Alrighty! Here is part 2 of my series on “Learning to Like Beets” – a challenge I’ve come up with for myself to expose my kids multiple times in multiple ways to beets at home as I’ve decided that they are served too infrequently at home and I wanted to change that. Of course, I hoped that in the process, my kids would come to like them (’cause when they were previously served, they were utterly and completely disliked).
You can read Part 1 of this post here.
I’ve continued the challenge with three recipes: beet & quinoa.burgers, beet chips & beet hummus.
All three recipes I chose based on the fact that they like the “original” versions of these food (hamburger/veggie burgers, potato chips & plain hummus). I use the concept of food chaining – changing one property of these already loved foods – to lure them in, if you will, to trying the beet flavoured version of these recipes. I spread the recipes out over a period of three weeks (one per week) and had them involved in the cooking process in 2 of the 3 recipes. I will say from now that having there was difference noted in how many times they repeatedly tasted the food during and after the cooking process when they helped with the recipe vs. when they did not.
After many (many!) trial and errors trying to perfect the beet chip – I finally got it work. The key? In short, using raw beets, salting and drying them out really well vs. using pre-peeled and cooked LoveBeets from Costco which were too wet and ended up burning when baking in the oven.
When making these chips, the kids helped me peel the beets and went crazy over the red stains on their hands. They didn’t like it at first, until I told them that they could use them to try and make tattoos after we were done. They agreed. They helped me slice the beets with a slicer, salt them, pat them dry after about 20 min, and then lay them out on the pan to bake. When done, they looked excited that they turned out looking thin and curled like real chips! They each eagerly took in two chips in their mouths at once and Thomas went from a happy “Mmm!!” to a scoured face “ugh” in a matter of 5 seconds.
Main comment: Too “beety”!
Then I asked this simple question:
“Does it taste better at the beginning, middle or end?”
Thomas said beginning, and proceeded to try it two more times. Jonah said “NEVER!”, after promptly making this face below:
I ate the rest of the chips and then quickly grabbed the other half of the beet sitting on the counter. I showed them how it stained my hands and told them “let’s try and make beet tattoos with the rest of it!”. We boiled the rest and use a cookie cutter to make a shape into the beet, pressed it against out skin and… well…I don’t know how people did in on all those other blogs – but they didn’t work for us. The stain didn’t take in any particular shape on our skin – just sort of formed a pink blob shape. They laughed at me and we all moved on.
These beet burgers from Wendy Polisi sure looked like a winner to me. They were made with a mixture of chickpeas and quinoa, and the patty was bound between lots of filling and a big fluffy bun. I figured that even if my kids didn’t love the flavour on it’s own, any strong beet taste would be masked by the other components of the burger.
Well – maybe it was the fact that they didn’t help me make this recipe – but they did not like this one bit! My little guy dug in with a huge bite with high hopes that he would like it, and immediately spit it out into a trash can. They both refused to try any more, so I responded with “No problem – maybe next time!”. They each chose to pick apart the burger and eat it decomposed (just the parts they liked). As I always say, you can’t win every time. Count it as an exposure accomplished, and move on!
The last recipe was this beet hummus from Jessica in the Kitchen. It was made together with the kids about a week after their exposure to beets via the beet burger, and this time, they helped me with opening up the can of chickpeas, peeling and cutting the beet, and adding the remaining ingredients to the food processor. It was a super quick one to make, which was nice. I set it out with some crackers and told them to go to town.
They loved it!
They still recognized the “beet” flavour, but with some lemon juice and garlic to cut through the taste, it worked fantastically. They only ate a couple bites with the hummus on a cracker as they said it was enough beets. I asked them – would you like it better if it was on something other than a cracker? They said “yes… croutons!”.
I didn’t mind. I pulled out some pre-made croutons and although it was hard to dip into the hummus as they were so small, they gobbled it up.
As I asked the boys to help me clean up in the kitchen after making the beet hummus, something unexpected happened. Jonah picked up a piece of leftover beet of the cutting board, and took a little lick. He then proceeded to take the tiniest little nibble and proclaimed “It tastes like nothing!”.
Who knew that a food that tasted like “nothing” could sound so amazing!
Naturally, Thomas followed suit and gave the raw beet a try. “Yeah.. tastes like nothing!”. By nothing, I’m sure what they meant was mild, but it’s interesting how that root-y, beet-y flavour was toned down in the raw form without having to mask it with any other food and ALSO how awesome it was that they tried it on their own without me even saying a word!
It’s just as I tell my clients…the chances that they will try (and like) new foods go waaayyy up the more they are exposed to it, and being in the kitchen is the PERFECT place to get them exposed to it with their fives senses in a non-pressured way!
I hope this documenting process has help you all to see how this can work in your home as well. It’s taken 5 very deliberate exposure to get them to become accustomed to and open to eating beets in certain formats. I know that with continued exposure and a low pressure enviroment, the current way they accept beets will continue to expand and evolve. After all, research shows that it takes 10-20 times of repeated exposure before a food is accepted. So keep at it!
If you’re looking for help or ideas on how to implement an ‘expose and expand’ philosophy in your home, contact me for one-on-one help anytime!