Spices May Entice Your Teen to Eat Their Vegetables

Parents, there may finally be a way to get your teens to eat their vegetables! According to a study published in Food Quality and Preference, teens preferred seasoned vegetables over plain ones. After surveying a sample of students, parents, and cafeteria staff at a rural Pennsylvania high school to assess barriers to vegetable intake and familiarity with certain spices, researchers recruited 96 to 110 students, ages 14 to 18, to participate in eight taste tests comparing pairs—spiced and plain—of vegetable dishes. For the spiced vegetables, eight vegetables (broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, a black bean and corn blend, carrots, a green pea and corn blend, and a yogurt dip served with raw vegetables) were prepared with spice blends developed to complement the vegetables and tweaked to suit the students’ tastes as determined from the survey; for example, sweet potatoes were baked with salt, chipotle, cumin, garlic, and paprika; and carrots were cooked with soybean oil, salt, and cinnamon. For the plain vegetables, the same eight vegetables were prepared with just salt and soybean oil. When the students tried each vegetable over eight lunch periods, researchers found:

  • Students rated the seasoned versions of four vegetables—broccoli, yogurt dip served with raw vegetables, black beans and corn, and cauliflower—as more likable overall than their plain counterparts.
  • Students preferred the seasoned versions of six vegetables—corn and peas, broccoli, yogurt dip served with raw vegetables, black beans and corn, cauliflower, and green beans—over their plain counterparts when asked to choose between the two.

Getting vegetables into your teen’s diet is important for their health, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans estimates that, on average, teens don’t get enough: most get a cup a day—a far cry from the daily three to four cups they should be getting. If you want to see if spices can tempt your teen to eat their vegetables, conduct a taste test at home. Some winning combos from this study include black beans and corn with cumin, oregano, cayenne, garlic, onion, and paprika; broccoli with soybean oil, salt, dill, garlic, onion, and black pepper; and cauliflower with soybean oil, salt, coriander, garlic, onion, and black pepper.

Source: Food Quality and Preference

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