It seems fitting that, as March draws to a close, we start dreaming of warmer weather here in the Northeast. Heaven knows we’ve earned it, as have those lucky souls in just about every region of the world feeling the effects of the 2014 polar vortex and this season’s uncharacteristically cold and snowy winter.
There are a couple of things that come to mind when I think about spring. Our garden, for instance, which will soon be covered, as it is each year, in a tangle of unruly mint and whatever other veggies we threaten to introduce to that jungle. I’ll also be happy to banish our winter coats to the furthest most reaches of the hall closet. I’m just about done having battles about who is going to wear theirs, how “bunchy” coats are when sitting in a car seat, and whether whatever temperature we wake up to is “warm enough” for just a jacket.
Let’s face it. Most children do not arrive in this world universally loving their veggies. Getting there can be a slow process. And for some kids (and some veggies), the process is longer than for others.
With all its natural sugar it’s not hard to warm up to the carrot. Corn, too, is an easy sell. But on the other side of the spectrum lurk broccoli, Brussels sprouts and spinach. Dark green vegetables contain higher amounts of certain natural compounds which many kids just don’t care for. The bitter taste in cruciferous veggies like broccoli and kale come from what are know as glucosinolate compounds, and raw spinach contains carotenoids to which many people — although at times it seems those people fall disproportionately in the 0- to 10-year-old age group — react strongly. Indeed, scientists have identified genes that predispose certain individuals to be “supertasters” with highly-refined palates that distinguish and amplify certain flavors. (If you’re interested in learning more about this phenomena, read People Who Taste To Much by Sumathi Reddy, published in the Wall Street Journal in March, 2013.)
Supertaster or not, your child may occasionally approach their leafy greens with more aggression than anticipation. Why not harness that energy with a little invitation to, quite literally, pound their vegetables.