My kids have little to no experience with ethnic foods, and that bothers me. What would happen if we ever decide to take a trip out of the country? We’d have to go on massive, exhausting searches for chicken nuggets and pizza.
Today, my twins are eight, and my oldest is 11 — all three of my boys are old enough to know that different food won’t hurt, but young enough to rebel anyways.
So I’ve decided to tiptoe toward adventurous eating by experimenting with “exotic” dishes that each contain something familiar to the kids.
If you’re struggling like I am to get your kids excited about new foods, consider these seven worldly meals that caught on quickly in my house:
We all know the “Sound of Music” line: “Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles.”
I never knew what in the world “schnitzel” really was until recently. Basically, it’s a thin cut of meat, breaded and fried. Sounds right up my kids’ alley! Add some delicious egg noodles tossed in olive oil, throw in some peas and you have a recognizable recipe for kid taste-test success!
This Jamaican specialty features all-beef meatballs that can be seared first, then finished off in the oven, or baked from the get-go for a lower-fat version.
The gravy that covers them is made with some delicious kid-friendly sauces like barbecue sauce, steak sauce and ketchup. Serve over noodles or with a side of rice and veggies for a well-rounded kid-pleaser.
This classic Roman pasta dish is super simple with just a handful of ingredients!
Simply mix cooked rigatoni with olive oil, pecorino Romano cheese, salt and pepper, and though the recipe calls for bits of guanciale (pig jowl), I think we could still get away with calling this dish “Roman” if we mix in some bits of ham instead.
If your kids (like mine) aren’t used to spices, this dish may be a stretch for them, but hey, it’s worth a try! The familiar aspect in this dish will be its similarity to a pulled pork or chicken barbecue, and there aren’t many kids who will turn down the accompanying rice. If basmati rice isn’t their favorite, just throw in some regular white rice.
If your kids aren’t seafood lovers, you could forego the shrimp in this recipe, and it would still be delicious. Most Spanish recipes call for chorizo sausage mix with spices, chopped red pepper and peas. Toss with the brown rice for a savory, easy dinner.
Empanadas are popular just about everywhere, it seems, though they are said to have originated in Spain. This particular recipe will be a hit with kids because it’s basically a ham and cheese sandwich but the bread is a tasty, crispy pastry!
Land O’Frost, thicker-cut Deli Snackers Black Forest Ham would be perfect for cubing, as the recipe calls for, and though it also calls for mozzarella, the cheese freak in me might add another cheese in there as well, like American or cheddar, for that orange look kids love.
After a few weeks of worldly cuisines, your kids may opt for something other than pizza or French fries on the next vacation. And you’ll be that mom flaunting interesting kids with a seasoned pallet!