My son Aidan won’t eat a single vegetable. Not one! As a veggie lover, this can break my heart if I think about it too much. As a mother, it drives me crazy and worries me that he is not getting proper nutrients from a well-rounded diet. I have tried everything to expand his palate, including making fun games out of using chopsticks, finding ways to help him actually eat his lunch, letting him discover the joy of cooking, even making edible sensory food! All of these strategies have helped some, but Aidan’s strong will and “supertaster” senses dominate. But my son’s selective tastes have made me recently humbly realize that I can’t be too hard on him because...I am also a “picky eater!” As much as I love to cook and love to eat, there are just a lot of foods that I don’t care for and are not part of my diet. Luckily, these include a lot of things that probably shouldn’t be there anyway, like pastries and red meat, but there are plenty of other nutritious things that I wish I would eat, if it weren’t for my own selective food habits. How can I expect my child to overcome his unwillingness to try new foods if I don’t do so myself? This insight was very eye-opening.
Then I realized...what if I gave some foods I have always disliked a second chance? Might this inspire Aidan to give some more things a try? Moreover, if, after all these years, I discovered I actually liked something I thought I never did, would that help my son realize that tastes can change for the better over time?
Regardless of the outcome it had on Aidan, I decided to give two veggies I’ve never liked a second try recently – radishes and asparagus. I’m a huge advocate of what fiber can do for a person’s overall health, and asparagus is a great source of prebiotic fiber, which is what “feeds” the good bacteria that live in your gut, almost acting as fertilizer for them. Asparagus is also packed with antioxidants, folate, and vitamins A, E, and K. As for radishes, they are also a great source of fiber, and are also high in vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Both veggies are also a great way to “eat your rainbow.”
I decided to roast the asparagus, bringing out an earthy richness to them that I had never experienced before. Using some of my favorite things to roast with, garlic and lemons, helped elevate the taste and eliminated any blandness that existed in my inaccurate memory of asparagus. And in all honesty, I really liked them! They are a perfect accompaniment to a succulent chicken or roast and a starchy side, like risotto or mashed potatoes. And knowing that I am eating such a nutritious vegetable that offers me benefits I cannot find in many other things sealed the deal for me. I now incorporate roasted asparagus into my meal planning regularly. It will never be my favorite, like my beloved yam or beet, but who knew – I actually don’t mind them!
As for radishes, I can’t remember what exactly turned me off about them, but I just know I’ve always put them in that category of “things I don’t eat.” But I’ve discovered that I actually, honestly, love them now. All it took was a little pickling. Pickling, which basically means that you’re preserving something using a vinegar or brine, adds an acidic quality to the radishes that are a great note on your palate to brighten up a salty or rich dish. Radishes naturally add texture, brightness, crunch, and color to a meal, and the pickled salad I make with them is the perfect complement to grilled proteins, nutritious rices, or even stir frys.
I’d be lying if I said that Aidan magically starting enjoying vegetables as soon as I gave my old aversions a second chance, but there have been fruitful take-away lessons from the process. Firstly, I’ve learned that it’s silly and just plain wrong to assume that if you don’t like a certain food, you’ll always feel that way. That might sound obvious, but if you’re not actively thinking about what you don’t like to eat, you may not realize it. Also, it made me understand that there are probably a bunch of other things I haven’t eaten in years that I might enjoy now. What a wealth of opportunity! If there is hope for this picky eater, maybe there’s hope for others, including my own son!
So what foods have you always disliked or downright hated? Maybe it’s time to give them a second chance! Keep reading for my asparagus and radish recipes!
Pickled Radish and Snap Pea Salad
• 1 cup thinly sliced radishes
• 1 cup fresh sugar snap peas, trimmed
• 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• One tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Combine vinegar and sugar in bowl, whisking until blended. Add radishes and snap peas, toss to combine. Let stand. Top with toasted sesame seeds to serve.
Lemony Roasted Asparagus
• One bunch fresh asparagus
• Extra virgin olive oil
• One lemon
• One clove garlic, minced
• Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Break off tough, woody ends of asparagus. Line on a baking sheet or stoneware and add minced garlic. Squeeze ½ the lemon over the asparagus and place a few lemon slice in the sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus, and season with salt and pepper. Using your hands or tongs, toss everything thoroughly to coat and spread asparagus back in a single layer. Roast in oven for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until crispy-tender.