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“weird” foods, fun in the kitchen with picky eaters

Posted by on Sep 6, 2011 in Blog Posts | 12 comments

I was at our local coop recently and saw “ground cherries.” I had never heard of them, they were $3.99 for the bunch, locally grown. When in doubt, find the produce person. We chatted about how to eat them, flavor etc, and I brought some home. Similarly, when I saw a gorgeous purple cauliflower a few weeks ago, after a brief consult with the produce gal I was good to go.

Purple cauliflower: similar in flavor to regular. Told the color will fade when cooked, so we had it with Ranch and had apricots and crackers too. It was OK. A novelty, but not something I would rush out again to buy. (Here is an old post about a romanesque cauliflower experiment.)

Ground cherries: They were fun to peel. A little dusty inside so we rinsed them. They are sweet and fleshy, almost like a rose-hip, or a sweet tomato without the seeds. It reminds me of a  fruity flavor I can’t pin down, something I have a vague memory of. If anyone can help me out, I would appreciate it!

So, a few tips for picky eaters…

Take them shopping with you. Look at all the cool and unusual foods (you could also do this at an Asian, or ethnic market, or the farmer’s market.) Let them see you asking a grocer and showing your curiosity. (Be careful not to oversell any foods, kids will perceive this as pressure.) If you find a novel food, be sure to serve it with a familiar food or two so that your child won’t feel pressured to try it, and can know that they will have something they can eat. Play with colors, you can draw or sketch food, or try to match with a crayon in your crayon box. (Again, only if this is fun, and your child is going along. If you get resistance, back off…) Serve it in a familiar way, i.e, we served the purple cauliflower with Ranch dip. Peeling or prep can be fun, and kids will often try something they helped prep. The peeling of the ground cherries was fun for us all! Having an idea of how it will taste (I asked the grocer who gave me some context) is helpful. Remember to always allow children (and adults!) to spit the food out if they don’t like it. (Children are more likely to put something in their mouths if they know they don’t have to swallow it.)  Don’t pressure them to try it. Watching you try it, handling it, seeing a new food are all part of the process of learning to like a new food. Maybe bring a few out every day at a meal or snack for a few days, or until they run out! Remember, that attitude about food, and the atmosphere at the table are step one to learning to like new foods. Have fun, experiment, and see how it goes! (One word, I don’t do this with really expensive items necessarily. Also, grocers will often let you taste a sample if you want to try before you buy. Can’t hurt to ask!)

Have you found any new foods recently?

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  1. crazymom

    In Germany ground cherries are called “Blasenkirschen”. I only knew them from cocktails. It’s interesting to cook with this kind of fruit. I’ve never done that before. 🙂

    • katja

      They would look pretty floating in champagne! I suppose you could cook with them, would be fun to cook them down, maybe with shallots and a splash of vinegar? Who knows! Anyone cooked with them before?

  2. AcceptanceWoman

    As a teen, I tried gooseberries for the first time when I was in England. I would love to grow them here (in the Pacific NW).

    • katja

      I love gooseberries too! I also tried them as a child in England. Have you seen them in the US?

      • Camilla

        Many states mistakenly banned growing gooseberry and currant bushes due to the ribes being an alternate host for pine rust. That’s been debunked (well, almost everything is an alternate host, so there’s no point in banning ribes), and in most areas the bans have been lifted or are unenforced. (The relevance is that they’ve fallen out of cultural awareness.)

        I’ve got friends (I’m in MA) who have good success at growing them, but it’s choppy (by municipality) which nurseries can legally sell stock. The bushes are generally low and thorny, but are cold hardy and will fruit abundantly.

      • Camilla

        My dearest wish food-wise is to be able to buy bags of mechanically pitted sour cherries in the grocery store freezer.
        (I can get sour (pie) cherries sometimes in season at great expense, in tiny quantities.)

  3. The Bald Soprano

    Ground cherries are relatives of tomatillos, maybe that’s what they remind you of? tomatillos are used in a lot of salsa, IIRC.

    • katja

      it’s a weird memory. i think it’s a candy, or other mixed food item. The finish on it is reminding me of a food memory that I cannot place!

  4. Helen Musselman

    Ground cherries look like they’re what we call “Cape gooseberries”. They used to grow in my grandmother’s garden in Johannesburg and whenever I eat one – picked off the bush and unwrapped from its little paper parcel – I remember eating them as a child. I love them to snack on but my husband finds them too tart.

  5. unscrambled

    I find groundcherries a weird mix of kiwi + tomato + strawberry. And by weird, I mean delicious. If you grow food, they grow really easy and are fun for short people to pick!

  6. erylin

    we recently tried fennel. the kids thought it was pretty with feathery tops. we roasted the bottom park and used some of the soft frilly tops as a garnish in a soup. they thought it was good, and they thought it tasted like celery but with a slight sweet spice