5 easy recipes to introduce the 5 taste groups: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami!
Long time readers know that I run a home daycare and one of the parts of my job is sometimes helping introduce young toddlers to new foods, while ensuring that they are receiving adequate nutrition.
Something that is so important to me when starting toddlers on new foods is exposing them to a wide variety of flavours, scents, and textures. When it comes to flavour, sometimes the five taste groups get ignored, or one flavour gets a bit more attention than others. I wanted to share five quick & easy recipes to help you exposure your child to the five tastes (bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and umami) with foods they might actually enjoy!
Here are five easy recipes to help introduce your toddler to all five taste categories!
Sour: Lemon Pancakes
There are so many ways to introduce sour to your children, and lemons are incredibly versatile, too! I decided to opt for lemon pancakes because I know that my kids will gobble them up without a second thought!
- 1 cup pancake mix
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 egg
- 3 Tablespoons yogurt
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl.
Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and add 1/4 cup of pancake batter to the center of the pan. Cook for one to two minutes until the upper side of the pancake is covered in little air holes and the underside is golden brown, and flip. Cook for one to two minutes on the other side and then remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter.
Salty: Rice Congee
Rice Congee is the traditional first food of most Asian children. It’s kind of like a porridge made from rice and, just like porridge, you can mix lots of different foods into your congee to experiment with different flavours.
It might seem intimidating to introduce salty, or to add any additional salt to your child’s food. Just add a touch to introduce it – it may seem barely perceptible to your grown-up tastebuds but it will be more than enough for them.
- 1/2 cup rice
- 3-4 cups water
- Half pinch salt
Bring water and rice to a boil in a pot, and then reduce heat and let simmer until all water is absorbed.
Take the rice off of the heat and mix in salt.
Umami: Mac & Cheese
Umami might sound a bit weird to you – it’s the taste associated with “meaty” flavours and things like cheese and tomatoes that don’t really fit in other categories.
Mac & Cheese is always a hit with kids and adding tomatoes you get two different umami flavours in one dish.
- 1 cup cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup uncooked pasta
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon butter or oil
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
In a pot, melt the butter or oil over medium heat and add the flour. Allow it to brown a bit before stirring in the milk, then the cheese. Mix in the pasta and then remove from heat.
Portion 1/2 cup of pasta into small ramekins for individual servings. You can add the tomatoes now or after baking.
Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.
Sweet: Berry Parfait
Berries are usually sweet enough on their own, but we added a touch of honey to make this parfait a special treat! We used yogurt to help get a bit more protein and it also serves as a clever way to add in a mix-in.
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1/3 cup berries
Bitter: Spinach Sauce
You can make a simple spinach puree or a quick & easy (cheater) spinach dip to help introduce your child to the taste of bitter in a palatable way. I like to sauté & puree spinach and add it into foods they already like, like adding it on top of pasta!
- 1 Tablespoon butter or oil
- 2 generous cups spinach
- 1 clove garlic, optional
- 1/4 onion, optional
Heat the oil over medium heat in a frying pan, and add the spinach (and optional garlic & onions). Sauté until limp and dark green in colour.
Puree the spinach in a blender, add it to sour cream for a cheater spinach dip, or use it to top pizza or pasta.
These easy and delicious recipes are perfect for teaching your child about the five taste groups – no matter their age!