Sunday, December 28, 2014

First blog - how to get kids to eat fish

Having married into Chicago's premier fish family 37 years ago, I've had a lot of time to absorb information about choosing and cooking fresh fish and shellfish. Now, through the wonders of the internet, I'm able to share my knowledge with anyone who wants to learn about topics like:

  • How to get your kids to eat (and enjoy) fish
  • Great fish choices for entertaining
  • How to tell if fish is fresh
  • What are the health benefits of eating fish (a huge topic!)
  • Where does our fish come from in the Chicago area
  • Why we should stop being afraid of farmed fish
  • Why we should support sustainable fisheries
And a whole lot more.

Now for my first topic: Getting kids to eat fish

Fish was among our children's first solid food - we bought a baby food grinder, and pretty much fed them what we were eating, unless it was spicy or hard to digest.
     Because it has no connective tissue like that found in red meat, fish is highly digestible for young children. Our kids loved their ground up cod, catfish, salmon and sea bass.  When they were three and four, they started joining us for raw oysters at New Years.
     Then our former next door neighbor "Bob" told our kids (around 4 and 5) and several other neighborhood kids that he would never eat fish, because "fish stinks."  Suddenly our kids didn't want to eat fish. The neighbor's daughter across the street told her mother that she didn't want fish either. So her mom, the next time she served fish, called it Hawaiian chicken, and her daughter ate it.
     The one fish our children still would eat was catfish, so all our fish became some kind of catfish - Alaskan catfish, Hawaiian catfish, Boston catfish - they got suspicious and eventually figured it out, but they ate it. Now as young adults, they love it all - and our daughter's husband is pesca-vegetarian, so they eat a LOT of fish.
     So my advice:

  1. Start them young - kids who eat real food ground in a baby food grinder are more likely to be healthy eaters as they grow up. Both our kids had friends who would eat almost nothing healthy - I'm convinced that bland bottled baby food makes children react negatively to foods that have flavor. All kids are different - but if you eat healthy and give them what you eat, that's a good start.
  2. Choose milder fish to start with - cod is a good one. Lake perch is good for kids, breaded and sauteed and served with some tartar sauce, or whitefish. 
  3. Use kid friendly recipes - we have some great ones on our web site: Crumby Scrod was our kids favorite, and our Fresh Fish Fingers was a recipe submitted by a customer, the winning entry in our cooking contest for kid-friendly recipes.  
  4. Sometimes you have to use subterfuge -- if there's something you really want them to try, tell them it's "only for grown-ups."  Nothing is more attractive than forbidden fruit.
How did you get your kids to eat something that they thought they didn't like, but it turned out that they did? You'll be doing your children a huge favor by introducing them to healthy eating at an early age.

How to get your kids to eat fish

first blog post - testing