Tuesday, November 11, 2014

#52New Foods... Toasted Sesame Kale Stir-Fry...

How many of you can relate to having kids eating the same limited scope of foods? I know I do! Breaking away from those favourites can be challenging at first. Lee in The 52 New Foods Challenge book has a clever strategy for this, what she calls Gateway Foods. Each child has their own set of Gateway Foods and these act as tickets to some of the more challenging new foods for your family. Kids like to know that the food they are eating is familiar and safe, and it gives them the security to be more adventurous at the table and try something new.

Some key tips in the book:

1. Identify three to six Gateway Foods for your family. These are your culinary keystones. Mine include but are not limited to: cauliflower, broccoli, apples, blueberries, avocado and corn.

2. Aim to prepare your Gateway Food along with a new food. The example for us: avocado and grapefruit salad (food idea to come this week) or roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts.

3. If your kids resist combining the foods, start by serving them side by side. Taste the Gateway Food, then encourage a small taster of the new food. They could put a small amount on their tongue and if they don't want to swallow it, let them know it's okay to spit it out. Praise them for trying and keep up with exposing the foods frequently at the table. Once you see them warming up to it, gradually move towards mixing... It is naturally common at a young age to keep things separate but most grow out of it with time. Use the ingredient in their favourite dips, in a DIY meal, serve a small amount in their favourite dishes and you set the example by trying something new, but it's always better and fun trying together!

Another ticket to new foods is favourite and familiar seasoning and flavours. I've always known the pickiest of eaters to enjoy a sweet and sour profile, and so do my kids. But one that is hands-down our superstar flavouring is toasted sesame oil! They would take the bottle out of my hand and fight to be the one holding it to take long whiffs of the glorious nutty fragrance, and with gusto, eat it as a dip for grilled meats or as an accent in Asian noodle soups.  And this will be my gateway to get them to eat leafy green kale. Kale is a high-profile top-notch powerhouse in nutrition- a great source of Vitamins K, C and A and packed with antioxidants! They love kale no problem oven-baked with olive oil and salt into crispy crumbly roasted seaweed-like chips, but in it's natural leafy self is another story. So I'm going to experiment, stir-frying it simply with their beloved sesame oil and other familiar seasonings.

Toasted Sesame Kale Stir-Fry
Makes 4 servings

6 large kale leaves, hard stems removed and coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Heat 2 Tbsp. sesame oil in a skillet/wok on medium heat. Stir-fry the kale for two minutes until wilted. Push the leaves to a side and add remaining 1 Tbsp. sesame oil and sauté garlic. Stir in the rice vinegar, soy sauce and sugar and continue to toss another minute. Cover for another minute, remove onto serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Nutty in aroma, tangy and slightly sweet, this was a winner at dinner!

Yummy! Kale was the first thing the kids put in their rice bowl and plenty of it too! Hurray mes gars!

What are your kids gateway foods and flavours? Let these pave the culinary path to your family's new food discoveries and dinner. It's a step in the right direction...

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