First, meet my son, Coleman:
This young man is many amazing, stupendous, tremendous things, but one thing he is decidedly not is an adventurous eater.
He has, for all intents and purposes, what we refer to as a Discernible Palate.
Next, meet my new favorite person, Jamie Oliver:
Cole and I started watching Jamie's new 6-part series, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, a few weeks back and the impact on Cole and his discernible eating habits has been nothing less than notable. I say notable because this isn't a dramatic story about a kid who watched a show and then said, "OH, I get it! I'm supposed to eat a well-balanced diet!", but it IS about a kid who watched a show and was inspired to make an effort to try just a little harder with his culinary exploits.
You know what? That is notable. In fact, if you knew my son, you'd call it downright miraculous.
Part of Jamie's Food Revolution includes bringing back cooking; passing along the meal-making torch to friends and family, and that's exactly what Cole and I decided to do together. Cole wanted to learn to make a meal so we planned to let him make his new favorite dish, shredded pork tacos.
It started in the morning with a pork tenderloin, a crock pot and a jar of Trader Joe's Salsa Verde.
A lid was put in place and the boy headed off to another day in the 4th grade.
Eight hours later, he walked in the door and shouted, "Is it time to shred?" and shred he did.
With a little help from me on the Cilantro-Lime rice and the toasting of the corn tortillas, dinner was essentially served.
Cole would have looked a little happier for this triumphant moment but he was just told he had to sit at the table with the family, despite the fact that another re-run of The Simpsons had just started.
Another part of Jamie's Food Revolution is the idea that families need to keep their meal times together as sacred as they can; to spend the time sharing a meal and connecting. While that isn't always going to be logistically possible, there are times when Homer Simpson is just going to have to wait.
I never really made any meals with my Mom when I was growing up. I really like the idea of sharing this knowledge with your kids. Or, if you're not a cook yourself, finding one or two things that you can learn to make and share with your family.
To me, cooking is all about creativity and connection. To make something delicious and nutritious from simple ingredients excites me. I'm hoping just a bit of this rubs off on these Zielske kids as we go.
Do you have a family member that falls into the Discernible Palate category? If so, I'd like to share with you another part of Cole's new adventure in food: The Discernible Palate Progress Tracker.
Dan and I decided to devise a new system to encourage Cole to try new things. We set up a points system based on the following three criteria: trying something new, eating something new and loving something new. We set a points goal (currently it's at 15) and when Cole meets that goal, he gets to cash it in for a night out at his favorite restaurant (currently a tie between TGIFridays and Buffalo Wild Wings.)
I'm not going to make outrageous claims and say that Coleman will be eating seared ahi tuna with a pomegranate reduction by June, but I will say this replaces some of the drudgery of trying to explain for the billionth time that YES! You have to eat ALL of those carrot sticks.
Here are three PDFs in slightly different color schemes for you to download, print out, and begin tracking with the discernible member of your family today.
A big thank you to Jamie Oliver, for inspiring kids just like mine (and for that matter, Moms like me) to be a part of the change.