Home Science and Nature Why Smiley-Faced Potatoes Could Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables, According to Science

Why Smiley-Faced Potatoes Could Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables, According to Science

by News7

Credit: Ezume Images/Shutterstock

There are right ways and wrong ways to get your kids to eat their veggies, whether it’s starting a “veggie happy hour,” sneaking peas into their mac and cheese (this will probably backfire), or making them clean their plate (don’t do this). 

A recent study offers parents a new and unusual approach: the fried “smiley face” potato. In the study, 65 children between the ages of 7-13 were served mixed peas and carrots as part of their lunch. Additionally, some kids were given diced potatoes, others a dinner roll, and the remainder were served a smiley-face tuber. Results showed that those served the grinning root vegetable ate more of their veggies than those served the other two sides. 

The Alliance for Potato Research and Education funded the study, so naturally, we’re skeptical of research designed to fill the pockets of the potato pushers in Idaho. But as someone who struggles to get his kids to eat their vegetables, I’m willing to try anything to get more nutrition in them.

My experiment Last week, I conducted my own extremely unscientific study using these smiley-faced fries with my boys, ages five and seven, as the subjects. Below is a daily summary of the results—which were surprising, to say the least. 

MondayEntree: Zucchini Slice

My boys were surprised to see their food smiling back at them, but neither was particularly fond of the potato’s taste. I assume that was my fault, as I last made french fries when I worked at McDonald’s in high school. 

This aversion carried over to the vegetables on their plate: a mixed vegetable medley of corn, carrots, peas, and green beans. When I asked them if they had eaten their veggies so I could confirm what I already knew, my oldest son proudly stated he didn’t touch them. My youngest declared he ate a carrot, but this claim is under investigation as there were no witnesses to the alleged consumption. 

However, the joke is on them because, as its name implies, “zucchini slice” has lots of zucchini. They simply don’t care. The cheddar cheese and bacon in this unusual breakfast-like meal gets all the attention, making it a staple in our home. 

TuesdayEntree: Lasagna

Tuesdays are usually hectic in our house as my boys have swim practice into the late evening. Usually, we make something quick like leftovers or spaghetti, but my wife had prepped a lasagna several nights before so that we could eat a little fancier this week. Go meal prep!

For the potatoes, I used this recipe as my guide because of how badly things went yesterday, so they were better received. That’s good because everything else on their plate wasn’t. Even my wife agreed that the lasagna recipe was a little bland. My children had several bites of the veggie medley, though I believe my oldest ate his out of spite and not because it was good for him. I guess I can consider this a win. 

WednesdayEntree: Garlic Parmesan Chicken

“Can I eat peas whole?” my oldest son asked us over dinner as he popped one in his mouth. I tried to contain my shock as I answered his question, then looked at my wife from across our dinner table to mouth a silent, “What the f—?” He was eating vegetables. Voluntarily.

Alongside the veggie medley (my wife thinks that consistency is a factor in the success of this experiment) was a slow cooker meal I found online that I honestly did not expect to go over well, but my oldest asked for seconds. My youngest also ate his veggies, but neither were devouring them. I’m not concerned with the amount of vegetables they’re eating. I’m just happy it’s happening.

ThursdayEntree: Macaroni and cheese

Since the experiment worked when they were trying new things, I decided to give my boys a popular dinnertime staple: macaroni and cheese. The main dish was gone in minutes. They didn’t even touch their side dishes, proving that not even the smiley potato can withstand the familiar power of pasta and cheddar. 

FridayEntree: Spinach tortellini in pesto sauce

My boys have eaten this meal since they could chew, so we have it every Friday. But I threw a wrinkle into the experiment: broccoli. The smiley-faced potato might at least prompt my boys to give the dreaded green veggie a chance, but neither touched the single stalk we put on each of their plates. My youngest even began crying when he saw broccoli next to his pasta, so we’ll end this experiment with tears. 

The verdictSmiley, starchy vegetables, and scientific research have given parents another tool to use in the ongoing effort to give their kids more nutrition. It’s not something I’ll do with every meal, but I’m prepared to surprise my kids with potato smiles when I make a new meal, to help it go down a little easier.

Source : LifeHacker

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