Any parent wishes to nourish his or her children with healthy foods. While cultured foods are often at the top of that “must eat” list, it can be difficult to convince our little ones to eat sour or tangy fermented foods. Indeed, most children would turn their noses up at sauerkraut or plain kefir.
Consider these tips for getting your children to enjoy cultured foods.
1. Start Early
If children are exposed to them from an early age, fermented foods and tangy flavors are familiar and preferred. Instead of having a palate that is one-dimensional, a child will be able to appreciate and enjoy tangy sauerkraut, tart plain yogurt, and bubbly kombucha.
2. Start Small
Adding too much too fast can make a change in diet a failure. Start small, with homemade yogurt instead of sweetened store bought, or flavored water kefir soda. Offer small amounts as a snack, and enjoy small amounts yourself. Add a spoonful of fermented vegetables to each meal as a condiment. As the flavors become more familiar, you and your family will enjoy more and more cultured foods for meals or snacks.
3. Moderate Sweets
While some cultured foods can be sweet, like kombucha, water kefir, or sourdough desserts, all fermented foods have at least some degree of sour flavor as well. Introducing various food flavors and keeping sweet foods to a minimum allows a child to learn to enjoy other flavors, in addition to sweet.
4. Be Their Cultured Role Model
Show willingness to taste new foods. Plan a family taste-testing event each week. Avoid making faces when trying a new food. As your children watch you enjoying new and different foods, they will be tempted to taste and enjoy along with you.
5. Offer Choices
Older children especially will appreciate being able to choose. Let children choose vegetables to ferment, along with different spice combinations. Allow kids to pick different flavorings for water kefir soda. Remember that the child's favorite does not have to be your favorite, as long as you are both enjoying fermented foods regularly.
Child-Friendly Cultured Foods
This list provides a good place to start:
- Water Kefir is bubbly, slightly sweet, and full of minerals and probiotics. Make various flavors from cream soda to orange soda, to replace commercial sodas.
- Sourdough Desserts can help ease the transition to cultured foods. Most sweets are way too sweet. Cut back on the sweeteners and opt for a sourdough recipe, such as Sourdough Fruit Cobbler.
- Lacto-Fermented Pickles are a very simple swap your child may not even notice. Put them on a burger or sandwich.
- Lacto-Fermented Carrot Sticks are a very child-friendly fermented vegetable and are one of the easiest ferments to make. They make great dippers.
- Cultured Dips and Spreads are a favorite with nearly everyone. Why not make a cultured version, substituting cultured dairy for commercial sour cream, cream cheese, or mayo. Non-dairy dips such as guacamole can be fermented, too.
- Cultured Smoothies can be made easily by combining milk kefir, frozen fruit, and yummy add-ins like cocoa powder, vanilla extract, or nut butter.
If these cultured foods don’t get them hooked right away, give them time and keep encouraging them, by example, to dive into cultured foods head first.