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purple potatoes and talking tips

Posted by on Oct 4, 2012 in Blog Posts |

We made purple mashed potatoes the other night. We didn’t know they’d turn out purple. We had fun, a kind of culinary experiment. As I was chatting with M, it had me thinking about how much I love being in the kitchen with her, and how much fun it is to be curious. It seems in stark contrast with most “nutrition education” or the ways we talk about food as a culture. These purple potatoes provide an interesting study…

We had cooked purple beans recently, and were surprised to learn that when they were cooked, they lost the purple color and turned green…Perhaps you buy a purple food, maybe something unusual, like a purple potato. Maybe your child helps you peel them or cut them up (maybe not, M passed this time, but did peak in the pot often.)

Dinnertime theater, scene #4, purple potato play

Standard nutrition education approach might look like this:

Mom: “Purple foods are really good for you. They have anti-oxidants that keep you from getting cancer. Can you name another purple vegetable or fruit? If you try two bites at dinner you can have dessert. It’s so important to eat a rainbow every day.”

Consider a different approach to talking about food with young children:

Mom: Do you think these will lose the purple too when we cook them?

M: I don’t know.

Me: I was surprised when the purple beans turned green, were you?

M: Yea, that was weird, they tasted the same too.

Me: Will you throw some salt into the pot? Two big pinches? I wonder if they will lose the purple or if they will taste the same.

Off she went to play Legos.

As we mashed them up with some butter and evaporated milk and salt, I said, “They stayed purple, cool! (M nods and mashes and remarks on the color…) There aren’t lots of purple foods. Can you think of any others?”


Me: “Yup, we saw some purple grapes.” Then she was off again.

If she had said, “Laffy Taffy,” I would have said, “Yup, grape flavor is purple,” maybe added eggplant, or smoothies with strawberries and blueberries… The point is, that it was fun, part of our usual meal-time routine.

When she put them on the plate, she then covered them in ketchup (I will spare you that photo…) and we all thought they were a little more pasty than our usual mashed potatoes, then Dad wondered if we added more evaporated milk if they would taste just like the others… (That night we had green beans and risoles, an English type of meatloaf patty. Yummo!)

What do you think? Thought it would be fun to share some ways of enjoying the wonder of food, without turning it into a “should” lecture about health and nutrition. I know that for many young children sensitive to pressure, all the nutrition talk is a turn-off and makes fruits and veggies less appealing.


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