I started to write this post as a helpful guide for parents on feeding their kids…
(A couple of parents shared this ‘hack’ in my private meal planning FB group)
Then realized this applies to adults too!!
If you are uncomfortable with “new” foods or ingredients...
If you lack motivated to try new things…
If the “unknown” or “unfamiliar” makes you doubtful...
If some cuisines or ingredients are foreign to you…
If you self-describe as a “picky” adult…
If you are feeding a nervous eater…
If you are trying to expand your kids’ horizons…
If you want to do less work and have more FREEDOM…
I have a great hack to share with you!
Deconstruction…for Form and for Function
New meals, foods, cuisines, and flavors can be overwhelming.
If that happens to you, that’s okay.
There is comfort in the familiar. Some of us approach new experiences with gusto and curiosity while others are doubtful and resistant to change.
(I’m in the latter group and I went on to write 5 vegan cookbooks, one of which is all international foods, so there is HOPE FOR YOU).
Before I went vegan, I had an extremely limited menu of foods I ate. Trying or buying anything new scared me.
I wouldn’t order anything but chicken fingers or pizza at any restaurant I was that scared of not liking what I ordered. I can also remember being near tears at the Cheesecake Factory because NOTHING appealed to me -- and my husband had taken me there because the menu was so large. He thought I’d finally have a “good” dining experience. I think I ate a salad. Anyway!
I totally TOTALLY get it.
I was worried I would “waste” the money buying a new 'foreign' ingredient or trying something new on a menu at a restaurant.
I was also worried I would “waste” my time preparing a meal I didn’t want to eat.
Yet I was also so tired of eating the same 10 things.
I also WANTED to eat healthier and knew my go-to’s weren’t the best or most balanced and varied.
I’ll be honest:
YOU WILL NOT LIKE SOME THINGS. That is okay.
YOU WILL WASTE MONEY SOMETIMES. That is okay.
Having a good attitude and THINKING you’ll like it is the best first step.
I CAN promise you that there will be things you LOVE so much that you will be thinking, “Dang, I’ve been missing OUT!”
There will also be foods you grow to like over time.
Deconstructing meals is a great way to “baby step”
By deconstructing a meal, new flavors can be introduced in a “safer” manner to a nervous eater.
For some folks, even one new flavor in an incorporated sauce can kill an entire dish.
For example, Aubrey shared in our meal planning group,
“My kids get really weird about everything (being) mixed up. If they don’t like the sauce they won’t eat any of it. It’s easier to let them dip each thing in their sauce if they choose.”
DECONSTRUCTING = breaking a meal down into its basic parts.
For example, Dana B., shared in the group how she deconstructed the Winter Panzanella for her littles.
She also showed how flexible recipes are (recipes are just suggestions!) by subbing out the Brussels sprouts and adding vegetables her kids liked best.
Bring them into the conversation
When Scott was reluctant to try any of the vegan meals I made early on, I asked what he would be open to trying (instead of guessing… I’m not a mind reader!)
The parents in our private group swear by this too.
Bring your partner/kids into the process.
Let them see the meals you are making and allow them to offer suggestions on how they would like to eat them.
“My kids often turn their nose up at mixed dishes. They are fully aware they are eating the exact same thing (as am I - they are getting the same nutrients). Sanitysaver. I want them to feel in control of their food choices - no force-feeding, no "you have to eat x (# of) bites".
Whenever I need to feed my nieces and nephews, I try to be fun and make mealtime a positive experience, and provide healthy options.
For example, I might ask, “Do you want pancakes or cereal?” or “Do you want a bean burrito or soup?”
I do this with myself and my husband too.
It’s one reason why I like preparing 3-4 meals at once: I have options at mealtime.
Another parent, Sarah M., also shared how she ‘deconstructed’ the Loaded Reuben Nachos (in the Meal Mentor App) for her 4 and 7-year-olds.
“I had them pick either the mushrooms or the lentils. After cleaning their plates, her daughter even asked for EXTRA sauerkraut! WOW, right?”
How cool is that?
Even more eclectic flavors can be kid-friendly when you break it down!
Kristyn B. took a similar approach making “two versions” of the Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato.
“Thai stuffed sweet potato for me and deconstructed sweet potato wrap for the toddler! As he says.... ‘Mmmmmmdatgood, Mommy”.
THIS NEXT PART IS MORE FOR ADULTS THAN KIDS
Aversions to foods being combined can exist all through adulthood. We tend to associate this with kids, but I’m one of many adults that doesn’t like my food to touch.
OR sometimes your aversion is in the presentation. Cristina didn’t want her food mixed up together and instead served the Good Greens and Gravy like a “cobb salad”
If you’re like me and you don’t want your foods to touch, a plate like this can be super helpful. (That’s the Macro Bowl).
Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!