If there is a variety of spinach to introduce to your kids, this is the one. Straight from the farm, it was crunchy, crisp, and had the most beautiful purple-tipped roots. After I’ve seen the potential for spinach, it’s going to be hard to return to those limp bagged baby spinach greens that you so often see in the grocery store. This is spinach with heft. Popeye-approved 100%.

ME: Do you know what you’re eating?  What is it?

LAUREN: Green leaf lettuce?

ME: No, it’s not green leaf lettuce.  Does anyone know what the green leaves are on their plate?

SAM: I don’t know.

ME: Have you guys ever tried spinach before?

LAUREN: I have.

ME: You have?  Where?  At school?  Where have you tried spinach before?

LAUREN: When we were cooking something.

ME: You and me?

LAUREN: No.  At camp.

ME: Oh cool. Have you had spinach before Emma?

EMMA: But it was tinier.

ME: Have you guys ever heard of Popeye?  Who’s Popeye.


ME: No, it’s not Papa (their grandfather).  Popeye is a really strong guy with big muscles.  You know what he loves to eat? 

LAUREN: Spinach!

ME: He eats spinach.  That’s what he eats all the time.  Can you believe that?  He eats this stuff.  What do you guys think, does it taste good?

LAUREN: With some olive oil and salt on it.

ME: Yeah.  You like it, Emma?

LAUREN: It tasted so bad plain.
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yellow doll_FeedMeDearly

I was so thrilled to find a Yellow Doll watermelon at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago. I hauled it around the market as I picked up a few more items, satisfied with my prize.  As I was paying for some carrots, I asked the farmer to lop the tops off. “You know you the tops are edible right?” he asked as he passed me my change. I then launched into a lengthy story of how my freezer was full of carrot top pesto, blah, blah, blah. Finally got home, no Yellow Doll in sight. In all of my pesto smugness I’d left it with the carrot farmer, his consolation prize for having to listen to my five-minute response. Fortunately there was another Yellow Doll waiting for me a week later. And it was well worth the wait…

ME: Ok, wait guys.  What are these called?

SAM: Uh, yellow baby.

LAUREN: Dolly?

ME: Yes!  You were the closest. Yellow doll, that’s right.

EMMA: Yellow dolly.

ME: What does it look like?

EMMA: A tomato.

ME: It does look a little bit like yellow tomatoes.  What’s different between these than our usual watermelons?

SAM: They’re yellow.

ME: Yeah, they’re yellow and what else?

LAUREN:  They’ve got blacker seeds.

ME: Yeah, they’ve got darker seeds.  With our other watermelons you can kind of eat the seeds.  But with these ones you really should not eat the seeds. Or else….


ME: You will grow…

LAUREN: A watermelon out of your head.
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ghost peppers_FeedMeDearly

Before you report me to CPS, please know that this mystery food was not intentional. Ghost peppers are nearly 500,000 Scoville Heat Units, which is twice as spicy as a scotch bonnet. To give you some perspective, after handling an open chili with bare hands and scratching my nose, both my finger and my nose were tingling for 30 minutes.

So clearly I wasn’t trying to feed this to my children. But if you’ve seen my weekly CSA posts, you’ll know that each week I set out our vegetables on the ground for an aerial snapshot of each week’s box. It just so happens that my kids – for better or for worse – are now much more adventurous eaters than they were a year ago. Prompting two little ones to take it upon themselves to sample this week’s produce before I had a chance to pick up our loot. Which led to some interesting mystery food discussion….

EMMA: Aaaah!!!!! Aaaahhh!!!! It hurts, it hurts!

ME: What hurts?!

EMMA: My mouth!!!! I’m crying! It hurts!

SAM: Aaaahhh!!!! My mouth hurts too!

ME: Guys, what happened?! Oh my god, did you eat a spicy pepper? Which one?

SAM and EMMA: (crying and drooling)

ME: Lauren, which one? Which one did they eat? Did they eat the ghost pepper?

LAUREN: Which one’s the ghost pepper?!

ME: The small one! The small red one! Where are the peppers?

LAUREN: I don’t know!

ME: We need to find them, hurry, this is really bad if they ate them. They could have really burned themselves!

ME: (Searching uncovers the peppers, one with a large bite out of it)

SAM: It hurts mommy (drooling)

ME: Guys, you need to drink something – here, drink this…where is it….here, drink this…it’s LEMONADE!

EMMA: I hate lemonade!

ME: Oh my god, guys, eat these hamburger buns – it’ll soak up the spiciness. Hurry!

SAM & EMMA: (Eating, and spitting out big clumps of chewed hamburger bun, crying and drooling)

ME: Is it better?!


ME: Oh my god, I’m going to have to call poison control. Guys, you could have burned yourselves!

POISON CONTROL: Hello, this is poison control. Can I get your name?

ME: So my kids just ate a bite of a ghost pepper, is it possible that they severely burned themselves?

POISON CONTROL: No, but you should be aware of vomiting and diarrhea.

ME: What can I do to reverse things? I’ve been giving them bread to soak it up.

POISON CONTROL: The active ingredient is capsaicin –  do you have milk at home? Ice cream also works.

ME: OK, I’m going to try it. So there’s no way that they actually burned themselves with this?

POISON CONTROL: No, just keep them upright this afternoon in case of vomiting and diarrhea and I’ll call you in an hour to check in on them.

 ….. (20 minutes later)

ME: Guys, is the ice cream helping?

SAM & EMMA: Yes.

EMMA: I don’t like those peppers. Take them back to the farmer’s market!

SAM: Yeah….Throw them out!


yellow squash_FeedMeDearly

The kids have had zucchini before and while they don’t love it cubed, the girls love zucchini spiralized noodles. I thought that yellow squash would be a hit but I made a few mistakes, namely 1) cooking it first (they tend to like to try things raw for the first time), and 2) choosing dinner time (our mystery food almost always happens separately from mealtime when they’re not distracted). But isn’t that how most people introduce new foods to their kids – cooked and at dinnertime? Something to consider for those of you struggling with your picky eaters… Switching up the format can make all the difference.

ME: What is this yellow vegetable right here?

SAM: Zucchini.

ME: It’s kind of like zucchini, but it’s not.  What is it Lauren?

LAUREN: Yellow tomatoes?

ME: No, it’s not yellow tomatoes. 

EMMA: I don’t want to try!

ME: Emma, just leave it on your plate if you don’t want it. I’ll eat it later.

SAM:  Is it a pepper?

ME:  It’s not a pepper.  It’s a yellow squash.

LAUREN: I was gonna guess that!

ME: It kind of looks like zucchini, but it’s yellow.  Ok.  What does it smell like; the yellow squash? 

EMMA: Lalalalalalalalal

ME: Emma?  It’s ok. You don’t have to eat it.

SAM: It smells like rotten cheese.

ME: OK. What do you think, Lauren?

LAUREN: It just fell in my lap! That’s a hot burning squash on me!

ME: Are you ok?  Did it drop down? Did you burn yourself?

EMMA: It’s Hot!

ME: So why don’t you guys smell it?

LAUREN: I did already.

ME: What do you think it smells like?

LAREN: Cheese.

ME: You think it smells like cheese, too?  What do you think it smells like, Emma?

EMMA: It smells like garbage.

ME: Ok.  Is that nice or not nice?

SAM: Not nice.

ME: That’s not nice.  Do we say those things at the dinner table?

SAM: I think rotten cheese smells like raw cheese.

ME: Yeah, well that’s why they call some raw cheese stinky cheese.

EMMA: Mommy!

ME: What?

EMMA: This smells like….this smells like a butterfly.
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golden beets_FeedMeDearly

Since I cooked the red beets last time (a mystery food failure), I thought I’d try the kids with golden beets. And this time, I’d be a little more strategic and make them into something that’s a little more familiar…chips. The kids love kale chips, so I figured this wouldn’t be too far removed. Their response was lukewarm – initially positive, then we trended hard and fast to the dreaded no way, no how, never again territory. Fortunately peas came to the rescue.

ME: Hey guys, guess what I made?

LAUREN: Beets.

ME: Yeah.  They’re chips I made with beets.


ME: Do you want to try them?  Because you didn’t love beets last time, but maybe you’ll like beets this time if they’re in a chip form.  So Lauren’s eating the golden beets.

SAM: Me, too.

ME: Yeah, I’m going to have one, too.

[tasting the chips]

ME: What do you guys think?

LAUREN: Yummy.

SAM: Yummy.

ME: Yummy?  No, way! 

SAM: It tastes like real chips.

ME: It tastes like real chips?  Pretty awesome, right?  And, they’re made from beets.  Emma, do you want to try?

LAUREN: I like the red one more (I threw in a few red ones for comparison).

ME: Yeah?  The golden ones are bigger so they’re a little chewier on the inside, but they’re pretty good right?  Would you eat a whole bowl of those?

LAUREN: Of the red ones.

ME: Of the red ones?  Guess how many beets are in this.

SAM: Eleven.
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