Sometimes readers get the wrong idea about my blog–nope, I’m not serving my kids squid every night (just the occasional fried calamari or grilled). Instead I’m all about raising adventurous eaters.

Children tend to be miniature explorers by design. I’m just trying to tap into that through their stomachs. As a parent, it’s a way for us to share something together. I may get a bored playing Littlest PetShop for hours on end with my 7 year-old, but making calzones together, that’s something we both enjoy.

During the week, I’ll be sharing some recipes and guest posts about my blog’s namesake, squid. Now you don’t have to do these recipes with squid–chicken, pork or even tofu can be stand-ins–but I hope you’ll follow along to learn something more about what might be a new-to-you ingredient, cooking technique, or even an inspiration to try yet again for your kids to sample a food they’ve declared “yucky” in the past (I’m not talking squid here, spinach used to fall into that category around here).

So how do you jumpstart your child’s tastebuds? I have a few unconventional ideas.

Shop at a new grocery store. Okay, this might not be that unusual, but I’ve found that our favorite grocery stores often aren’t always around the corner. Google local seafood, vegetable, Asian, and/or Mexican markets to find new places to shop. Take the kids. We bought our squid by the pound at an Asian market in what used to be a mall. The person in front of us in line bought pounds of squid and tilapia and other seafood so my kids saw we weren’t the only ones!
Let them cook. That’s how my daughter came up with banana hot dogs. Give them a variety of ingredients, see what they come up with. If you’re willing to try their creations, they’ll be more willing to try yours. (And yes, this can be very scary.)

Try out a new restaurant. Chains don’t count.

Mix new with the old. When I’m trying to entice my kids to sample a new curry recipe, I pair it with plain rice, naan, or another food I know they’ll like and it. I serve it in small ramekins too to avoid that whole it-touched-my-rice/noodles/green beans issue. A new food isn’t nearly as intimidating if it’s served in small portions.
Refuse to share. Then share. I can’t tell you how many times, “Oh, you won’t like this” led to my kids trying, then asking for something I was sure they wouldn’t eat.

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