There are some things our school and school district does that’s pretty cool. While I don’t love every decision, when I heard about the grant obtained by the school nurses to provide a vegetable to try once a month, I thought it was pretty cool. Each month, on the first Tuesday, a vegetable will be prepared and put into sample cups for the kids to try. There is enough for each kid to have at least one, but no one has to have it.
As good of eaters are the wee ones are (and I’m so incredibly grateful for that), we still have our food issues. I know there are many foods Mister Man can’t or won’t eat because of their texture, and I get it. Things I wish he could or would eat make him gag and worse – avocados, hummus, peppers, tomatoes, and more. But he eats other things because of our try new foods rule. He’s discovered that edamame is pretty awesome. And so are baked sweet potatoes. And fresh peas. And green beans. And sugar snap peas. And cranberries. And even the old standby of carrots.
Getting the wee ones to try new foods can be a challenge sometimes. And I love that the schools are helping, which puts a little added peer pressure on it. The principal announces that morning what the vegetable is and that she wants everyone to try it. She goes through the lunchroom during lunch to talk to the kids about what they think and encourage them again. And they see their friends eating it.
Yesterday, it was my turn to be one of the moms helping to hand out the samples. When I announced at breakfast that the vegetable this month was black beans, both wee ones looked at me in horror and announced that they don’t like black beans. Great.
Once at school, all my concerns about how they were going to prepare the black beans were alleviated (last month’s broccoli was unfortunately cooked beyond recognition and October’s sweet potatoes were doused a little too liberally with cinnamon). They had made black bean salsa. It had canned black beans, canned diced tomatoes, frozen corn and a little spice for flavor. Each sample cup had a tortilla chip or two in it for dipping, and the kids were drawn to it like moths to a flame.
Yes, we had some kid who came up and wanted just a tortilla chip – which I denied them, explaining that they had to try the black beans first. Some then would take the black beans, and some didn’t. But most of the kids who came up wanted seconds. And thirds. And they would have come up for fourths if I hadn’t told them we didn’t have enough to give them thirds. They really liked it. One of my friend’s sons who is the pickiest eater was a tortilla chip only kid. I convinced him to try it, and I made him taste it in front of me. He ate the whole thing. And came back for seconds. My friend still doesn’t believe me. Oh the power of peer pressure – in a positive way!
The cutest were the kids who came up wanting seconds but hiding the stickers I had given them so that I didn’t know they’d already had a sample. When I called them on it, they would shamefacedly admit it and start to walk away until I explained that they were welcome to a second sample but that they just had to be honest about wanting a second one instead of trying to hide that they’d had one. Hopefully some of that sunk in, as well.
And the stickers were popular. Every child who tried the black bean salsa – whether they liked it or not – received a sticker that they could proudly wear for the rest of the day. It’s another little feel good for the kids that they did something new and were acknowledged for it.
As for the wee ones? Well, I knew with tomatoes and black beans, there was no way Mister Man could tolerate the salsa. I didn’t make him try it. Little Miss on the other hand was required to have some. And she came back for seconds. Apparently I’ll be making black bean salsa at home, as she gave it two thumbs up.
So thank you to my awesome school for helping not just my children but all the children in the district open their eyes and stomachs to foods they might not otherwise try. I’ll take all the help I can get. What do you do to try to increase the breadth of your child’s palate?