I was a picky eater as a kid. Like most children, I had my list of foods that were not getting anywhere near my lips, foods I swore I hated even though I hadn’t even tried some of them. My mother tried the “you’re not moving until that liver is gone” technique once but I outwaited her so she never tried that again (thank goodness). Instead, she spoiled me by making separate dishes for me that suited my preferences. It’s funny how there are so many foods I hated as a kid that I love now and vice versa – as a child, I liked sweets and now I don’t want them anywhere near me. Some likes remain the same such as my cravings for savory, salty, crunchy and meaty foods. But many of the foods I would have sworn I hated now reside on my favorites list instead. Taste buds do change as we get older but our willingness to try new things helps too. Once I became vegan and so many of my usual foods were off the menu, I had to learn to try new foods. I even made rules for myself to help me experiment with new tastes. See 5 Rules to Start Enjoying New and Unfamiliar Foods. Now I have trouble thinking of more than 3 foods I don’t like. Of course, everyone’s list will be different but here are 10 dishes you probably hated as a kid that you can learn to love now.
1. Lentil Soup
As a child, I refused to eat lentils. My mother would make lentil soup and I wouldn’t touch it. It was brown – that was all the reason I needed. As I got older, I found that I liked the lentil soup they made at my mother’s job. It was red because they added tomatoes. She would get upset that I liked theirs but wouldn’t eat hers. Mom sometimes made a lentil loaf which I wouldn’t eat either. I couldn’t even have told you what a lentil was but I sure wasn’t eating it. Now as an adult, I love lentils. I use them all the time to make lots of dishes including lentil loaves, meatballs and soup. I still like my soup better red than brown though. To make my Lentil Veggie Soup: I saute diced onion, carrot, celery, zucchini and garlic in a spoon of oil until they are tender. Add 2 cups of lentils, 6 cups of broth or water and 1 ½ cups of diced tomatoes. I add my favorite seasonings of thyme, cumin, basil, parsley, bay leaves, salt and black pepper. In 45 minutes I have a rich and hearty lentil veggie soup. Other lentil soups to try include this Hearty Two-Lentil Soup with Mushrooms and this Curried Lentil Soup. For more lentil recipes, see Lentils Are More Than Just for Soup- Here’s How to Use Them Best!
Tomatoes were not allowed on my plate. I found them slimy and tart. Many kids don’t like tomatoes unless they are really sweet or turned into something more appetizing like ketchup. Even as an adult, I picked the tomatoes off my salad. Now, I love tomatoes and eat them every single day. Tomatoes are highly versatile and can be made into sauces, soups, entrees and even dessert. If you think you don’t like tomatoes, try roasting them until they are bursting with sweetness. Pair them with herbs and spices you love such as garlic, basil and cumin. Then try any of these amazing tomato dishes: Quinoa, Mushroom and Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes, Vegan and Gluten-Free Tomato and Garlic Focaccia, Potato Dumplings in Spiced Tomato Sauce, Heirloom Tomato Pesto Stack, Rosemary, Olive and Tomato Muffins, and Vegan Cream Cheese Filled Tomatoes With Spices and Green Onions.
Did you like salad as a kid? Even if it wasn’t covered in a bottle’s worth of creamy dressing? Lots of kids don’t like salad. Think about it – it’s giving kids something they already don’t like – vegetables – and then piling them up and not even cooking them! In my family, every single dinner included salad. What drew me in were the black olives I liked to stick on my fingers in order to eat them. Many adults still don’t like salad. If you find a plate of lettuce boring, make your salads more exciting. Try making them with different types of greens like this Freekeh Kale Salad or don’t use lettuce at all as in this Broccoli Salad with Quinoa, Scallions and Roasted Cashews. Add fruit for color and sweetness or add chopped nuts for crunch. Make sure your salads have a variety of textures in every bite like this Cinnamon Spiced Apple and Grape Salad and this Rainbow Salad. Try different types of dressings and you may be surprised how they can change the whole dish. Add grains to make the salad more satisfying or add protein with tofu, seitan or legumes. Try this Grilled Tofu Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons, Gingery Maple Glazed Tempeh on Baby Greens Salad, Protein-Packed Vegan Salad, with Quinoa, Chickpeas, Lime and Cilantro or a Vegan BLT Salad to change your mind about skipping the salad.
For kids, cereal means the sugar-coated stuff that comes in the cartoon-covered box with a toy surprise inside. It’s supposed to be cold and crunchy. If kids like oatmeal at all, it’s most likely the packaged instant kind that is so full of sugar, it takes away the healthy benefits it might have had. I was never an oatmeal fan but now I like it when I add lots of flavor from spices, fruits, nuts and even vegetables like pumpkin. In my Pumpkin Oatmeal with Hazelnuts, pumpkin and warm spices add a delicious and cozy taste while the hazelnuts add a satisfying crunch. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine 2 cups rolled oats, 3 cups water or non-dairy milk, 1 cup pumpkin puree, ¼ cup pure maple syrup, 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground nutmeg, and ¼ tsp. ground cloves (or 1 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice). Stir together and cook over medium heat. Stir every now and then until you have the consistency you want, about 10 minutes. Transfer the oatmeal to serving bowls and top with ½ cup chopped hazelnuts.
If you would like to start your mornings in a healthier but still delicious direction, try this Maple Spice Oatmeal Bowl of Goodness, Superfood Matcha Porridge, Carrot Cake Oatmeal with Ginger Spiced Cashew Cream, Banana Oatmeal With Hazelnut Butter, Raisins and Baobab Powder, and Healthy Vegan Pomegranate Quinoa Porridge.
Mushrooms were also on my “don’t even think about it” list. I didn’t like how they looked, smelled or tasted. My mother would make mushroom gravy and I would carefully spoon the gravy onto my food trying to avoid any pieces of mushrooms. Who wants to eat a fungus anyway? It wasn’t until after I became vegan that I had to make my peace with the little toadstool-looking vegetable. I remember the day I changed my mind – I ordered a veg version of a Philly cheesesteak at a restaurant. It had lots of ingredients I didn’t like including mushrooms, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. It was amazing. Now I’m a fan of all three of those foods and I make my own Portobello Philly Cheesesteak. If you don’t like mushrooms, these dishes might change your mind: Seitan Portobello Stew, Savory Mushroom Gravy, Potatoes and Porcini Mushroom Ravioli in Broccoli Cream Sauce, Three Mushroom Tagliatelle With Garlic Sauce, Vegan Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto, Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff and Spicy Mushroom Stir Fry with Garlic, Black Pepper, and Chives.
Fruit is supposed to be sweet and delicious so grapefruit just didn’t make sense to me. It seemed like the only people who ate grapefruit willingly were people on diets. It would take powerful motivation like weight loss to make someone pucker their way through breakfast. As we grow older, we learn to like tart foods more and that means we should give grapefruit another chance. That doesn’t mean you have to eat it for breakfast; grapefruit can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Try these Grapefruit Eggplant Fries, Grapefruit Coriander Fennel Bites, Grapefruit Coconut Bread with Cocoa Hazelnut Frosting, and these Chocolate Chip Cookies with Grapefruit and Anise. That’s right, chocolate and grapefruit. How bad can that be?
I should probably be embarrassed but I didn’t even try asparagus until I was in my 30s. My family never had it when I was growing up and I certainly had no reason to order it in restaurants. It was green, weird-looking and it had a bad reputation. Now, it’s one of my favorite green vegetables and I can’t believe there are people out there who don’t like it. When cooked properly, asparagus has a light, delicate flavor and when roasted or sauteed, it’s rich and delicious. Try asparagus mixed in with other veggies like in this Indian Asparagus and Carrot Stir-Fry or Early Light Summer Veggie Saute. Cook it with lots of spices as in this Spiced Indian Tempeh with Vegetables and Quinoa or taste it full-on in this Raw Asparagus Soup. Everything tastes good when paired with pasta and pizza. Try this Asparagus Potato Pizza with Kale Pesto and this Creamy Rotini Alfredo with Asparagus and Peas. Those will definitely change your mind.
8. Hot Tuna
No, not the band, the food. Like most kids, I loved tuna fish sandwiches. My father made them for me to take to school almost every day. Even when I became vegan, one of the first dishes I had to veganize was tuna so now I can have the memory of my father’s lunches while eating my Chickpea “Tuna” Salad. But I never understood the idea of eating hot tuna. That just sounded wrong and with cheese? That was even more wrong. I think my aversion is a cumulative factor of only having eaten tuna out of a can and not mixing cheese with fish. Now I’m a more open-minded adult and so I am willing to try more and more new food combinations. If you need to be won over to the idea of hot “tuna,” you have to try this Vegan Tuna Casserole and this Vegan Chickpea Tuna Melt Sandwich.
Speaking of fish, do kids like sushi? This wasn’t even an option when I was kid. Personally, I have never understood the fascination with eating raw fish. I tasted sushi once and that was enough for me. But that’s me. People everywhere absolutely love sushi and that includes vegans. If you have ever wanted to make your own sushi, we have plenty of tips and tricks for you. First of all, you have to know How to Make Perfect Sushi Rice. Then get the veggies ready by reading How to Prep Perfect Veggies for Sushi Rolls. Learn How to Make Vegan California and Teriyaki Tofu Sushi and How to Reinvent Your Sushi, Vegan-Style. Other recipes include Veggie Sushi: The Green Roll, Raw Carrot Sushi, Multi-Whole-Grain Inari Sushi (Sushi Grains in Fried Tofu Pockets), Tempeh Maki Rolls and How to Make the Best Veggie Sushi Rolls. I bet kids and adults alike will love vegan sushi, including me.
10. Brussels Sprouts
I feel so bad for Brussels sprouts because they get such a bad rap. These little tiny cabbages are so cute and so delicious, especially baby sprouts. It’s not their fault that so many people cook them wrong and they end up gray, mushy and smelly. Most kids see eating these as a punishment and even the dog under the table won’t touch them. But we are adults now so let’s be brave and try them again. Get my cooking tips for Brussels in 5 Ways to Get Anyone to Love Brussels Sprouts and then give them a fair chance by using a great recipe. The best ways to cook them is roasting and sautéing (don’t even think about boiling them). Try these Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Mustard Glaze, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Rosemary Soup, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lime and Chili, and Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, Artichoke Hearts and Sundried Tomatoes.
I have to say that children who are raised vegan are the least picky kids I’ve ever seen. They grow up eating everything and don’t seem to have special categories of foods that disgust them such as vegetables. Most of us probably didn’t grow up that way so if there are foods you always hated as a kid, it’s time to give them another chance. You just might be surprised when one of your most hated foods becomes your new favorite.
Lead Image Source: Vegan Cream Cheese Filled Tomatoes With Spices and Green Onions