Monday, July 25, 2011

Broadening Snacking Palates: Yours and Your Kids'

It is a common puzzle for parents: how to break their kids of the iron grip that refined carbs has on their palates. Since refined carbohydrates like white sugar and wheat flour (even whole wheat flour) have documented properties of addiction in terms of how they affect the brain, it's no small wonder that food manufacturers try to hit the sweet spot with added refined carbs at every turn.

The long term solution to this is to get these kinds of carbs out of regular rotation - and one way to do this is by broadening your kids' palates. By offering and introducing tasty alternatives, your kids can come to view whole foods as treats in their own right.

Here are some ideas for kid-friendly tastes that can satisfy without promoting the manufactured taste or effects of refined carbohydrates. Be sure to indulge yourself - not only because they taste good, but because when your kids see you snacking on real food instead of processed junk, they'll follow suit.

If your family tolerates dairy well, go for the good stuff: full-fat, and organic, pastured, and/or raw where you can afford it. If your kids don't go for one type of cheese, don't be afraid other types; you might have one kid who's a Roquefort hound, and another who's all about Gouda. Hard and soft; stinky or mild; cow's, sheep's, or goat's. Mix it up and discover what cheese tastes your kids enjoy.

This savory dip of mashed avocados is a classic favorite for adults and kids alike - and the smooth, fatty texture is irresistable. Serve it up with fresh cut veggies like carrot and celery sticks.

Fresh Fruit and Veggies
This goes beyond apples and bananas, carrots and celery. Introduce your kids to as wide a variety of produce as you can manage - including palate-awakening items like tart grapefruits, starchy plantains, earthy beets, and crisp, peppery radishes. Asian grocery stores and farmers' markets are great places to seek variety - invite your kids to pick out whatever new fruits and vegetables they'd like to try, and bring them home. You might even Wikipedia the new picks together on your smartphone or PC to see where they originate and some of the best ways to prepare them - which is a fun learning experience by itself. And if your kids don't go for something new? That's fine! In your next shopping trip, move on to the next intriguing item at the produce stand, and you are sure to eventually find something that you all enjoy.

I don't mean a bowl of dusty cottonseed oil and corn starch dusted peanuts (yuck!). Try simply salted nuts - or even combine them in trail mixes with raisins and other dried fruits as a summer outing snack. Remember to read the ingredient labels of all of the nuts that you buy to ensure that there is nothing added - just nuts, perhaps with added salt. Nut butters (again, be sure to select them without added sugars or industrial oils like canola or soybean oil) can be delicious spread on apple slices.

Plain Whole Fat Yoghurt
Traderspoint Creamery Grass Fed
Whole Creamline Yogurt is one
we've tried recently and really enjoyed!
Did you know that GoGurt has 5.78 grams of sugar per ounce of product? Coca-Cola has 3.2 grams of sugar per ounce of soda. Yup, sweetened yoghurts frequently have more sugar per ounce than soda, and both are laden with high-fructose corn syrup and other coloring agents and additives that you and your kids don't need. It's time to ditch sweetened yoghurts and get acquainted with the creamy, deliciously tart taste of plain whole fat yoghurt. If you're feeling adventuresome you could try to make your own, or simply buy the highest quality (organic, grass-fed, etc.) that you can afford. Since it's a big shift from the industrially-sweetened taste, you could sweeten with something natural, like a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup - or by adding fresh fruit, but also don't be afraid to try the plain yogurt by itself to wean a sweet tooth off of depending on yoghurt as a sweet snack.

Chicken Salad or Egg Salad
Make yourself some delicious homemade mayo (it's very simple, promise!), and then toss it with leftover chunks of chicken, or with diced boiled eggs. You can eat this right out of a bowl with a fork, or wrapped in lettuce leaves. It's a great hearty snack that is bound to keep you and your kids satisfied because of the high protein and fat content.

Getting your kids to try new tastes while you transition to a real food lifestyle can be challenging at times for sure. The important mindsets for you to exhibit during the experience of broadening your palates are patience, persistence, and openmindedness.

What new-to-your-tastebuds real food snacks have you and your family been trying out lately?


  1. My older kids would eat just about anything you sat in front of them. They got their share of refined crap, but were just as happy to have broccoli and squash. My youngest, though, has ALWAYS been a picky eater; it took an act of congress to get him to eat anything other than chicken nuggets and mac 'n' cheese when he was small. I discovered as he got older, though, that if I give him some kind of say in what I purchase and cook, he is much more open to trying something new - as a result, at 16 the kid is digging on some sauteed beef liver with bacon and grilled asparagus.

  2. These are great ideas! I've weaned myself off the grains, but I'm having a hard time with the hubby and my toddler. I never seem to remember that cheese is a great snack option for them; and I'm a cheese lover! The one that we do regularly is plain yogurt w/ a touch of vanilla, honey, and cinnamon. Heaven!

  3. My kids have been LOVING fried cheese lately. Instead of just giving it to them plain, I cook a handful of shredded cheese in a skillet until it's browned - I flip it like a pancake. You do lose some of the fat when you cook it but it makes it all toasty on the outside and gooey on the inside if you cook it right... they go nuts over the stuff.

    And speaking as a consumer, I always thought plain yogurt was sour tasting and needed sweetening to be palatable but then I discovered that it is only sour like that when the FAT is removed. When I finally found full-fat greek yogurt I found that I loved it and my kids do too, oddly enough.


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