From Mac ‘N Cheese to “More Kale, Please!”

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A bowl of pasta with “no green things.” I wouldn’t order anything else until I was nine or ten years old. If, god forbid, there was a piece of parsley as a garnish, my dinner was ruined. Broccoli and green beans were the only two green vegetables in my rotation for years, and the only fruits I ate until pretty recently were apples and watermelon. This was the life I led as a painfully picky kid.

In the past year as a vegan, I’ve probably consumed more fruits and vegetables than ever before. After ousting meat, dairy, and eggs, there were definitely gaps in my diet that I needed to fill. In came the kale, zucchini, and blueberries, out went the ice cream, cheese, and pizza. I am a strong believer that the tendency to be a fussy eater is innate, and I’ve noticed that it’s often the youngest child who’s pickiest. My older sister was always asking to try some of what my parents were eating, while I happily ate my chicken nuggets night after night. Although I did have to force myself to try new foods at first, eventually it came naturally. Instead of leaning on vegan “junk” – fake meats and faux cheese – I learned to love greens…enough to have them for breakfast!

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We all know that whole fruits and vegetables have a smaller carbon footprint than processed, packaged foods – it takes lots of energy to turn a potato into a potato chip, and even more energy to transport them from farm to factory to supermarket. So what if your kids are turning their noses up at all the nutritious, environmentally-friendly produce nature has to offer? The key is integration, my friend. The first time I had a banana (believe it or not, was just this past fall), I sliced it onto a cereal that I already liked. The first time I had a pepper, it was in a stir-fry with other familiar veggies. It’s definitely not as intimidating to try something new when it’s combined with other foods you know and like, and eventually the food won’t be new anymore! Although it may take years, as it did for me, I truly believe anyone can turn around their pickiness. Now if only I could conquer my fear of trying tomatoes…

Photo credits: ecstaticist and shutterbean via Flickr

One thought on “From Mac ‘N Cheese to “More Kale, Please!”

  1. Mark Koenig

    A well-written article with a personal touch. So realistic. I can hear the author talking to kids across the country and imaging them hanging on every word.

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