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.
As explored in previous articles, although trying to elicit a response and collect feedback on the kinds of foods your child enjoys may appear to you as a process to engage with them, it can often cause a child to feel boxed-in. The resistance to say they enjoy any particular foods can stem from feeling rushed to make this decision before they’ve had a chance to explore their ever-evolving palate and the language of taste, rather than them truly not enjoying a food. Focus on the end goal being promoting curiosity and excitement when tastes change, rather than aiming to have a committed yes or no answer from your child.
The recipe card:
Promote ownership over their custom guacamole creation by providing them paper and pencils, markers, or crayons to create their own recipe card based on their ingredient decision. In our class, we did a variation of drawing our ingredients, writing out their names and measurements, or a mix of both. Ask your child how they would like to design the recipe card, helping the younger ones with spelling as needed.
The Recipe – “My Guacamole Recipe”
The first step in any recipe:
- Wash your hands! Cooking together is a great way to reinforce good hygiene habits. As well, it’s a good idea to tie all long hair into a bun or pony tail so no hands are accidentally touching their face as they work.
Ingredients & Tools
- Mixing Bowls
Create food option stations to select:
- Salt and pepper
- Chopped onion
- Garlic powder/minced garlic
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot pepper (depending on age and spice tolerance)
Tip: If your avocados are taking a while to ripen, put them in a bag with a banana (preferably starting to brown and in a paper bag) to speed up the process. Banana’s produce a gas called ethylene, which encourages the ripening process.
- Divide up the avocados into the mixing bowls and ask your child to begin mashing them
- Ask your child to select each ingredient at the food stations, then have them mix in their selection at whatever amount they think is best
- Encourage them to taste their creation and adjust their recipe based on their preferences (see prompts below)
Bonus Recipe – Leftover Pita/Tortilla Baked Chips:
Whether you’re fishing out some frozen tortillas or pita from the freezer, or taking some few day-old tortillas from a bag, this recipe is a quick way to reduce food waste while engaging in some motor function with your little one. Preheat the oven to 350°F while they tear up the chips to whatever size they think is best. Add them to a bowl, and pour a capful of olive oil for your child to drizzle over the chips and then toss or shake up the bowl. Add these to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and have them use the salt grinder over the chips before popping them in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes. This is a perfect addition to their guacamole recipe, and will add to their accomplishment of leading the creation of a full snack.
We learn a lot of cool facts in class about how avocados grow, but we always love seeing the growing process in action. Before we watch, we make a prediction of how many days we think it will take to grow. Here’s a video of an avocado from seed to plant (not yet with fruit): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMjV7Y3nSzQ
Questions & Prompts:
- How would they describe the flavour – we try to engage in the five core flavour profiles: salty, sweet, sour, umami and bitter
- Where are these tastes on their tongue? Do they change as time goes on?
- What vegetable tastes similar? Or are these completely new tastes?
- What’s the difference between the tastes of the various ingredients?
- What is the texture like? Is it crispy, mushy, crunchy, hard, soft, moist, dry?
- How did the texture change when mixed together?
Fun Facts and Health Benefits:
- Avocados are a berry fruit
- One of the few fruits with healthy unsaturated fats and protein
- They are sometimes called an “alligator pear” because the skin looks like an alligator
- Most trees will grow about 150 avocados per year, but some can grow up to 300 per year (when they are age 5 to 7 years old)
- There are over 500 types of avocados grown worldwide
- Avocados originated from Mexico and were discovered by the Aztecs in 500 BC
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