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Don’t Believe Every Thing You Think


Picky eaters.

We all know one…maybe we are one…or we once were.

Almost every single day, we hear “I don’t like _________.”  You can fill in the blank with all kinds of things such as onions, corn, mushrooms, seafood, olives and beets…the list is long.  But hang on!

As adults, have we ever stopped to think about what EXACTLY we don’t like?  Could this be a matter of we THINK we don’t like something, which leads us to not even try it?  And, how long has it been since we have tried that particular food?  Hopefully, we are not still holding onto childhood memories from when we were 5 years old!

OK, before we go on, we have a confession.  As we were writing this coaching tip, we tried to come up with something we THINK we don’t like.  The first thing that came to mind…beef liver (or liver and onions)!  Stay tuned to see how this story turns out!

Kids can be particularly picky...

Most young kids have palettes that are sensitive to certain foods…particularly foods with new textures or intense flavors.

When our son was very young, the pediatrician would tell us you have to put a food in front of them around 14 times before they will eat it.  Trust us when we say, we put green beans in front of that kid at least 40 times and no deal!

But then we tried roasting them (with a little olive oil, salt and pepper).  The result?  They stayed crunchier, had more flavor, and he loved them!  The difference?  Yes, he had gotten a little older, but it was mostly how they were prepared.  All kids can be a work-in-progress when it comes to trying new things, but we have seen first-hand how their food preferences can change — our son even requests Parsnip Fries every year for his birthday meal!

 

Adults can be picky too…

We grew up not liking certain foods.  My most “hated” food was mushrooms, but I would venture to say my husband was much pickier than me!  He had a long list of foods he thought he didn’t like…including eggs, pickles, raisins, tomatoes and more.

As we transformed our eating habits to focus on REAL food, this caused us to also change the way we prepared these foods.  We had never experienced how great they tasted prepared different ways or as an ingredient in a great-tasting recipe (like pickles as part of a delicious Tropical Pork Cuban Sandwich).  Today, not only do we absolutely LOVE all these foods, we actually CRAVE them!

 

Our minds are made up before the food reaches our mouths…

Have you ever watched a picky eater?  Their brain has decided before they even try the food that they don't like it.  They think “Eww” and they haven’t even tasted it!  It's a fact – we all tend to make snap judgments based on prior experiences.

Think about it – we put constraints on ourselves if we say we hate beets when our only experience with them is the pickled version from the salad bar.  Because of that experience, we rule out beets entirely and we miss out on fantastic dishes…after all, we know roasted beets taste fantastic and are nothing like the pickled, canned version!

We recently had an Eat REAL America member tell us after making the Brussels Sprouts Hash that she didn’t even know she liked Brussels sprouts…now, she can’t wait to make them again!  Then, a while ago, after serving samples of the Fire-Roasted Sloppy Joes (with Butternut Squash) at a local event, someone said, “I don’t want to try it because I don’t like butternut squash.”  After a little encouragement, she agreed to try them, then came right back – so excited she was about to burst! She excitedly said, “Those are great - I had no idea butternut squash could taste so good!”  So, think of all the wonderful food experiences we could be missing out on!

 

Be adventurous…

It can be so much more fun to NOT be a picky eater!  Think about when you are eating at a great restaurant – do you really want to ask a Chef to prepare a dish “without the onions?”

Eat REAL America has given us the opportunity to get to know some of our amazing, passionate and very innovative local Chefs and a common frustration is when someone asks for a signature dish to be prepared “without onions” or “without (pick your ingredient).”  These flavor experts have created meals to be enjoyed as prepared, with all the ingredients working together to provide you with an amazing, flavorful food experience.  So, we should give them the benefit of the doubt!  Try enjoying their dishes as is — you might be surprised that you actually like the food you thought you had an aversion to!

 

A few things to think about...

 

  1. Be open-minded!  Get out of your comfort zone.  Try something you THINK you don’t like.  When foods are prepared differently, this could be the key to finding something you love…or at least learn to appreciate!  Recently, a friend said, "I don't like fruit in salads."  Then, she had a great-tasting strawberry spinach salad that was a game changer…her mind is now open to trying more of these types of salads that she previously wouldn’t even consider.
  2. Preparation is the key!  Keep trying those “not so sure about” foods until you find a preparation or recipe you like.  Just because you try a mushroom soup and still aren’t fond of mushrooms, this doesn’t mean you might not fall in love with Creamy Mushroom Risotto (one of my personal favorites!) or Mushroom Tortilla Pizza.  And, remember, I used to not like mushrooms when I was younger — what was I thinking?!
  3. It doesn’t have to be your favorite!  Even though you may never love a certain food, at least you can learn to appreciate it and be open to enjoying it in different dishes.  You don’t have to seek out this food every week, but maybe it will help you enjoy new and unique experiences with certain foods in the future.
  4. Someone is always watching!  Most importantly, remember that someone is always watching your behavior.  If you comment how much you don’t like a food, guess what conclusion others are likely to arrive at?!  We have seen this first hand at our dinner table…if older sister says she doesn’t like it, there is a 99.9% probability younger brother will make the same conclusion!

 

What foods do you THINK you don’t like?  How can we help to get you past that perception?  

Please let us know!

 

And, by the way, the conclusion of the liver story?  We found a recipe for Beef Liver with Fig, Bacon and Caramelized Onions that sounded great.  Even though we were still apprehensive about the liver, it actually exceeded our expectations!  Now, it may never be my favorite, but we have gotten over our perception that we hated liver, and we can honestly say we would try it again -- who would have thought?!

 

Beef Liver with Fig, Bacon and Caramelized Onions

(adapted from www.thehealthyfoodie.com)

Ingredients:

1 lb beef liver

1 Tbsp lemon juice

3 Tbsp of olive oil (divided)

4 Tbsp arrowroot (or cornstarch)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

4 slices bacon (nitrate free)

2 yellow onions, sliced

8 oz package of mushrooms, of your choice, sliced

4 dried figs, chopped

2 sprigs of fresh sage, leaves removed and chopped

2 Tbsp of white balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic vinegar is fine too)

1/4 cup water

Directions:

  1. Place the beef liver in a glass container and add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice.  Let marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until bacon is browned and cooked through.  Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any grease and set aside.
  3. In a medium size skillet, add 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the sliced onions and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently as they brown and caramelize.  (Reduce heat if they begin browning too quickly).
  4. In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  5. Remove the beef liver from the refrigerator and rinse each piece and pat dry with a paper towel.  Cut the beef liver into strips and place on a plate while you heat up the skillet.
  6. Add remaining olive oil to a large skillet over high heat.  Dip each piece of beef liver into the arrowroot mixture then place in the hot skillet.  You only want to cook them for about one minute per side, so they are nicely browned.  When done, remove from the skillet and set aside on a clean plate.
  7. When all the liver has been cooked, reduce the heat to medium high heat and add the onions to the large skillet (where you cooked the liver).  Stir in the mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes until mushrooms are tender and browned.
  8. Now add the figs, balsamic and water to the onion/mushroom mixture and stir until liquid is absorbed.
  9. Add the fresh sage and liver back into the skillet and stir gently to combine.  Turn off the heat and let everything sit in the skillet for a minute to warm up the liver.
  10. Serve immediately topped with crumbled bacon.  Enjoy!

Remember, as we discussed in our coaching tip on processed meats, when it comes to bacon, it's important to realize a little goes a long way!  Enjoy in moderation and always balance these meats with lots of nutrient-rich REAL FOOD!

 

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