Kids Won’t Eat Vegetables? Mrs. Obama Says Let Them Eat Steak—and Arugula: Five Expert Tips to Adjust your Child's Palate

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As First Lady Michelle Obama said earlier this week, young children really can learn to like vegetables if given an opportunity to try more healthful, flavorful foods (source). Child eating expert and author Nancy Tringali Piho offers five tips to help adjust your child’s palate.

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My-Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus

When children eat beyond a steady diet of ‘kiddie foods,’ their taste buds grow to appreciate a broader variety of flavors.

“My favorite is arugula and steak,” said Mrs. Obama, during a round table discussion at Ma’O Organic Farms in Waiane, Hawaii on Saturday. “But we find the same thing is true with young kids, and if they get their palates adjusted to those very interesting flavors, they stay connected.” (source)

“That’s exactly what happens,” agreed child eating expert Nancy Tringali Piho, author of the book My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything (Bull Publishing Company, ISBN: 978-1-933503-17-2, $16.95.)

“When children eat beyond a steady diet of ‘kiddie foods,’ their taste buds grow to appreciate a broader variety of flavors. So foods that are bitter or sour, or those made with a combination of flavors or a more complex texture, actually taste better than the standard fat-salt-sweet that is the flavor profile of everyday children’s foods," says Piho.

Piho offers 5 tips to adjust children’s palates:

1.     Start infants out with “real” flavors by choosing homemade baby foods over the jarred variety. “It’s easy to steam carrots or fresh beans, mash them up and feed to a new eater,” Piho said. “It’s also less expensive than buying commercial baby food and the taste is so much better.”

2.     Don’t be afraid to spice it up! “Parents often believe that kids prefer bland foods, and they are almost afraid to add herbs, spices and things that will give foods more interesting flavors,” Piho said. “When all kids have had is boiled veggies, it’s no wonder they don’t like them.” Try roasting or grilling vegetables, or saute with a bit of white pepper and fresh herbs.

3.     Think “fresh” and “flavorful” for young children’s snacks. Cut-up fruits and vegetables, plain Greek yogurt or a small serving of a delicious cheese is a better choice than packaged crackers.

4.     Skip the juice. Always! “Why teach children that beverages should be sweet?” Piho asks, Instead, have children drink water or plain milk.

5.     Start kids off eating adult cereals, rather than children’s cereals, which are intensely sweeter in taste.

Piho says the influence of parents in a child’s early years is vital for teaching children about food in a way that will benefit their health and well-being throughout their lives. Her book, My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus, offers sound nutrition advice and draws on the research and experience of food and health professionals as well as renowned chefs.

About the author--Nancy Tringali Piho offers a unique perspective as a 20-year veteran of the food marketing industry, as well as the mom of two little boys who love to eat. For more information about Nancy, visit her website at or email her directly

About the book--My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat EVERYTHING (Bull Publishing Company, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-933503-17-2, $16.95, is available from bookstores nationwide and all major online booksellers.


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