Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Taste Buds: Magic in Our Mouth

Have you ever wondered why your kids love a certain food one week and won't-touch-it-with-a-ten-foot-pole the next?  Is there a food you yourself disliked as a Child/Adolescent that you still haven't given a second try?

Well I have some interesting info to share with you that may shed some light on why we like the foods/flavours we do and why you should give that _______ (insert name of food you won't eat here) another go.  But first before I do, I wanted to share with you a bit of my own eating history.  I grew up like many children do, hating vegetables!  The only veggies I would eat as a child were corn (not actually a vegetable!) and eventually warmed up to peas and carrots, but it was a tenuous relationship at best.  Of course my Mother now finds it hilarious that I am now a Vegetarian who LOVES vegetables!  And I would too if I had had to deal cooking to suit my finnicky eating habits.

Why is it that children often despise vegetables?  I'll tell you why!  It's because our brains have been programmed to dislike bitter tastes for survival purposes. Our ancestors (the cave men and women of our fair world) needed these tasty instincts to recognize flora and fauna that was poisonous to them (poison apparently has a bitter taste similar to the often bitter taste of veggies).  Be careful not to share this info with your wee ones though as they may claim justification in not eating their veggies because you are attempting to poison them lol!

Our taste buds (all 2,000-10,000 of them!) can recognize 5 different tastes, these are salty, sweet, sour, bitter and "umami" or savoury.  Most people enjoy (some might say crave) the salty, sweet and savoury tastes but do not enjoy the sour and bitter ones, because of this innate survival instinct.  Interestingly enough taste buds can also be affected by hormones, as in when a woman is pregnant they may experience an aversion to the bitter taste of veggies because their body is attempting to protect their unborn baby from perceived poisons...aren't our bodies Neat?!!

The taste buds are constantly regenerating (roughly every 10 days to 2 weeks) and it is possible to train your taste buds to be open to new foods, by appealing to their love of sweet, salty or savoury flavours.  By changing the method of preparation, adding a sweet element or adding a bit of healthy fats to the dish or slowly incorporating more of that food into your diet in different ways (mixing it into a salad, adding it as a home-made pizza topping, mixing it into your fav casserole dish) you can train your taste buds to tolerate and even enjoy these foods!

**FYI: Did you know that Taste and Flavour are actually two different things?  Taste is the act of the sensory receptors of our taste buds...Flavour is the mixture of our sense of taste and smell coming together.

My Lovely friend Sylvia Oakley has recently started a funny and delicious Vegan Cooking Show on Youtube and in one of her first episodes she created an Amazing Brussel Sprout Dish!  I know what you all are thinking..ick Brussel Sprouts!! Trust me up until preparing Sylvia's dish myself and sampling it I felt the same way.  I had tried Brussel Sprouts once or twice as a kid and the boiled bitter taste had me running for the hills!  But this dish is a Tantalizing mixture of flavours, with a dash of maple syrup to appeal to our sweet-loving taste buds.  I have since made it a few times and I have to say it is so easy and quick and nutritious to boot! fits all of my criteria..because my food must not only be good for my body but appealing to my palate as well!  Please watch this helpful video from Sylvia's Vegan Kitchen on preparing that Awesome Brussel Sprout dish below....soo YUMMY!!

 So whether Brussel Sprouts are your arch nemesis, another veggie or maybe you have a whole host of foods you aren't fond of, don't write them off as foods you will never enjoy, experiment with new recipes, preparation methods and give them the benefit of the doubt..because not only are our veggies good for us but they can taste GREAT too!  Thanks Sylvia for allowing me to share your Brussel Sprout Wisdom! ;)

Eat Happy, Eat Healthy!


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