Appeal to the health-conscious, yet less adventurous eaters in your family by touting the benefits of mushrooms as a healthy diet staple. Mushrooms are a naturally fat-free food and low in calories. Although the nutritional contents of the different types of mushrooms vary, most are high in several B vitamins, as well as the essential nutrients of zinc, potassium, and iron. Mushrooms are high in fiber, a nutrient that helps regulate your digestive system, protects you against some types of cancer, and lowers your risk of diabetes.
Children who are picky eaters are more likely to eat a certain food if they're involved in the selection process and preparation of the food. Mushrooms are no exception. If the texture of the fungi is keeping your family member from enjoying mushrooms, begin a quest to find a texture that works for him or her. Select the porcini variety if you're looking for a crunch. Pioppini or shimeji mushrooms are firmer varieties. Choose Portobello or shiitake mushrooms if your picky eater enjoys a chewier texture and a full-bodied flavor on his or her plate.
Keep your children interested in mushrooms by asking them to help you clean and prepare them. Mushrooms should be cleaned in water briefly just before cooking to ensure they retain their flavor and texture. Even young children can detach the stems from the caps of cremini and similarly shaped mushrooms without a knife. Offer sliced mushrooms as a pizza topping, dipping agent, or stir fry side dish to entice your family.
Tricks of the Trade
Pickiness to the nth degree may call for some top secret tricks of the trade to help your family meet its nutritional needs. Chop finely and mix them into pasta sauces or ground meats like burger patties or meatloaf. Slip mushrooms into entrees that are difficult to pick around, such as casseroles, meat and pastry pockets, or soups. Or, be bold and serve them in full sight, but with a cheese sauce to disguise the taste. Over time, you may convert another picky eater to a mushroom lover.
Discuss the dangers of picking wild mushrooms with your family, as many types of wild mushrooms are highly poisonous if ingested. Unless you're trained in identifying the good from the bad, impress upon your children that they should only eat mushrooms that come from a safe source. Grocery stores and farm stands provide your family with safe and nutritious foods, while mushrooms growing on the side of the road or in your backyard are most likely unfit for consumption.