Children have more sensitive taste buds than adults, so very few will enjoy very spicy ingredients the way some adults do. Not every kid is going to love spicy ethnic meals, piquant onions, or fiery salsas though. Our taste buds get less sensitive as we get older and this is why tolerance to spice is something that increases with age.
Sometimes children might reject certain recipes because they can taste subtle flavors in it that we, as adults, cannot. They find flavors which we might call "mild" really overpowering and this is a normal reaction to their sensory reactions.
A survey carried out in 2006 on three to five year olds revealed many of them enjoyed the taste of curry. This might come as a surprise to people who assume that kids prefer bland recipes.
Tips To Encourage Children To Taste Spiced Dishes
Do not buy those pre-packaged jars of toddler food for your kids. They are bland, boring and a waste of money. Feeding your kids bland food when they are young encourages them to be picky later on.
Home-cooked recipes are always best and if you cook in bulk you can freeze or chill a lot of the food. You do not have to cook baby food or toddler food fresh every day. Feed the kids the same food the adults have. This also helps if they are fussy eaters, since children learn by observing others.
If you are planning to make a spicy meal and you are catering for kids too, you should ensure that the meal is not too heavily spiced. A pinch of curry powder or a dash of cayenne pepper is enough.
Also, serve "cooling" dishes on the side, such as cucumber, sour cream, fruit, green leafy salads, yogurt, or mint. A lot of cuisines already work these ingredients into their menus, to allow for the fact that not everybody has the same response to spiced meals.
Provide plenty of milk or water to drink and also make a cool dessert. Sensitivity to spices varies, especially in kids and people who have never really eaten hot things, so be patient if you want to make authentic Mexican food recipes, or other meals, which do contain spice.
Another good tip is to serve the chilies or hot sauce on the side so people who want extra heat can add a few drops of hot sauce or a few slices of jalapeno or red chili pepper. You do not have to serve bland meals when you do this but do not put much spice in the meal itself because you cannot remove chili powder the same way you can pick out celery slices or olives.
Introduce The Heat Gradually
If you serve your child something which is too spicy for them, they might burn their lips, mouth, or throat and this can be a traumatic experience. There is a lot of difference between a tingling mouth and one which feels like it is on fire.
This is a frightening experience for a young child and if it happens, you can expect your child to refuse spicy dishes (even subtly spiced ones) for the remainder of their formative years. The answer is to go easy on the spices and introduce your traditional Mexican foods and other piquant dishes gradually.
You can make most Mexican recipes as hot or as mild as you like, adding chilies or hot sauce to make them fiery or cutting down on these ingredients for a softer finish. Why not try making a salsa recipe at home? Salsa can range from really mild to very hot.
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