Grow Your Palate

5 Ways to Grow Your Palate | By Dr. Penny Wilson

Last Updated: March 16, 2022By

Do you find yourself in a food rut? Eating the same things all the time? Do you crave variety? Do you just want to try some new foods, but don’t know where to start? Are you a “picky eater?” Taking tiny steps to grow your palate can open up a world of tasty possibilities. You don’t have to start big. Just like a flower peeks out of the earth when it is starting to grow, taking tiny steps to explore new tastes can set your palate up for big, exciting changes. If you’ve wanted to try new and different foods, here are 5 tips to get you started.

  1. Try a food you didn’t like as a kid. Did you know that children have more taste buds than adults? This is one reason why you may not have liked certain foods as a child. Just because you didn’t like a food as a kid doesn’t mean you’re destined to dislike it as an adult. Give that food a chance and try it again to see what you think. If you still don’t like it, figure out why – is it the taste, texture, smell, color? If you know the why behind not liking it, you may be able to change it (keep reading for ideas on how to do that). Or, you may be surprised and find out that you DO like it.
  2. Figure out if you’re a “Super Taster.” Super Tasters are those that have a genetic predisposition to find certain foods bitter especially those from the Brassica family like brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage and other foods like grapefruit, coffee, and cilantro. How do you know? If you’ve had your genetics run, look for the SNP TAS2R38 and see what it says. If you haven’t done your genetics you can tell because you find those and other foods bitter. If you are a Super Taster you’re less likely to eat vegetables. If you know you’re a Super Taster, then you can use some of the tips below to get more veggies on your plate (and in your stomach).
  3. Try a new cooking method. Have you tried roasting your veggies? It is a great way to make up a huge batch of veggies to eat and have for later. Chop them up, toss them with some olive oil, salt and pepper, spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees F for 30-45 minutes. Be sure and stir them around at least once. If you’re a Super Taster, roasting those bitter veggies (like brussels sprouts) inactivates the compound that makes them bitter.
  4. Spice things up. Herbs and spices can make cooking a lot of fun. Next time you’re at the store or farmer’s market grab a new spice or herb blend. Spend a couple of minutes looking online on how to use it then DO IT! You may find a new best herby friend. I like to mix in some Herbs de Provence in my roasted veggies from tip 3 above. You can use dried or fresh herbs and all sorts of different spices.
  5. Buy a new food next time you’re in the produce section or the farmer’s market. Have you seen all those “strange” foods in that “special” area of the produce section? Ever wondered what they taste like? Take a step outside your comfort zone and find out. Next time you walk by those bins, search on the web what it is, how to pick a good one, and ideas for preparation. Then, grab one and use it when you get home.

Photo by Arek Adeoye.

Dr. Penny Wilson Penny Wilson, PhD, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She has two focuses: helping people learn about eating to fuel their lives and helping women with digestive issues take control of their symptoms so they can pk-callout a normal life. She loves spending time with her husband, John, and her dogs. She hikes, skis (both alpine and Nordic), bikes, and travels.
Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2018 issue. 

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