BY ANNA JULIEN | www.thebabybumpdiaries.com
Thanksgiving is all about spending quality time with family and enjoying a meal together. As a parent of a young toddler however, holiday gatherings can bring about a little stress. Toddlers thrive on routines and holidays are anything but the norm. Two-year-olds are unpredictable at best – I never know how my daughter will behave with all the additional attention from relatives or what she will actually eat as we gather around the table. I envision her sitting down, recognizing just a few items (including the bread) and immediately becoming disinterested.
I attempt to introduce her to some of the foods she will find on the table this Thanksgiving, I created a mini food tasting. My daughter’s preschool teachers conduct a monthly food tasting with the kids and I absolutely love the idea.
My daughter excitedly describes the texture, taste, and color of the chosen food. The food tasting I created centers around the traditional flavors found at our Thanksgiving feast: pumpkin, apple, cranberry, carrot, and sweet potato.
The goal of the food tasting was twofold; to familiarize my daughter with the flavors and also show her what the food looks like in its unprocessed or “undressed” state. For example, roasted sweet potatoes and pumpkin puree certainly taste different than a sweet potato casserole (the kind typically served with marshmallows) and a pumpkin pie.
Designing a food tasting for your budding foodie can be done in a few simple steps.
First, decide on a theme or the type of food you want to introduce and/or expand upon; simply offering a variety of apples is a great place to start.
Second, decide how detailed you want the food tasting or “lesson” to be. You could start the process at the farmers market or grocery store with older children and work all the way to the tasting (transforming whole cranberries or a pumpkin, for example).
When it pertains to my Thanksgiving food tasting, I roasted the sweet potato (400 degrees for 35 minutes) in a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. I kept the carrots and two types of apple raw, and picked up organic cranberry sauce and pumpkin puree.
My daughter’s attention span varies from moment to moment; therefore I decided to make the entire process easier and less labor intensive for me.
Despite the fact that she has eaten carrots, apples, and sweet potato before she loved describing them to me. She told me the cranberries tasted like strawberries and the pumpkin tasted like coconut – go figure!
As we approach Thanksgiving this year, I am excited to see how the meal turns out because of our little experiment. I know having the ability to reference the tasting and remind her that she’s tried many of the flavors before will help increase her confidence and interest at the dinner table.