When the kids haven't liked a particular vegetable, I have continued to serve it on occasion and dish it out to them; we then ask/insist that they have at least one mouthful - if, after that, they still really hate it, I don't force them to finish it. My hope is that if they always have (at least) one bite, that at some point the flavour will become familiar enough that they will acquire the taste for it. That method has mostly worked very well and veggies are not generally an issue around our table...
...With one consistent exception: Matthew has always hated salads.
I don't know what it is about a salad that so completely turned him off, but he has spent the first eight years of his life (well, seven eating years) hating them. Lizzie inhales them and regularly asks for more salad instead of dessert; and Seth (like with most veggies) declares that he hates salads but then eats them first and asks for more. But Matthew just shudders and, after an obligatory bite, cannot eat any more. Occasionally he has even gagged upon that first mouthful.
Until about four days ago. Geoff made a basic salad for dinner one night on the weekend: Fresh baby spinach; diced tomatoes; a sprinkle of crumbled bacon; some shredded marble cheese; and tossed with a wee bit of low-fat cucumber dressing (none of us like a lot of dressing). As usual, we put some on each kid's plate and, as usual, Matthew was asked to eat at least one mouthful.
I almost dropped my fork when Matthew suddenly announced, with his mouth full of spinach, that Daddy made the most awesome salads and that he loved this salad. I think I literally had my mouth open, watching him chew happily. He then asked if he could have just salad for dinner. I hesitated, not knowing quite how to respond, and then suggested that he finish the salad portion he'd been given and eat some of the rest of his balanced plate of food; if, after that, he still wanted more salad, he was welcome to have as much as he liked. The words sounded very foreign coming out of my mouth, let me tell you!
Well, that boy finished his dinner and then ate another four medium-sized plates of salad! Over and over, and throughout the next day, he commented about how much he had loved that salad and could we please have that again.
We've had three large salads for dinner since then: Two more spinach salads; and one caesar salad. I really don't know what's happened, and I find it interesting that Matthew has also begun to like slightly spicier food in the past two months. Something about his taste buds certainly seems to have changed. Whatever it is, I'm delighted. Geoff and I love salads and I'd love for this to be a regular add-on to whatever other veggies we're serving up for dinner.
I must say that it warmed that cockles of my heart, that night on the weekend, as I looked around the table and saw that all three of my kids were eating, and loving, their salads. I'd love to take credit for it as a Mom, but truly it just seems like all I've done is made it consistently available...they've done the acclimating.
Hopefully this streak continues. I plan to make a lot of salads in the coming weeks and months, to capitalize on (and cement) this taste bud adjustment; I also plan, over the coming months, to gradually expand the ingredients in the salads, so that the kids can broaden their palates a little more, but for now I have to say that I'm just glad that we're all on the same page about salads...they makes dinner that much more appealing.
I was so shocked by Matthew's sudden declarations of love for salad that I took a few pictures (mostly so that I can remind him of this should things take a turn for the worse!)
Scraping the last bits out of the bowl. Amazing.