April 23, 2015

Branching Out Our Taste Buds

One day back in late February, I was out grocery shopping with the girls and bemoaning the fact our local Aldi had once again run out of gluten free bread. A woman overheard us talking and told us about a new store getting ready to open just up the road called Sprouts purportedly like a lower cost Earth Fare or Whole Foods. Of course I had to go home and look it up.

Inside Sprouts from their website. Not a sponsored post, just an excited mama.

A few weeks later this new Sprouts Market opened. We weren't there at the opening itself, but it didn't take us long to go check it out.

The girls absolutely love it! There are aisles upon aisles of new fruits and vegetables to try, meats you don't normally find in the grocery store, and all sorts of gluten free options. They've been enjoying the variety of dried fruits and fresh vegetables in particular, and they take turns requesting new ones to try. So far a mix of three different kinds of grape tomatoes, a pack of four different kinds of carrots in four different colors, and dried figs are favorites.

I grew up in a family that ate pretty much the same staples over and over ad nauseam. Even though I've been making a conscious effort to broaden my palate, and the girls' by extension, the range of produce we eat on a regular basis is still minuscule in comparison to what is available. So, we've begun branching out our taste buds with this new resource a fraction of a mile from our usual grocery store.

This week's request, placed by our eldest, was a bunch of radishes. The things certainly are pretty with their brilliant red roots and bright greens. I've only ever heard that they have a bite to them, so I didn't think either girl would care for them even before they were in our basket.

When we returned home, I set about preparing the vegetables for  easy use since we're always more likely to use them up that way. I was surprised by the smell of roses when I took the little bundle of radishes out of the bag. Given their reputation for heat, I'd expected a sharper, acrid smell. I washed, sliced, and bagged them the same as I do for a lot of our vegetables.

The girls ate a few slices of them raw along with their lunch. The youngest loved them. They were a bit too sharp for the eldest, so I decided to see if I could find different ways of preparing them. I found a woman who blogged about not liking the sting of raw radishes, so she tried sautéing them with a bit of butter, salt, and pepper. That sounded good, so I sliced up a few of the carrots we'd bought and decided to make a "root salad" with them and the radishes to accompany our fish and asparagus for dinner.

Baked fish with roasted asparagus and a salad made of root vegetables
Baked fish, root salad, and roasted asparagus make for a tasty and filling dinner.

It turned out really well. The carrots were sweet and buttery, and they balanced the earthiness of the radishes. The whole dish was a lovely rainbow of jewel tones with the white radishes ringed with red, the deep burgundy, royal purple, bright orange, and translucent yellow of the multicolored carrots. I'm sure I'm not quite done playing around with this particular side dish, but for a first go, I was happy. Hubby, Boo, and I all enjoyed it. Sneak almost always enjoys vegetables most when raw, so I gave her some radish slices, carrot sticks, and a couple of ribs of celery since the asparagus was exceedingly tough raw.

This is the largest part of how we're trying to expand our family's openness to new foods. We take the girls to the store or farmer's markets nearby and let them see and ask about all the different, sometimes unusual, fruits and vegetables. They take turns picking out new ones to try, and the ones we really enjoy, we look at planting in our garden if they can work with the local climate. Purchasing groceries might take a little longer that way, but it's made them a lot more open to tasting new items than they were when staying home with one of us while the other went shopping.

How do you get your family to try new things?

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