` Getting Kids to Like EVOO - Olive Oil Times

Getting Kids to Like EVOO

Nov. 28, 2012
Angela Bell

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Photo: Michel Bish

We need fat in our diet. Our bod­ies need it as a source of energy, to process fat sol­u­ble vit­a­mins and as the source of essen­tial fatty acids impor­tant for the nor­mal func­tion of cer­tain glands, meta­bolic func­tions, growth and repro­duc­tion. Children in par­tic­u­lar need good dietary fat.

Unfortunately, most chil­dren I know eat mostly bad dietary fats, the kind that come from meat, dairy and baked goods. One of the best choices for dietary fat is extra vir­gin olive oil. But, for most kids, olive oil is as appeal­ing to their taste buds as oys­ters, liver and Brussels sprouts.

So, what do you do with the finicky eater? The prob­lem with olive oil is the taste, not the tex­ture, so you could try hid­ing it. The suc­cess rate, how­ever, for hid­ing a a fla­vor that is dis­taste­ful to a child is some­where around zero (decades later I can still taste the calves liver in every meat­loaf even though I know it’s not there). Instead, the long-term goal should be to help the child develop a palate for olive oil — and the ear­lier the bet­ter.

Five ways for kids to savor the fla­vor of olive oil

Dip it. Let your lit­tle ones play with their food. Teach them to dip bread, pita wedges or tor­tilla chips in lightly sea­soned olive oil. Even tod­dlers can suc­cess­fully dip their food and will begin asso­ci­at­ing olive oil with fun. It’s a great way to start devel­op­ing a taste for a healthy alter­na­tive to but­ter and but­tery fla­vors.

Make gummy bears. Gummy bears will sat­isfy any child’s sweet tooth. Pick a recipe that you can make together that uses olive oil for fla­vor­ing. You can find the ingre­di­ents online and molds at your local hard­ware or sport­ing goods stores. Insect and worm-like lures are the best.

Olive Oil Gummy Worms from Modernist Cuisine on Vimeo.

Buy olive oil made espe­cially for kids. Just as there are spicier, more pun­gent extra vir­gin olive oils well suited for the adult palate, there are vari­eties of sweeter, milder olive oils made espe­cially for chil­dren. Drizzle it over a favorite dessert, spread on toast or use it to fry their chicken ten­ders. Even though it is sweeter than the more adult vari­ety, it has an olive oil fla­vor to which their palates will even­tu­ally become accus­tomed.

Taste test olive oil. It prob­a­bly took you a while to find your favorite fla­vor of olive oil so don’t expect your child to take any less time than you did. Have a fam­ily taste test. Buy small con­tain­ers and sam­ple each until every­one finds one that pleases their palate. Label it for her use only.

Fill choco­lates with olive oil. You can buy choco­lates filled with olive oil or you can make them on your own. The same method used for fill­ing choco­lates with brandies and other liqueurs can be used to fill them with extra vir­gin olive oil. In either case, you are retrain­ing the palate of a young one to equate a pleas­ant expe­ri­ence with olive oil. Stored in the refrig­er­a­tor, the con­sis­tency of the oil thick­ens to a creamy cen­ter, not unlike a pop­u­lar hol­i­day choco­late egg!

Like wine, olive oil is made from fruit and offers an assort­ment of fla­vors. Your adult palate even­tu­ally learned to enjoy a col­lec­tion of wines, and so too, your child’s palate will even­tu­ally learn to enjoy extra vir­gin olive oil.

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