My kids told me the that their Dad makes better grilled cheese and better chocolate milk than I do. How can that be possible? Well, he adds extra cheese and butter on the sandwich and extra chocolate in the milk of course! As a family, our diet is mostly healthy and we eat out only once or twice a week. However, I often find Oreos, Doritos, premixed chocolate milk, yogurt with candy pieces and ice cream of all varieties when my husband B. goes shopping. I can’t even go on about the secret weekend donut/dessert runs. These take place early in the morning on weekends when I am still asleep or out for a run.
I have told B. that taste is acquired for healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits. While sugar is readily accepted by kids. Kids have more taste buds and their taste buds are more sensitive. Taste involves not just physical signals but sensory ones too. (Accounting for Taste) We find food to be tastier if it is plated nicely on pretty dish or a fancy spoon. Food appears attractive when it it is presented with garnishes. We are already bombarded with images of unhealthy foods that are loaded in fat, calories and sugar. And those images are not of fresh, whole foods that are unprocessed fruits, vegetables or grains.
With each meal, I try to include a fresh fruit or vegetable. I would like my kids to be exposed to these tastes everyday. Taste can be changed. For example, people with health issues that are forced to cut back or sugar or salt, find the foods they used to eat previously taste too salty or too sugary after a few months. The more we eat certain foods, the more we get used to the taste.
While I can’t stop B. from buying junk food, I do have solace in the fact that taste changes with age. (Taste changes with age) As we get older, the number of taste buds adults have decreases. Adults have around 10,000 taste buds and kids have 30,000. And, we are more inclined as adults to try new foods and new tastes. Grown ups look at food not only from a taste perspective, but a health perspective also. I am confident that my kids will eat better as they get older. Both of them now eat tomatoes, lettuce, onions, olives, broccoli and green beans which was unheard of just a few years ago.
I can assure you that I am not the food police in our house. With a Dietetics and Nutrition background and I know how to counter the unhealthy food. I let them eat the unhealthy food, but in limited quantities. Big desserts in our house are for the weekends only. I adopted this rule from one of my daughter’s classmates who was lamenting how horrible her life was without weekday desserts. Before you think I am a mean and awful Mom…during the weekdays, my kids drink chocolate milk for breakfast and lunch. I pack a little something sweet in their lunch like a small cookie or chocolate. And they eat a PB&J for lunch everyday at school (their favorite). I know they will remember the “dessert on weekends only” with great fondness…hardship makes us stronger…right?!
The following recipe is a vegan Hot Artichoke Dip that even my kids love. It is low in calories and big on taste. I hope you like it.
Hot Vegan Artichoke Dip
2 cans of quartered Artichoke Hearts (14 oz cans)
2 T Vegan Mayonnaise (I use “Follow Your Heart” Veganaise)
2 T Nutritional Yeast
1 t Garlic Powder
1 t Salt
Drain the artichokes and add them to a food processor. Add the Veganaise, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt and blend until smooth. If your dip is too thick, try adding a tablespoon of water or several as needed. Empty into a serving bowl and microwave for one minute or empty into a pan and heat until hot. I like to eat mine with veggies, toasted baguette slices or toasted pita/chapati/naan.