My picky eaters are in love with GREEN FOOD: here's how I did it

March 29 | Guest post by Krissy Sherman Bonning
All photos by Krissy.

I've blogged before about how my kids are the pickiest eaters on the planet. I've tried sticker charts, bribes, threats, beatings (just kidding!), but so far the best tactic has been giving my kids the job of the "Taste Tester." Initially I was skeptical my kids would participate, but they totally LOVED it.

I put nine different green foods (grapes, broccoli, apples, celery, and so on) in a muffin tin and asked my kids to sample each. I was stoked when they started trying (and loving) veggies that had never before touched their lips.

Then I made a chart with smiley and frowny faces for my kidlets to circle based on their findings. I was surprised to see that my daughter Priscilla had more smiley faces circled than not — and she's even been begging to taste test red foods next.

Do you have picky eaters? What's worked for you?

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  1. I love this idea! My kids are insanely picky and I feel like I've tried everything to get them to try new foods. I will definitely be giving this one a try.

    2 agree
  2. I love this! The last picture is so great, he's so serious – "Yes, the green apples are a smiley face, which is delightfully surprising."

    13 agree
  3. Little guy in glasses: SO CUTE! He's like a little scientist, testing and recording his findings.

    2 agree
  4. How old are the kids?? I wish this could work for my 2 year old son but I'm not sure. He's not picky per se… he just HATES VEGETABLES. So disappointing. It's not just that he won't try them, it's that if he does, he gags like he's eating poison.

    Yesterday he willingly tried a cherry tomato, probably thinking it was a sweet fruit. I seriously thought he was going to vomit. He did chew and swallow it, but with lots of very dramatic gagging. 🙁

    1 agrees
    • Awww, poor little guy and poor mama! My kids are 3 and 5 and usually it's just a case of them not even wanting to try things. I don't know what to tell ya in your situation. Maybe it's a texture things for him?

    • I felt that way about veggies when I was younger. They made me gag. I wasn't acting, or (intentionally) being melodramatic. The best answer I have for you? I outgrew it.

      Also, Southern politeness. I learned how to eat veggies when at other people's homes where I couldn't complain about what I was offered by cutting them into small portions and throwing them to the back of my mouth so that I could swallow with out chewing. The more often I made myself eat something, the less awful it became. Over the past six years or so I have gone from gagging on tomatoes to loving to eat them with just a sprinkling of salt!

      In short, stress how important it is to eat your veggies, but don't worry about it too much if they don't. There will come a time when they will probably figure it out on their own.

      1 agrees
      • Boy, can I relate to this. To this day there are a few foods that hit my gag reflex, but I just avoid them without saying anything. It's really embarrassing. I've worked very hard to control it and it hasn't happened from food in a good 7 years. When it did happen, I eventually learned to hide it by pretending that I drank something that went down the wrong tube, or quickly gulping down a drink, coughing etc., anything to cover up the fact that it's food that someone else lovingly prepared causing it. It's not me being dramatic; I just have a very sensitive gag reflex and certain flavours set it off. I have grown out of most of it, but things like vomit and poop still make me throw up.

        When I was studying botany in university, I learned that for me, it's mustard oil glucosinolates. A lot of our modern food plants are members of the mustard family (Cruciferae), including brussel sprouts, asparagus, lettuce, kale etc. Not to be confused, yellow mustard itself doesn't taste really strongly of mustard oils and is one of my favourite flavours, but it's derived from a plant that is a member of the same family and has similar compounds. I'm ok with lettuce and spinach and am working on kale, but I can't eat brussel sprouts or asparagus to this day.

        1 agrees
        • I've always loved asparagus and lettuce, but brussel sprouts are my kryptonite! That and mushrooms. They really just make me feel miserable and I have the hardest time swallowing them. With mushrooms it's so difficult in social situations because people put them in EVERYTHING and they're usually mixed up in some kind of casserole with gravy so you don't know they're there until you've taken a bite. O_O Oh, the horror.

          1 agrees
          • Ditto with mushrooms. I still don't see how they qualify as food; where do they fall in the food pyramid, eh? Eh?? (This question actually caused a massive debate at work one day that included me shouting, "Saying that mushrooms are a vegetable is like saying celery is a reptile!!")

            1 agrees
    • Might not be a bad idea! I like this method because it gives the taster agency, and with the small portions not a lot is going to waste if they don't like it. You could also try various preparations of one or two foods — steamed, roasted w/ olive oil, raw, with dip, etc.

      1 agrees
  5. This is such a cute idea!! I'll definitely keep it in my arsenal for when my 2yo gets a little older. Right now she gets most of her greens from spinach blended into smoothies and homemade kale chips. She'll also eat peas (legumes, but green), stems of asparagus, and stems of broccoli. And she suddenly loves avocado after hating it forever. I've realized it's true what they say, that you just have to keep offering, and they may change their minds.

    1 agrees
  6. Oh my Gosh, I LOVE this idea! The charts make it perfect! Now I know how to try & get my boyfriend's son off his pure Mac N Cheese + hot dog diet…. <3

    1 agrees
  7. Is that little boy with the glasses not the cutest thing ever?! I'll keep this idea in mind for when my kids get older.

    1 agrees
  8. I'm so curious– does this lead to them actually eating more veggies at meal times? Or has it been limited to the taste-testing time only?

    This is awesome! Partially because of the taste testing/expanding palate/etc… and partially because all of the green things are in muffin tins. I love dividing things up in muffin tins.

    4 agree
  9. This is a great idea! I am going to try it with my girls. So far they are pretty good about the green things. They love avocado and cucumber. We also make a fresh juice every day with carrot, apple, lemon, and either parsley, kale, or spinach. They are uaually good about drikning this. I look forward to reading more blogs!

    1 agrees
  10. We have question time before bedtime every night and last night we would name fruits and veggies from the each color of the rainbow. This is the perfect way to continue that lesson and get them to try new things! Thanks!!

    1 agrees
  11. Don't forget that it sometimes takes a while for kids to develop the enzymes required to properly digest some foods (depends on the kid, not really a developmental stage).

    I say this as someone who was insanely picky as a child! So even if it doesn't work with a certain food…give it a while then try again! (I was crazy and didn't like broccoli or pizza, now two of my favorite things)

    1 agrees
  12. Oh that is a great idea! That is a great way of interesting kids to try different veggies and fruits. Thanks for sharing. Our 5 year old son is also a picky eater when it comes to salads. One day my husband eventually blindfolded him and let him do a tasting contest indentifying the different parts of the salad. He ate all raw tomatoes, lettuce and onions without a single complaint. He loved it when he recognized and guessed all the ingredients right!

    1 agrees
  13. This is a FABULOUS idea. Sometimes it's completely the way you present food to kids that makes or breaks their eating habits, and this seems like a lot of fun for them!

    My son has a hugely varied diet (He is now 11) and tries everything and I'm really happy about how I was able to present food to him. When I was a child my parents would plop a plate of supper down in front of us and make us sit and eat until it was gone, if we didn't finish we couldn't have anything else until that food was gone (I actually blame this for some of my weight problems and portion control problems today.)

    My son was hugely overactive as a small boy, it was nearly impossible to get him to sit for an entire meal, so instead I kept a tray full of cut up raw veggies and fruits and dips, crackers and yougurts in the fridge for when he did want to eat. It was common to see him sitting down on the floor chowing down on red pepper strips and broccoli!

    1 agrees
  14. This is a great idea. We recently tried the "smell, lick, bite appoach". He has to at least smell it, after that we give rewards for licks and bites. Most of the time a reward is a dance with one of us, but on really hard foods we do a gummi vitamin which he thinks are better than candy.

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