Most children are familiar with rice, pasta and oatmeal, all basic foods that store well. However, introducing beans, lentils, whole wheat and other whole grains into the family diet can be a challenge, especially if you have picky eaters.
Here are some ideas that can help:
Parents who begin introducing beans, lentils and whole wheat bread and other whole grain foods as a natural part of an everyday diet when children are young, can avoid a hassle later.
As children get a little older, introducing new foods can become a little more interesting.
The 'polite-bite' rule
Some families ask children to take a "polite bite or two" of new foods. It's a family rule. If children do not want to eat any more, it is not a big deal. They can get themselves something else. One family had children get their own plain breakfast cereal — it wasn't sweetened and it wasn't completely blah so it wasn't a reward or a punishment. In another family, children made their own peanut butter sandwiches. Then parents waited, knowing that after six or seven times of trying a new food, children develop a taste for it. Patience brought success. One mother told me her family of seven learned to enjoy lentils this way.
Of course, the "polite bite" rule requires some firmness, the same as teaching children to clean their rooms or do their chores. Once this rule is established, patiently waiting is the key.
Teach the facts to older children
One mother decided to include healthy stored foods in family meals when her children were teenagers. She simply explained that we have only one body and we have to make it last the distance. She talked about the serious health concerns we face today and explained that beans, lentils, split peas, whole wheat and other whole grains are the very foods experts say we should eat regularly to avoid health concerns. She looked for good recipes and, at first, served them once a week. Today her family enjoys eating a wide range of healthy foods from food storage.
Families sometimes are concerned about gas from eating legumes. The simple solution is simply to eat beans regularly. Over a little time, the body increases its capacity to digest the simple carbohydrates in these foods and this concern is largely eliminated.
Store hard white wheat
Some families have found that storing hard white wheat, which makes lighter colored baked foods, has helped children make the switch to eating foods made with wheat. My children as teenagers even made 100-percent whole-wheat cookies for friends and no one knew the difference!
Starting with whole-wheat cookies is a great way to introduce whole wheat to children. We are used to foods made with fine flour. Some home grain mills produce medium fine whole-wheat flour, giving baked foods a grainy texture, which can be unpalatable to some children. Fine whole wheat flour from an electric mill, or a hand grinder with stone burrs produces great results.
Children who learn to enjoy basic foods will enjoy better health, reduce their risk of gaining weight, and in social settings will be happy to eat the wide variety of foods they may be served. Parents give an invaluable gift for a lifetime when they teach their children enjoy basic foods.
Here are three recipes to try:
SALSA BEAN AND LENTIL RICE
(For milder version, reduce chili powder.)
2¼ cup water
2 tablespoons dried onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons beef bouillon
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