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Power to the (Little) People by Jennifer Davis

by bkhoury on October 05, 2011

When I was a kid, my younger brother went through a phase of only eating broccoli if it was doused in A-1 steak sauce.  While the thought of that brown, soggy broccoli still turns my stomach today, I realized that there’s a lesson to be learned here: giving kids a little bit of freedom with their food can make a huge difference at meal time.

When my kids get to the dinner table, take one look at their plates and declare “yuck” or even worse, “hideo” (short for hideous, I’ve been informed) I fight the urge to declare “eat it or wear it,” take a big breath, an even bigger swig of wine and ask, “ok, what can you do to make it better?”  They are always up for the challenge.

We call it thinking like a chef.  They must taste the food first and then can adjust it any way they want.  Does it need more salt?  A sauce?  A spicy kick?  A little grated cheese?  I’ve found that once the kids put their culinary fingerprints on their dinner, they are more than happy to eat their creations.

Most of the time, my daughter reaches for the balsamic or red wine vinegar – as long as it’s tart, she’s happy.  My son likes things salty so he’s usually adding something like a soy or Teriyaki sauce.  There are days when a side of ranch dressing is all it takes to make grilled chicken disappear faster than I can say, “how about eating that with a fork instead?”

Yes, there are times when I cringe to see my carefully prepared dinners assaulted with hot sauce, but for the most part, this has turned out to be a great system for our family.  Sometimes, I’m even pleasantly surprised and dig in to the kids’ creations – just for the record, Dijon mustard on roasted chicken is definitely not hideo.

  • This is a really good idea.  Going to try it next time kids say ewww without even trying a meal which seems like almost every meal!

    By Tami on October 5, 2011 at 11:50 PM
  • How do you get your kids to like vinegar? Just shows you what they are capable of taking a liking to with an open mind!

    By mummy on October 5, 2011 at 11:52 PM
  • Isn’t that crazy? 

    We were surprised when she started putting vinegar on everything.  I think it started with balsamic vinegar (which is kind of sweet) on broccoli and it grew from there.

    By Jennifer Davis on October 6, 2011 at 11:41 PM
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