We already knew that we liked brown lentils, but figured that we’d give red lentils a try. When cooked, red lentils fall apart much more easily so they’re not great for lentil salads or other dishes where they need to keep their shape. But they have a wonderful flavor, and a less-gritty texture than brown lentils making them a hit with two of our guys.

Apologies for side-tracking about rum, but this mystery food challenge drove me to the bottle.

ME: Guys, who’s ready to get their mystery food on?

LAUREN: I just tried it.

ME: You can’t try it yet. Hang on until everyone is here. Where’s Fay? Emma get your booty over here.

ME: Guess what we’re trying for mystery food (shakes red lentils), red lentils! Who’s tried red lentils before?

EMMA: Those are chips.

ME: What do they look like?

LAUREN: The littlest cherry tomatoes in the world.

ME: Oh they do.

EMMA: It looks like juice.

ME: Sam what do you think?

SAM: Uh nothing.

ME: Can you believe that when you cook red lentils it turns to this! (shows the brown mound of lentils). Doesn’t it look different?

SAM: That’s glass.

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Purple sweet potatoes

According to the kids, purple sweet potatoes taste just like spaghetti squash. I disagree. While they’re both sweet, they couldn’t be more different in texture. We settled into our familiar pattern: Emma loved it, Lauren tolerated it with a smile on her face, and Sam was completely disinterested. I actually prefer these sweet potatoes to the traditional garnet yams which are a little too cloying. If you haven’t branched out and tried different varieties of sweet potatoes, now’s the time.

ME: OK, so we’re going to try something that looks like this….

LAUREN: Potato!

ME: It’s actually not a potato. Well it’s not a regular potato. OK, it’s starting to drip everywhere!

ME: What does it look like?

LAUREN: Well bigger than a regular potato. And it’s purple.

ME: What color is it going to be on the inside?

ME: Pinkish yellow.

SAM: Green.

ME: It’s purple. I’m going to give each of you a little spoon of it.  Emma, you’re first because you’re a really good taster. What do you think?

LAUREN: It tastes like noodles.

EMMA: I really like it, it tastes like doodle soup.

ME: Like noodle soup? Yeah, it kind of has a starchy flavor doesn’t it.

LAUREN: It tastes like the potato noodles.

ME: What are those?

LAUREN: Remember when you scooped the noodles out?

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Yellow Wax Beans

Mikey’s back. I’m sure you’re relieved. She/He/She was digging into the yellow wax beans like it was her final supper. But the star of the show was Lauren who held up her end of the conversation, asking all kinds of questions about our latest vegetable. Too bad she didn’t like them in the end…

ME: We’ve got a mystery food!

LAUREN: (sings “Let it go” from Frozen)

ME: What are these?

LAUREN: Brussels sprout thingies?

ME: Nope, they’re not Brussels Sprouts.

LAUREN: French Fries.

ME: They’re not that either. They look a bit like them though don’t they.

LAUREN: Uh, baby potato.

ME: OK, you get one, and you get one.

LAUREN: String beans!

ME: Yeah, how did you know? That was awesome that you knew that because they don’t look like string beans with their color. Was  it the smell? What tipped you off?

LAUREN: Well I was like “Oh, there’s this, I know a string bean has that.”

ME: And there’s a long seam along the side right?

LAUREN: Right…so that must be a string bean.

ME: That was good deductive reasoning. So did you try it?

LAUREN: I did.

ME: So does it taste like a regular bean?

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butternut 228

It’s hard for me to admit this, but my kids hate squash. Their only real experience is with butternut, which is probably the least offensive, the  least squashiest of all squash. The word squash is starting to look weird.

I figured if a gateway squash exists, spaghetti squash would be it. Cook it, separate it into strands, and all of a sudden you have something that resembles noodles.

We had one taker. Emma is turning out to be the Mikey of our family. Those of you who grew up in the 80s will remember Mikey. He pimped Life cereal for years. “Let Mikey try it…” Mikey was the youngest, about Emma’s age. These days, Mikey’s probably sporting gray facial hair and a combover, but I respect the guy. He was the kid with a perfect appetite, the kid who would try anything. It took Emma some time to get comfortable with spaghetti squash, but once she did, she channeled her best Mikey. All of a sudden, she was the kid who ate everything.

ME: OK guys, spaghetti squash. Emma I’m going to give you a little bit. Lauren don’t try it yet, I want you to smell it and do all of that first.

EMMA: Eeeewwww….

ME: We don’t say ew in this house. Remember?

EMMA: Ack!

ME: We don’t say ack either.

EMMA: I don’t like it.

ME: I don’t like it is the same thing. We can’t say these things. What does it look like? (I sample a bite).

LAUREN: Hey no fair, you get to eat it before us!

ME: That’s because I’ve had it before.

EMMA: It looks like a banana.

ME: How come?

EMMA: Because it looks like a flower.

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beets 227

Because of our blood orange success, I was convinced that gore was the way to go when introducing bright red fruits and vegetables. I was wrong. I highly, highly recommend that you don’t offer new foods by saying this: “hey kids, we’re doing a mystery food tonight and it’s going to be bloody!”

The beets were rejected pretty quickly. Sam and Emma liked them for a tenth of a nanosecond before deciding that beets were horrible. Talk of garbage came up a few times, which I understand. Beets have a certain earthy quality; getting accustomed to them can take a while.. I’m not down and out on beets yet though… they have potential. Next time I’ll try to spruce them up with a little blood orange juice. We’ll see what happens….

ME: Hey what is this?

SAM: It’s not bloody.

LAUREN: I would guess that it’s reddish black on the inside.

ME: But what is the name of this?

LAUREN: Blood orange?

ME: It’s not blood orange.

EMMA: It looks like a little bit like juice.

ME: A little bit right, it’s really dark red like your red juice.  It’s like solid juice. Like your favorite, like cranberry juice.

EMMA: Yeah, I’ll smell it. (Sniffs) Yummy!

ME: Yummy? Does it smell so good?

EMMA: Yeah.

ME: What does it smell like?

EMMA: I want to eat it.

ME: Well let’s give everyone a chance to smell it first. Sam, what does it smell like?

SAM: Garbage.

ME: What do you think it smells like?

LAUREN: Yummy!

ME: OK, so two yummies and a garbage.

EMMA: I want to eat it!

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