Let your child watch it grow. Water it together. Pick leaves, smell them, and taste them. Teach your children that these herbs make food taste better and are very healthy. Then, when they encounter them in restaurants (or even at home), they are used to the idea of ‘leaves’ in food.
Secondly, let them see you enjoying foods with herbs. Zachary was skeptical until I told him that it makes food taste great. It was a stress-free environment. I don’t think it would have been as successful if I have put a plate of chicken with herbs on his plate. But since it was on my plate, he knew that he didn’t have to eat it if he didn’t want to. Plus, everything tastes better from mommy’s plate!
I also think it helps to let them smell the herbs. Our smell sense is closely related to our taste sense. He smelled it and recognized that it smelled just like the herbs he grows with Grandma.
Finally, ask them to taste it. Just be sure to act very positively about it. Don’t say, “Taste it. You don’t have to eat more if you hate it.” That implies that you think there is a good chance he is going to hate it. Instead, say “Taste it. I just know you are going to love it as much as mommy does!” It puts a more positive spin on the food.
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