Comparing and contrasting food is a great way to ask exploratory open-ended questions about how a food engages our senses and later transition to questions on taste. Encourage curiosity and critical thinking by listing observations and making predictions about the squash varieties before you start cooking. Here are some examples from our recent Urban Farming & Cooking Class:
The key to promoting open-mindedness and excitement over trying new foods with kids is providing them as much control and decision-making power as possible. Trust is reciprocal, and as your child feels trusted with decisions and contributing to the cooking process, they’ll feel like they can trust the space to openly assess how they taste something
Zoodles are an accessible way to put your child in charge of the meal’s main event, while making something visually interesting and with a firmer texture then sliced or chopped options. Engage in some sensory exploration by challenging them to make and find the longest zoodle they can, and count the rings remaining on the end of a spiralized zucchini. This recipe is as great for exploring tastes as it is for enhancing fine and gross motor skills!
The versatility of cabbage when cooking with kids cannot be emphasized enough. Whether you’re lighting roasting or sautéing the leaves to introduce some oil and salt tastes, searing cabbage-steaks to absorb some Dijon and maple flavours, or munching on it raw in this egg-free coleslaw recipe, kids have ample opportunities to focus on the many ways it can be prepared and their reaction to the variations, rather than deciding the foods merit based on one flavour profile.
There’s no shortage of ketchup varieties available, but no matter what brand name or homemade option you’re reaching for, all bottles provide a perfect introduction to the five core tastes; sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami.
This or that? Exploring new foods with deeper questions around why one is tastier than another allows you the ability to prompt more descriptive answers when discussing food, rather than giving kids the intimidating “yes or no” options only.
We start every cooking and urban farming class with asking exploratory questions about our main vegetable of the day. For brussel sprouts, we were curious about if they grow from the inside-out, or the outside-in. We also tried to think of other vegetables that seem similar, and our students were right to think they were similar to cabbages as they are both members of the brassica family!