Here is something to think about, perhaps the reason you don’t eat broccoli or kale is because your palate leans to sweet vegetables like carrots and potatoes. This past week I learned a lot about individualized palates or a better way to say it might be our individualized tastes for different fruit and vegetables. Amanda Archibald (www.fieldtoplate.com) is a culinary nutritionist who has developed a fruit/vegetable guide organized by sensory and flavor families. The guide identifies your palate status through your general like/dislikes of fruits and vegetables.
Discovering where you or more importantly where your kid’s tastes fall on the palate wheel turns out to be very helpful information if you are working on expanding the variety of fruits and veggies in your diet. For vegetables the spectrum runs from sweet to earthy to spicy to bitter with a couple of other categories in-between. For fruits the flavor gamut runs from most tart and acidic to sweet and least acidic to mild and crisp.
I found it revealing that even within some varieties, in particular oranges, there is great variety of tastes that could influence someone’s acceptance. Most of us just buy oranges, not really thinking if they are Valencia or Minneolas but that could be the difference between liking and disliking oranges, a very good source of Vitamin C and potassium. On the palate wheel, Valencias are one of the sweetest and least acidic varieties while Minneolas are some of the least sweet and more acidic oranges you can choose.
Do this test. What are your favorite vegetables? If you like carrots and spinach and dislike leeks then you have a palate that leans to the sweet and neutral or mild vegetables. Leeks are farther down the spectrum at spicy. Generally people who like the vegetables with stronger flavors have “robust palates” or more open palates. It is possible to enrich your palate and move to “robust” by finding recipes that bring out the best of the vegetable you are introducing to your taste buds or your family’s. I generally dislike bok choy ( even after all these years in China) but my neighbor prepares a wonderful bok choy salad that I love and have served many times to friends and family. Whats the difference? Perhaps it is the seasoning or the fact that the bok choy is raw but it works for me.
Looking over the categories and the lists of veggies/fruit under each group, I know this would have been helpful when my kids were young. My boys were not great vegetable eaters but they did eat some. Perhaps if I had known the natural progression of veggies from sweet to spicy there may have been more variety and less debating at our dinner table.
In the end that is the most helpful discovery of this palate to plate idea. Whether you are trying to “open” your own palate or introducing new veggies to your family, following this logical progression from sweet to spicy can add variety and fun to the kitchen.
For more information on the palate spectrum/wheel check out:
Eat Well,Live Well, Have Fun!