During the early years of our children’s lives, it’s important that we try to ‘design’ their taste buds towards healthy, flavoursome food. That’s a challenging task when fussiness, sometimes mixed with total refusal to eat, drives us toward adding sugar, salt and butter in an attempt to jazz up a meal.
A better quick fix, that will have long term benefits, is to add herbs and spices to season meals instead. Herbs and spices are not only healthy, they’re also a great tool for introducing new foods. If you are introducing a new food for the first time, just by sprinkling on a familiar herb it will make it more palatable (just like tomato sauce seems to do for EVERYTHING).
When feeding our kids our goal is NOT to keep trying to serve up bland food, but to add in flavours to challenge our kids taste buds that will hopefully encourage eating a variety of meals.
Your child is first exposed to different tastes before he/she is even born, through foods that pass through the placenta. This then continues on to breast milk with many food preferences said to start at this point. You can start to add in mild seasonings to your baby’s meals as young as eight months of age, but it is a case of being extra cautious to avoid possible digestive upsets. Go gently.
Here are some ideas that you might like to try in your children’s meals
Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to apple slices, bananas, custard, puddings, sweet potato, pumpkin and yoghurt. Nutmeg can be used in the same way.
Add a tiny dash of garlic to pastas sauces, green beans, and chicken.
Can be used to flavour soups, vegetables and pasta dishes.
Great for chicken and fish dishes but be careful to only use the leaves and not the twigs.
I find, in small amounts ginger is lovely served in baked fruit dishes and muesli slices.
Remember children’s sense of taste is generally much ‘stronger’ than ours and their digestion is still maturing. Start out with 1/4 tsp per two cups of food as a guide and add herbs and spices at the beginning of cooking soft foods such as vegetables and towards the end of slow-cooking foods.
It’s never too late to start adding the flavour of herbs and spices in your kids’ meals. It really is only fair that their taste buds don’t become accustomed to manufactured flavourings to entice their appetite – and you may just enjoy it as well!
Do you have fussy eaters? What are some of your favourite herbs?
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