Adventures in Veggieland by Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP
Check out this new and creative book on teaching children to venture in to the world of vegetables. I will confess I got a sneak peak a few months back. What I love the most is that the vegetables are introduced by seasons. This book is filled with beautiful pictures, creative activities, and yummy recipes. While we have been calling Melanie “Coach Mel”, we may be calling her “Chef Mel” after this book.
From Mel: For a peek at the research and the recipes, readers can use the LOOK INSIDE feature on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2pgxn23 As of today, Amazon has it for 39% off, but books are anticipated to start shipping at the end of this week, so pre-order pricing could end very soon.
Melanie shared the preface, exclusively for Pediatric Feeding News!
Adventures in Veggieland: Preface
I KNOW IT’S NOT ALWAYS easy to raise kids to be healthy, happy eaters, because I’m a mom whose first child was quite the adventurous little foodie and whose second daughter was very hesitant about new foods. In fact, during her toddler years, she ate Cheerios and milk almost every night for dinner. Today my eldest daughter, Mallory, will still eat almost anything, unless it has mayonnaise. We are still working on that. Carly, the youngest, no longer depends on cereal and milk, eats all sorts of vegetables, and is gradually accepting the fact that salsa has cilantro in it. It’s going to be a long road to make friends with cilantro.
Everyone’s food adventure is unique, with different roadblocks and detours. But there are three proven strategies for helping kids learn to love any kind of food, especially vegetables. I call this magic formula the “Three E’s”—expose, explore, expand!
First, research shows that it’s vital to expose kids to new vegetables throughout the year. A key part of that exposure is food play. In Adventures in Veggieland, you’ll introduce every single vegetable to your child with hands-on activities that familiarize the body and brain with the sensory aspects of fresh vegetables, including touch, aroma, and even the sound of the crunch. Think of it as a first playdate. We want it to go well, be focused on fun, and have the kids asking, “When can we get together again?”
Second, you’ll begin to explore other aspects of that same vegetable (things like texture, taste, and temperature) via two delectable but oh-so-easy recipes. Kids prep and cook the food right along with you, every step of the way. This is where you’ll introduce taste testing. Keep a jar of tiny tasting spoons on the kitchen counter, just like professional chefs do. Encourage frequent tastes of whatever you’re making together. Kids need to know that not everything will taste good right away, and that’s OK. Our job as chefs is to determine what else it needs to taste just right. How will we know if we don’t stop and taste as we cook? Between you and me, those frequent tastings are the secret to this stage. When you have a child who will taste almost anything, and you continue to expose them to that taste over time, they learn to love that food.
Third, you’ll have two more recipes showcasing that vegetable and begin to expand your child’s palate. More complex flavors will be introduced, and the final recipe will always be a sweet treat. It won’t necessarily be what you might think of as dessert, but nevertheless, it will be sweet and delicious. Sometimes the vegetables in the treats won’t be obvious, but if your child is part of the process, she will know that a lot of red beets went into those delectable chocolate cupcakes. It’s not about hiding vegetables—it’s about including veggies whenever possible. When we include vegetables in entrées, side dishes, and even desserts, our kids experience repeated, positive exposures. They get to explore all the sensory aspects of each one and begin to expand their variety over time.
How do I know this? It’s not just my experience with my own fussy eater; it’s my experience with thousands of picky eaters. I’m a pediatric speech language pathologist and feeding specialist, but the kids I work with just call me “Coach Mel.” I’m their food coach, and together we learn to become adventurous eaters. I’ve helped parents raise healthy, happy eaters for over twenty years, and I’m delighted to help you on this journey. It won’t happen overnight, but we will get there. Always remember to keep the adventure joyful, focus on the process (not the bite), and create wonderful memories as you parent in the kitchen.