Recently, JoyFoodly was asked to speak at the Marin California County Fair for a series called KIDS Talks. We spoke about how at JoyFoodly, we help parents and kids explore food by using all of their senses, whether at home or in the school setting. Of the three JoyFoodly Eating Principles we shared, the “Taste More, Talk Less” principle is my all-time favorite. We demoed this with kids and families.
How Chef Hollie demos “Taste More, Talk Less” with kids and parents at the county fair
Today, I want to take you on an adventure. We’re going to Vietnam, where the weather may be hot but the food is cool, fresh and delightful.
It’s summer, so we’re going to eat what’s growing now. We have a red pepper, some carrots, some yummy avocados, a little cilantro, and some beautiful rainbow chard. Wow! All those colors make me smile.
Before we begin, I have a few rules for my kitchen adventures:
- 1st: we all try each of the ingredients. It’s ok if you don’t like something, but we need to try it to know if we like it.
- The 2nd rule is, please don’t yuck my yum. If you don’t care for something, that’s ok but chefs don’t use words like yuck or gross. It doesn’t tell us anything. We use words that tell us how to make the dish better for the next try. Ok?
Let me show you how to taste, first:
- I’ll just close my eyes. Can you squirt a little bit of that sauce on my finger please? Thanks.
- I like to smell my food. Oh, that reminds me of popcorn and honey.
- I’m going to put a little bit on the middle of my tongue and see if I like it.
- Oh, I really like this sauce. It’s actually really great with those red peppers!
- Put your pinky finger out if you’d like to try some, too.
Ok, let’s get to rollin’:
I like to call these summer rolls a salad on the go!
Ok, everyone, we’ll do this together. Follow each of my steps (you can see all the steps in our Summer Fresh Vietnamese Rolls recipe).
Basically, within the first summer roll completed, my table was surrounded with kids and adults having fun, engaging all their senses through this fun food activity. I didn’t need to say anything else to convince them to try this new food from a foreign land.
Here’s what we mean at JoyFoodly when we say, “Taste More, Talk Less”
1) Food is all about pleasure. We can’t stress this enough.
- At the fair, we smelled our food, we tasted it, and we talked about it. We engaged with it through our senses and not through cerebral dialogue about what health benefits we’d get from eating that beautiful chard. Kids will not eat food just because you say it’s good for them. They need to enjoy it and each time they enjoy a new experience with food, they’ll be more brave the next time to try something new.
- We repeat the behaviors that make us feel good. Each and every day, you can make your kids feel good about healthy foods by starting with engaging them through their senses to discover the veggie kingdom.
2) Gentle but firm boundaries. We always have rules before we begin engaging kids around food.
- At the fair, we asked the kids if they could follow my two easy rules before I ever got started. What I’ve found through the years is that if you set firm but gentle boundaries up front with kids, they actually can relax and enjoy the experience better. Within those boundaries, I give them autonomy to make their own choices and I don’t force them to eat anything but my rule is to at least give it a try, and within those boundaries, I ensure they are given all healthy choices to choose from!
- Parents, know that you are in control and if you can set boundaries, your kids will actually do much better. The trick is in making them gentle. Remember to praise for trying. Ensure them that they’ll like it next time and that we always taste everything.
At the fair, we ended on a quote to inspire parents to incorporate our Taste More Talk Less principle back at home. I hope you’ll remember it, too, the next time you take your family on a happy food adventure.
Tell me and I forget.
Teach me and I remember.
Involve me and I learn.