That is a pineapple….or is it a mango?

Five Little Chefs – That is a pineapple….or is it a mango?  How many times have you or your kids misidentified fruits or vegetables? Mine do it quite frequently.  The first recipe Little Chef C made was Chef Robert’s Seared Mahi Mahi with Mango Sauce.  In referencing this recipe later she said she wanted to “make the fish with the pineapple sauce.” After some thought I realized she was mistaking the mango for the pineapple. Why would she get the two mixed up? They seem so different to me. We needed to put the mango and the pineapple side by side and discuss the similarities and differences.
Kids love to investigate and learn. If they learn about the components of a recipe they will be more interested to eat it. If we eliminate the scary factor foods have because they are unfamiliar we will be a step closer to helping our kids eat a wider variety of foods.
The produce department is a perfect place to teach your kids about fruits and vegetables. Discovery is all about observations. Point out a fruit or vegetable and call it by its name. Ask leading questions such as what color is it? Is the skin smooth or rough? Does it look hard or soft? Where do you think it grows; under ground or above ground? For some, like apples, you can show them there are different varieties like red and green. In the mound of apples you can show them some are small and some are large.
Observation is the first step to understanding fruits and vegetables. The next step requires hands on experience. Recently we were in the produce department and one of my Little Chefs was curious about coconut milk. No matter how long we talked about the hard hairy outside, the fact that it grows high up on a tree, or the sound the milk makes when you shake the coconut she would not understand the taste unless we opened it up.


What did we do? We bought a coconut to investigate at home. Kids like to make predictions. What do you think will be inside? What color will it be?  Little Chef A said, “I wish I could try the tender meat.” I asked why she called it “tender meat”? She responded, “I read it in a book.” I was happy for that book because it made her wonder.
The Little Chefs helped their Dad open the coconut and catch the milk.  They helped scrape out the meat. Now it was time to smell and taste.

First up was the milk. Little Chef C said, “It looks like water…..I like it.” Little Chef A said, “It is not my favorite because it does not have that much of a flavor.” Little Chef D said, “It has a bad flavor I don’t like it.”

Next was the “tender meat.” Little Chef A said, “It is hard. I wish I did like it but I don’t.”  Little Chef C said, “It tastes good.” Little Chef D said, “I don’t like it.” After giving it more thought Little Chef A said, “Next time I want to blend the meat and the milk together in a blender to make coconut milk.” (She means the kind that comes in a can.)
A couple days later we were watching Iron Chef America and saw Bobby Flay open a coconut A LOT faster then Dad did using a different method. Little Chef C said, “We should have opened our coconut that way!” Even though each Little Chef had a different opinion when they saw it on the show they had a connection to that coconut. They could relate to what Bobby Flay was doing and they were more interested.
We have a rule in our house everyone has to try a little of everything new. How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tried it?  Whether they liked it or not they are now more familiar with a coconut of this type. If there are more then one type like apples buy a few varieties and let them tell you the differences. They are smarter then we think. They will come up with one being more sweet and another more sour.
If you tap into the curiosity of kids they will want to have exposure to a new type of food.  By teaching kids about different fruits and vegetables their misconceptions will be eliminated. I’m not saying they will like everything they eat. They will discover the truth on their own. They will have a personal connection through that investigation which will lead them to healthy foods around them.


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9 Replies to "That is a pineapple....or is it a mango?"

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    Its So Very Cheri April 24, 2012 (8:24 am)

    Its Cheri from Its So Very Cheri–following along and I hope you will do the same.
    I love the hands on approach. We see all kinds of unique fruits here in Florida and are always trying new things.

    Cheri from Its So Very Cheri

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    Heather Lynne April 24, 2012 (6:03 pm)

    This sounds like so much fun! We did something similar with my special ed students last year but we didn't show the the whole fruit, only compared the cut up fruit. We looked at color, sweet/sour, and rated how they liked it. Then they guessed what it is. If I do this again next year it looks like it would be fun to have them look at the outside and guess what is on the inside-great idea!

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    Cheryl April 24, 2012 (7:12 pm)

    We have many little chefs in our home too and we have picky eaters that if you can imagine are also willing to try strange and new things. I say they are picky because they love what they love and like sticking to that yet when we bring home something new like a dragon fruit everyone is keen to try it. We have tried coconut twice but both times we got one that was rotten on the inside and wow was it foul. I want to try a Pomelo next. Aren't we blessed to live in a time when we can get foods from all over the world. Great blog!!!

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    Five Little Chefs April 24, 2012 (8:49 pm)

    Will do. Trying new foods is very fun!

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    Five Little Chefs April 24, 2012 (8:51 pm)

    That is a great idea! I think I will do a blind taste test with my Little Chefs with a variety of fruits and vegetables. They will LOVE it!!

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    Five Little Chefs April 24, 2012 (8:54 pm)

    I am so happy we didn't get a bad coconut. I didn't even think of that when we bought it. Maybe I should consider myself lucky. If we run out of different foods to try at our regular store we can always go to the local Mexican or Asian Market for more options! You are right, we are blessed!

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    My Misadventures in Motherhood April 24, 2012 (9:32 pm)

    I love this!! It totally reminded me of when I went to Hawaii with my husband…we were on the Road to Hana and there were a couple of guys on the side of the road selling coconuts. If you gave them $5, they would chop a hole in it and stick a straw in so you could drink the milk. Of course I told my husband we HAD to stop and try it.

    Well, it tasted pretty darn crappy, let me tell you. I totally laughed when I read your kids' reactions, because that's sort of what I thought…"I wish I liked it, but I just don't." And then I felt cheated out of five bucks, since the coconuts were falling from trees all over the area, and we could have just as easily found one lying around and taken it back to the hotel with us…for free.

    Ah, well…live and learn. LOL

    Stumbled this for you. And I'm following! Love your blog!

    Smiles, Jenn@Misadventures in Motherhood

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    Julie@teachinggoodeaters April 26, 2012 (8:23 pm)

    I just discovered your blog and I am LOVING it!! A while ago I did a "produce tour" with my kids and was surprised at what they knew and what they didn't know! We were just discussing coconut the other day because my kids have had coconut milk and coconut oil, coconut sugar, and coconut oil, but we've never actually bought a coconut so they had no understanding of where any of these things come from…

    I'd love if you'd link this up to Food Adventure Friday!

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    Tamika Rybinski April 28, 2012 (10:49 am)

    such a cute blog, what a neat idea! following you now!

    Tamika @

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