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by Leslie Bonci

How do we help kids cultivate and appreciate an interest in what they eat? Food is so much more than nutrients. We eat with our eyes. We smell, taste, touch and chew our foods. Taste, texture, and temperature can help in developing a broader and adventuresome palate.

  1. Taste. Offer a wide range of flavors. Sure, sweet is great, but so is salty, sour, bitter, spicy and umami. Not all kids love veggies and that may be because vegetables can taste bitter. Try roasting vegetables to bring out their sweetness or sprinkling a little Parmesan on broccoli to add a savory flavor. A mix of sweet and sour, such as orange juice on chicken, or pineapple added to a stir fry provides the palate with pizazz.  We don’t know what our kids will and will not like until we give them a chance to experiment. Looking for some great resources, check out cooksmarts.com
  1. Texture. We all have texture preferences. Some may love raw carrots but cannot eat them cooked. Others may prefer crunchy peanut butter over creamy. Offer various textures to your kids and grandkids which can include both raw and cooked forms of fruits and vegetables. Maybe creamy yogurt with some crunchy granola added. A stir fry of veggies with nuts. Roasted chickpeas or freeze-dried fruit add a crunch to salads and can also be mixed with cereal and nuts for a trail mix. Popcorn is great crunchy snack, and adding some dried cherries or cranberries brings the chewiness as well. Texture brings the excite and delight to each bite. 
  1. Temperature. Who would have thought that temperature would play an important role in the foods we enjoy eating? Many people prefer milk cold, but hot milk can also be very soothing. Soups are typically served hot, but a cold fruit soup is very cooling on a hot day. Chicken is delicious as a hot entrée but also works beautifully in a cold salad or sandwich. What about the combo of hot pizza with sauce and cheese topped with raw baby spinach? And let’s also consider the “heat” in what we eat. Spicy foods are great. You may think your kids won’t eat it, but consider spicing up popcorn, or mixing yogurt, salsa and taco seasoning for a spicy savory dip. Or tossing mini potatoes with olive oil and spices and roasting them as a side or a snack. Bringing the thrill of the chill or the heat to what we eat helps to make our meals complete. 

Spice things up with taste, texture and temperature in the glass, bowl or plate for winning meals that everyone will appreciate. 

Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN, is the Dietary & Nutrition Strategic Advisor at Dari® and MOO’V™ milk. With over two decades of experience, she is an expert in nutrition with many of Leslie’s blog posts center around active eating and fueling for sport. She is the Head Nutritionist for the Kansas City Chiefs and has been a consulting sports dietitian in the NFL, MLB, and NHL, and worked with Olympic athletes. Bonci has co-authored three books with an active eating focus, is a blogger for US News Eat + Run, and is a sought-after expert for television, radio, print and online media, Bonci speaks regularly on topics including “sciensationalism,” “fuels of engagement” and “communication with conviction” to help influencers and consumers debunk the junk and separate fact from fallacy.