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Don’t Believe Everything 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 mushrooms, onions, beets, kale, sweet potatoes, seafood, eggplant, Brussels sprouts…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!


Kids can be particularly picky...

Most young children have palettes that are sensitive to certain foods…particularly foods with new textures or intense flavors.  And it doesn't help that their tastebuds are bombarded with all the sugars, salts, and fats in all of the highly processed foods!

When our son was young, the pediatrician told 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 crisper, 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 - and their tastebuds - can change.  Our son even requests Parsnip Fries every year for his birthday meal!


Adults can be picky too…

Confession time.  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, eggplant, 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 in different ways or as an ingredient in a great-tasting recipe.  Like pickles as part of a delicious Tropical Pork Cuban Sandwich or eggplant with a crunchy coating in the Mini Eggplant Pizzas.

Today, we absolutely LOVE all these foods, and we actually CRAVE them!  We buy mushrooms every time we go to the store.


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.  We see this all the time in our cooking demonstrations.  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 always THOUGHT she didn’t like Brussels sprouts.  Now, she can’t wait to make them again!

Then, after serving samples of the Fire-Roasted Sloppy Joes (with Butternut Squash) at a local event, someone said, “I'm not going 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 said, “Those are amazing - I had no idea butternut squash could taste so good!”  So, think of all the amazing food experiences you 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.  A common frustration they talk about 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 a spectacular flavorful food experience.  So, we should give them the benefit of the doubt!  Try enjoying their dishes as they prepare them — you might be surprised that you actually like the food you thought you had an aversion to!


A few things to think about...


  • 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!   There is a gentleman who came to one of my farmers' market cooking demos last year and said, "I don't like fruit in salads.  Fruits and vegetables need to stay in their own lane."  He was very skeptical as he tried the Sweet Surprise Corn Salad and then was absolutely shocked how much he liked it!   His mind was now open to trying more of these types of salads that he previously wouldn't even consider.  To make a long story short, he now LOVES fruits and veggies living together.  He would tell you he has transformed his tastebuds and his cravings!  He has become a dear friend and a couple of weeks ago even helped us serve up samples at our recent farmers' market demo - he said "I think I have come full circle, I am now trying to encourage others to eat these fruit and veggie loaded salads!"


  • 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 pasta dish 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 a Roasted Mushroom Pesto Pizza.  And remember, I used to not like mushrooms — what was I thinking?!


  • 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.


  • Someone is always watching!  Most importantly, remember that someone is always watching your actions and your words.  If you comment how much you don’t like a food, guess what conclusion others are likely to arrive at?!  We have seen this firsthand at our dinner table.  If older sister says she doesn’t like it, there is a 99.9% probability younger brother will come to 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!



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One Response to Don’t Believe Everything You Think

  1. My husband is pretty much an omnivore but still makes loud noises of complaint whenever he sees me slipping a package of Brussels sprouts into the grocery cart, even though he’ll admit he’s enjoyed several of your recipes incorporating them, like the Brussels Sprout Hash you mentioned in this article. But just oven-roasted? NEVER! 🙂

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