I mean, I get the three-year-old who only eats beige food and the occasional peanut butter-smothered carrot stick. I had one of those. If it wasn’t a chicken nugget, a french fry, applesauce or popcorn, she wasn’t eating it. But we put an end to those shenanigans around age five; by then, if she wasn’t eating some version of the same meal the rest of the family was eating, she wasn’t eating. By age six, she was subjected to the same rule as every other kid in the house: You have to try it at least three times in three different meals before you decide you don’t like it. (Almost always by the third try, they’re total fans, trust.) And even if you don’t like it, oh well, then you don’t eat. I’m not hiding vegetables in your sauce to get you to the magical number of daily servings; I’m not cooking something separate from what everyone else is eating; and sitting at my table without eating your veggies, protein, and healthy starches is not an option.
I’m a foodie, see? I appreciate that the world is full of beautiful food and incredible flavors and delicious aromas and eclectic textures, and I happen to think my kids should be blessed with that knowledge, too. My kids Mari, Lila, and Mazi are on their way, for sure: They eat sushi and okra and Jamaican ackee and codfish—ox tails and brussel sprouts and all kinds of fish drizzled with fancy sauces. The little ones are enrolled every summer in our local Young Chef’s Academy so that they can learn their way around the kitchen and try out some new recipes and pick up a few more stove skills, and together, we catalogue our recipes in our Home Made Love Family Recipe Book so that they can document their favorites and keep them for meals they’ll make with their own families someday.
Turning down a dish because they don’t like the way it looks or smells never occurs to my kids; if it’s food, they’re going to try it and most likely like it and want to add it to the repertoire (if you can cook, of course). Suffice to say, they’re not going to be the kids who go to another country and bypass the world’s best cuisines for a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and a large fry. Ain’t happening.
Alas, I know, too, that my kids are a bit unusual; our country is full of children who run completely amok come dinnertime, swearing before Sweet Baby Jesus and 100 sacks of potatoes that no matter how long their mama was standing over the hot stove, they will turn away any and all food that even remotely looks, smells or tastes like it grew from the Earth or a tree. If you’ve got one of those kids on your hands, my guy Curtis Stone has a chili recipe for you that tastes delish (I totally tried it and the fam loved it!) and is full of delicious, healthy veggies, vitamins and nutrients—nutritional goodies your kid will never suspect is actually good for them.
Click here to check out Curtis’s step-by-step video for how to make this delicious chili recipe on the Vick’s Nature Fusion YouTube channel. There’s a link on the video page for the recipe. Happy—and healthy!—eating!
So you know: I recently partnered with Vicks Nature Fusion to write about ways I keep my family healthy, happy and eating right. Yes, I’m getting a check for this. No, they’re not paying me to say nice things about their products. As always, my experiences and opinions are my own.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.