From cotton candy grapes to bubbleberries, here are some fun ways to get your kids eating more fruit and veg.
Grapes that taste like fairy floss and mini cucumbers that taste (slightly) like lemon. No, you’re not dreaming. These exist and make for great options if you want to expand your fruit and veg horizons. Unusual varieties and interesting hybrids of bog-standard produce may also tempt your kids to eat more of the good stuff. Intrigued? Scroll on!
Cotton candy grapes
Most kids already like the taste of ordinary grapes. However, if you need that extra push to increase their fruit consumption—or would simply enjoy a bit of nostalgia yourself—why not try these grapes that taste like cotton candy/fairy floss?
A US horticulturalist has cleverly cross-bred different grape varieties to create little drops of sugary bliss. They look like fruit and taste like a carnival; what more could you want?
You’re probably wondering if cotton candy grapes are too much of a good thing. Well, rest assured that the grapes are not genetically modified. Also, despite the fact they have about 12% more sugar than regular grapes, they’re still better for your health than your typical lolly. You can’t really go wrong with anything that increases your fruit intake.
I was a bit sceptical at first, but in the spirit of adventure (and the fact my colleague had some lying around), I recently decided to give these grapes a go. I’ll describe my experience using sommelier-speak … because what are grapes if not really young wine, amirite? They had a floral bouquet with subtle hints of school fete—followed by an aggressive, sickly-sweet finish. In other words, from “yippee” to “yuck” in sixteen seconds.
But that’s just the opinion of one discerning adult with a very mature palate. Children would most likely adore cotton candy grapes. And anyway, I prefer my fairy floss the traditional way: pink, fluffy and smushed all over my face. So much for that mature palate.
These days we consider pink-fleshed watermelons the norm and any other coloured flesh the exception. However, did you know that the original watermelons cultivated in Africa were yellow? Once they became popular they were bred to be higher in lycopene (a carotenoid that gives the red colour and is thought to help reduce cardiovascular risks and certain cancers). They were gradually turned redder over time, resulting in the common watermelon variety we see today.
So, what makes the yellow watermelon different from the standard dark-pink variety? In terms of taste, yellow watermelons tend to be a little sweeter and taste a bit like honey. As mentioned, pink watermelons lack lycopene. But they compensate by being higher in beta-carotene—an antioxidant that may reduce certain cancers and help promote eye health. So, pink or yellow? Either way, you can’t lose!
Kids will love yellow watermelons for the novelty value alone. Not to mention the slightly different, sweeter flavour. If you bring a yellow watermelon home, give the kids a fun surprise by not telling them its colour until you nonchalantly cut into it and reveal the liquid sunshine within!
In case you were feeling a tad bored of strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, elderberry—and any other fruit ending in “-berry”—why not give these berries a whirl?
With its white flesh and red seeds, this berry looks like a reverse strawberry. Pineberries taste a bit like pineapple, hence the name.
Resembling a small strawberry, the bubbleberry combines berry flavours with a hint of bubble gum.
This variety of strawberry has a raspberry-like appearance, with a raspberry taste to go with it. Want to grow your own? Here are some tips from Bunnings.
What about the vegetables? Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the vegetables?
Yes, yes. I hear you. It’s all well and good for me to bang on about ways to get kids to eat more fruit when kids generally tend to like fruit anyway.
So, with the low-hanging fruit (pun intended) done and dusted, let’s turn our focus towards the more contentious food group: vegetables. Here are some interesting vegetable-hybrids that may just be enticing enough to avoid disguising from the kiddies.
These are technically not a hybrid. But with the size of a grape, the look of a watermelon, and the taste of cucumber (with citrusy hints), cucamelons are definitely hybrid in spirit.
Cucamelons (aka mouse melons, Mexican sour gherkins and pepquinos) are native to Mexico and other parts of Central America. Apparently, they are easy to grow—check locally for any stockists of the seeds.
The aesthetically-pleasing romanesco broccoli is also known as the math-lover’s vegetable. If that doesn’t lure the kiddies in, what will? In the same family as cauliflower and cabbage, the romanesco broccoli’s freakish good looks and slightly sweet taste may be enough to appeal to even the most avid of vegetable-haters.
But what’s this supposedly fascinating connection to maths, you ask? Well, it’s to do with a mathematical concept called the Fibonacci Sequence. In this idea, the next number in a sequence is always the sum of the previous two numbers; e.g. 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and so on. In relation to the romanesco broccoli, if you count the spirals in one direction and then back in the other direction, the number of spirals will correspond to the numbers in the Fibonacci Sequence. Cool, huh?
Let me pose the following question: what do you get when you cross brussels sprouts with kale?
Answer 1: Dry-retching.
Answer 2: A flood of hipsters.
(Proper) Answer 3: Brusselkale (or “kalettes” if you’d prefer to avoid any reference to brussels sprouts).
This lovely brussels sprouts and kale hybrid made its debut in the UK and is currently marketed under the brand name “Lollipops” in America. This is probably an optimistic, if rather misleading, designation. Sure, brusselkale has a slightly sweet tinge to it, but it’s no competition for Chupa Chups.
If you’re brave enough to introduce the brusselkale to kids who are slightly vegetable-phobic, you may need to resort to the tried and true hide-the-vegetables method.
However, if your kids are a bit more open-minded about green things and would enjoy a crunchy, sweet and slightly nutty-tasting treat, try this. Simply season some brusselkale with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and throw into the oven for about fifteen minutes—or until crispy on the ends. Yum!
Have your kids tried any of these? How did it go down (if at all)? Let us know in the comment section below—or click here if you need some more ‘conventional’ food ideas.