8 Foods You Hated as a Kid, ReinventedKaren Belz

Everyone has at least one. You know – the one food that you hated as a child, and swear that you still hate today, despite avoiding it like the plague for the last fifteen years. Maybe it was being forced to eat that mountain of peas before you could watch TV, or a dish that made you sick once and left you traumatized well into adulthood. The truth is (and no discredit to your Mom or Dad), maybe you just hated the way they prepped the dish.

According to Nicholas Bower, MD, district medical director at MedExpress, you can train your palate to enjoy new foods. “By our watching our parents and friends, our brain learns what foods are ‘good,’” says Dr. Bower. So if you want to enjoy brussel sprouts, maybe try them for a second time with a friend whose especially fond of the dish.

Or if you want to get a head start on being the #1 vegetable fan in town, here’s a list of eight healthy-yet-universally-kid-unfriendly foods and some recipes and ideas that’ll help you learn to adore them. Or at least, tolerate them.

1. Broccoli

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The only way I liked broccoli as a kid was if I pretended it was a tiny tree, and was allowed to eat it the way Littlefoot did when he reached The Great Valley. (So in short: Eating it when company wasn’t around.) Thankfully my love of cartoons really improved my tolerance for the green stuff at a young age. Broccoli has a strong, positive impact on our body’s detoxification system and also contains a ton of Vitamin D, which is a necessary nutrient.

If the thought of broccoli makes you gag, here’s a new way to cook it that’ll be less mushy from Adam Roberts of Amateur Gourmet (who based the recipe off of one by the Barefoot Contessa.) Not only will the broccoli be crisp, but the addition of lemon juice, zest, and Parmesan cheese will make you forget you’re eating broccoli.

2. Eggplant

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I ate a vegetarian diet for about seven years, and always gagged over the fact that eggplants were often the “vegetarian alternative choice” at events and specific restaurants. While I don’t think they taste great, they look really cool and are super healthy for you – so they’ve got a lot going for them. In fact, the skin of the eggplant contains the nutrient nasunin, which has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage.

Ever try Greek moussaka? Moussaka is a casserole made by layering eggplant with a spiced meat filling. While this suggestion isn’t vegetarian, it can easily be adapted. While prepping and baking will take up to three hours and cost you 3 or 4 eggplants, it’s sure to give these purple buddies a new reputation in your household.

3. Beets

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While Dwight Schrute was a big believer in the beet, most don’t share his perspective. Even the word “beet” often brings about frowns, unless you’re discussing an episode of Doug.

A study in England found that beets improved endurance during exercise, and they’re notorious for lowering blood pressure. But those facts don’t make them taste better.
Have you ever considered drinking a beet? Over at Cadry’s Kitchen, Cadry – who describes herself as a beet hater – created a simple morning juice that’ll probably jump start your morning. Here’s what you’ll need: 1 beet, 3 celery stalks, 1 carrot, half of a medium-sized cucumber, and a peeled orange. Your body will thank you.

4. Peas

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Peas were my enemy. Something about their wrinkly, small presence and bitter taste made me realize that we’d never understand each other growing up. Thankfully, I’ve grown to kind of like them. And it all started when I grew my own at home. (Why would I grow a vegetable I hate? I don’t know. The gardening experience?)

I might have embraced them sooner if they weren’t alone on the side of the plate, giving me the evil eye. If they were tossed with this lovely homemade gnocchi, I might have changed my tune. This recipe from Saveur.com has been rated as “dinner party level”. If gnocchi is a bit too much work, I’ve mentioned my award winning Kraft Macaroni & Peas recipe on here earlier. It’s pretty darn great.

5. Cottage Cheese

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You can’t expect any kid to love cottage cheese, and you can’t really expect a full grown adult to get overly excited about it. Whenever I went to the diner as a kid (which was often), they always offered cottage cheese in a melon wedge as one of their three “healthy choice options.” I’ve never seen anyone order it, nor would I respect them if they did. At least, back then.

Now, I’ve realized that when you can get past the texture, cottage cheese is a pretty useful thing to have in your fridge. Not only is it a healthier alternative for breakfast, but it can be paired with more than half of a honeydew.

If you’re looking for a quick and tasty lunch, try a grilled cottage cheese and tomato sandwich. While it’s much healthier than a grilled cheese (no butter!), it’ll give you a similar satisfaction.

6. Fish

It puzzles me when I hear about people not liking fish. But there’s a reason why fish sticks are a popular menu on the kid’s menu and not for adults – the heavy breading makes it a lot more kid-friendly and tolerable.

Fish is great for your heart, as it’s rich in calcium, phosphorus and minerals like iron and zinc. Plus, it’s a healthier meat than beef.

According to Cooking Light, a good way to try and incorporate more seafood into your diet is to not get too intense with your introduction. You don’t want to start eating a fish that’s too – well – “fishy”. Flounder and catfish are mild and readily available, so you might want to start there.

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This recipe for food-truck style tilapia tacos might be perfect. With the addition of cilantro and lime juice, you might forget it’s fish.

7. Mushrooms

Remember my whole “eggplants were always the vegetarian alternative” claim? If it wasn’t an eggplant, it was a mushroom. A big, disgusting mushroom. If you learned how mushrooms were “born” as a small child, there’s a chance you might avoid them forever.

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In situations like this, I look to Martha Stewart for inspiration. And alas, she does not disappoint. Not only does her recipe for Roasted Potatoes and Mushrooms with Melted Taleggio Cheese look delicious, but it looks rich and filling – which are two of my check off points when questioning a good meal. Is there anything that cheese can’t solve?

8. Raisins

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Go ahead and take one look at the Sun-Maid Raisin girl. There’s a look of trust in her eyes. “Eat the contents of this red box,” she’s telling you. “Believe me. I don’t mean you any harm.”

Don’t be deceived. That gigantic hat means nothing. Raisins are often gross, and know what’s more disgusting than raisins? YELLOW raisins.

Every time I think of raisins, I think of this scene from Better Off Dead.

Thankfully, there are so many ways to tolerate raisins. For example: have you ever had them covered in yogurt? Or mixed in with cookie batter? They can satisfy your sweet tooth, and remind you of Christmas at the same time!

Also, always remember that raisins are just dehydrated grapes. It takes about 70 raisins to equal a one-half cup serving of fruit. If the thought of these tiny monsters grosses you out, grapes are the perfect substitute. Just tell people you prefer them in their true form.

What foods did you hate as a kid? Do you still hate them today?

Image Credits: Featured, Broccoli, Eggplant, Beets, Peas, Cheese, Taco, Mushroom, Raisins

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  1. I must have been a weird child as I loved everything you listed especially beets, peas and mushrooms. Have you ever tried pickled beets? They’re delicious in a cheese sandwich.

  2. I was raised as a vegan! So all those except the cottage cheese & fish was in my diet and I loved it! I eat fish and cheese now grew out the vegan stuff, but still eat more veggies than anything! Those are yummy too! I know a lot of kids that love it too, even when i was growing up. maybe i was in a weird world where kids ate their greens /shrug. So this article feels foreign to me! :P

  3. Squash, and sage stuffing, oatmeal, and cod liver oil.

  4. Broccoli, Celery, Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Yams. All delicious now. thank God your palate changes in adulthood! Still waiting on fish. I’m 31. I don’t like it. I’m not that hopeful I ever will.