How to make your picky child enjoy African foods
Why won't my child eat African foods? Why does my child prefer junk to healthy African foods? How can I make my child enjoy African foods? These and many more are concerns of so many African mothers home and abroad and I can understand. As a mother, you know how hard it can be to deal with a picky eater. You want your child to enjoy a variety of healthy and delicious foods, but they seem to have a mind of their own. Don't worry, you're not alone. Many mothers around the world face the same challenge, no matter what culture or generation they belong to. The good news is that pickiness is a normal phase that most children go through, and you can help them overcome it. This is what we are considering in the blog today; let's get going!
Why should your child love African foods?
African foods are more than just tasty. They are also a way of connecting with your heritage and celebrating your culture. African foods are rich in nutrients that your child needs for their growth and development. They offer a variety of flavors, textures, and colors that can stimulate your child's senses and curiosity. By helping your child love these traditional dishes, you are also passing on a valuable legacy that will last for generations.
Some foods may seem less appealing to your child at first, but they have amazing benefits that you should know about. For example, bitter leaf is a vegetable that can help your child fight infections and improve their digestion. Sorghum is a grain that can boost your child's energy and immunity. These foods may not be your child's favorites, but they are important for him.
Tips and tricks for making your child love African Foods
Start from a young age:
The earlier you expose your child to different foods, the more likely they are to accept them as they grow older. Try to offer your child a variety of African foods from the start, and don't give up if they reject them at first.
Be creative with presentation:
Children eat with their eyes first, so make sure your meals look appealing and fun. Use bright colors and interesting shapes to catch their attention. You can also use cookie cutters, molds, or skewers to make your dishes more playful.
Add to familiar dishes:
A sneaky way to get your child to eat more nutritious foods is to mix them with foods they already like. For instance, you can blend spinach into a pasta sauce or mix grated vegetables into meatballs. Your child may not even notice the difference, and they will get more vitamins and minerals.
Don't overwhelm your child with too many new foods at once. Start with small portions and increase them gradually. You can also mix new foods with familiar ones, or serve them with dips or sauces that your child likes.
Explain the importance:
Children are more likely to try new foods if they understand why they are good for them. Talk to your child about the health benefits of each dish, and how they can help them grow stronger and smarter. Make them feel involved and interested in their nutrition.
Change cooking methods:
Sometimes, the way you cook a food can make a big difference in how your child likes it. Experiment with different cooking techniques, such as boiling, baking, frying, or roasting, to change the texture and flavor of foods. You may find that your child prefers one method over another, or that they like a variety of options.
Also Read: 5 REASONS STEAMED FOODS ARE THE HEALTHIEST
Be a role model:
Children learn by watching their parents, so show them that you enjoy eating African foods. Express your enthusiasm and positive attitude towards these dishes and praise your child when they try them. Avoid making negative comments or faces, as this can discourage your child from eating.
Be in charge:
While it's important to be flexible and respectful of your child's preferences, don't let them dictate the menu. You are the one who decides what to serve, and your child should learn to eat what is offered. Don't give in to their demands for alternatives too quickly, as this can reinforce their pickiness. Instead, encourage them to try at least a bite of everything, and remind them that they can always have more of what they like later.
Remember that developing a taste for new foods takes time and repetition. Don't expect your child to love everything right away, or to eat everything on their plate. Keep offering new foods regularly, and don't give up if they refuse them at first. Eventually, your child will get used to them and may even start to like them.
Eating should be a focused and enjoyable activity, not a background noise. Reduce distractions like electronic devices, toys, or TV during mealtime, and make sure your child sits at the table with the rest of the family. This will help your child pay attention to their food and their hunger cues, and also foster social skills and bonding.
Sweets are tempting, but they can also dull your child's taste buds and make them crave more sugar. Reducing sugary snacks can help your child appreciate the more complex and subtle flavors present in African cuisine. You can still offer your child occasional treats, but make sure they are balanced with healthy foods and eaten in moderation.
Eating with others can make trying new foods more fun and less intimidating. Encourage your child to eat with their friends, especially if they have similar or different food preferences. Your child may be more willing to try new foods if they see their peers eating them, or if they want to share their own foods with them. Eating with friends can also create positive associations and memories with food.Also Read: CANILLA PARBOILED RICE: YOUR SECRET INGREDIENT FOR PERFECT WEST AFRICAN RICE DISHES
Tips for Enhancing Food Textures for Picky Children
Blending fruits in smoothies:
Fruits are a great source of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, but some children may not like certain fruits because of their texture or taste. A good way to get your child to eat more fruits is to blend them into smoothies, creating a delicious and nutritious drink. You can mix less favored fruits with favorites, or add yogurt, milk, or juice to make the smoothie creamier and sweeter.
Enhancing pap and oatmeal:
Pap and oatmeal are traditional dishes that can provide your child with carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. However, some children may find them bland or boring. You can elevate these dishes by adding healthy sweeteners like honey or maple syrup and incorporating milk for a creamier texture. You can also add fruits, nuts, seeds, or spices to make them more flavorful and interesting.
Incorporating eggs into moinmoin:
Moinmoin is a dish made from steamed bean paste, which can provide your child with protein, iron, and calcium. However, some children may not like the texture or flavor of beans. A way to boost the protein content and the appeal of this dish is to add boiled egg pieces, transforming it into a more familiar and enticing form. You can also add other ingredients like fish, meat, or vegetables to make it more varied and nutritious.
Adding fish to Ewedu:
Ewedu is a soup made from jute leaves, which can help your child with digestion, immunity, and skin health. However, some children may not like the slimy texture or the green color of this soup. A way to introduce the rich flavors and omega-3 benefits of fish to this soup is to add pieces of smoked or dried fish, enhancing the taste and the aroma. You can also add other ingredients like meat, crayfish, or locust beans to make it more savory and satisfying.
Grinding locust beans:
Locust beans are a type of fermented seeds that can add a unique flavor and aroma to soups and stews. They can also provide your child with protein, fiber, and calcium. However, some children may not like the texture or the smell of locust beans. A way to mitigate any texture-related aversions is to finely grind locust beans before adding them to soups and stews, allowing your child to savor the flavor without hesitation. You can also reduce the amount of locust beans you use, or mix them with other seasonings to make them more subtle.
How to Make Specific African Foods More Appealing for Picky Eaters
1. Jollof Rice:
- Tip: Add some crunch and color to the rice by tossing in some chopped carrots and peas. You can also use cookie cutters or molds to shape the rice into fun forms.
2. Fufu and Soup:
- Tip: Explore different types of soups with varying colors and textures. Make fufu more fun by letting your kids dip it into the soup themselves.
- Tip: Spice up the batter with some minced onions and bell peppers for extra flavor and color. Serve with a delicious dip to make it more tempting.
4. Okra Soup:
- Tip: Add some seafood like shrimp or crayfish for a boost of protein and flavor. Make sure the okra is finely chopped or pureed to reduce its sliminess.
- Tip: Rub the meat with tasty spices and pair it with some grilled vegetables for a colorful and flavorful dish. This also adds more vitamins and minerals to the meal.
6. Moi Moi:
- Tip: Mix in some chopped vegetables, and for a twist, add some bits of chicken or fish for more protein and texture.
7. Grilled Kebabs
- Tip: Make the skewers more attractive by alternating between colorful vegetables and meats. Serve with a yummy sauce for dipping.
8. Efo Riro (Vegetable Stew):
- Tip: Use a variety of vegetables like spinach, kale, and tomatoes for a rainbow of colors and nutrients. Try different spices to bring out the flavor of the stew.
9. Plantain Chips:
- Tip: Make a mix of sweet and savory plantain chips by sprinkling some with cinnamon or chili powder. Serve with a creamy yogurt-based dip for contrast.
- Tip: Add some variety to the main dish by serving it with fried fish, gari foto (grated cassava), and shito (spicy black pepper sauce) for different flavors and textures.
African foods are amazing! They have so many different dishes and flavors that can make your children's taste buds happy and curious. You can show them how awesome African foods are by making some of these dishes with them and adding your own twist to make them even more yummy. It will be a great adventure for you and your children to explore and enjoy the wonderful world of African cuisine. And who knows, maybe they will fall in love with them along the way! If you are looking for the best african market where you can get the best and fresh african food ingredients for your kid, try My Sasun African Market today!