A New Year’s Food Challenge: 52 weeks, 52 new foods

A New Year’s Food Challenge: 52 Weeks, 52 New Foods

Fri 21 Dec 2012

Story by Jennifer Tyler Lee

52 weeks, 52 new foods. How one family achieved the most frequently broken New Year’s resolution: to eat healthy.

Battles over broccoli and beans set our family on this path. Like most parents, I struggled to get my kids, ages 3 and 6 at the time, to eat healthy. Bite by bite, the diversity of dishes on our family table narrowed so much that even my husband and I weren't eating very healthy anymore. I wanted our table to be a place of joy and fun for our family – a place where we could gather for great conversation and healthy food together. It all changed when I turned healthy eating into a game.

More points for kale than kiwi, and bonus points for trying a new food, even just a “taster.” With this simple shift, I found my kids begging for Brussels sprouts, and trips to the local market felt more like a scavenger hunt with my kids scurrying from stall to stall searching for new foods to try to rack up points. We were moving in the right direction.

52 Weeks, 52 New Foods

When it came time for New Year’s resolutions, it seemed only natural to take on one simple challenge, together as a family: 52 weeks, 52 new foods.

The children were put in charge of our culinary adventure. Each week they would choose a new food to try and prepare the dish for our weekly “new food” night. I knew that when kids choose and prepare the foods they eat, they are much more likely to enjoy those foods -- even better if they grow it themselves. This simple, singular goal was one that we all agreed would be fun to achieve and easy to remember.

A cornucopia of fruits and vegetables made their debut at our table – from baked persimmon and basil pesto, to romanesco and radicchio. Some recipes flopped and some were voted onto our family favorites list, but each one brought us together to explore, cook, and enjoy new foods as a family. Our 52 New Foods adventure led us to farmers’ markets bubbling over with fresh, local produce, flourishing farm fields, and bountiful school gardens. It sprouted a kid-sized version of a farm-to-table vegetable garden in our backyard.

Challenging the Whole Family

Fifty-two weeks later, I am proud to say that we achieved our goal -- the first time I can say that about one of these infamous resolutions. But the journey was infinitely more important than the destination.

Our 52 New Foods adventure challenged everyone in the family to try something new each week, it encouraged us to start a garden, it brought us together to cook and enjoy healthy food as a family, and it connected us with fellow Food Revolutionaries across the globe.

We learned about where our food comes from, the artisans who work tirelessly to grow it, and how the food choices we make impact our neighborhood and the bigger world around us. We gathered treasured recipes and tips from local farmers’, chefs, friends and family and together we planted, picked, cooked and tasted our way through the year.

My formerly picky eaters now have a stable of recipes that they love to cook, and are spreading the word by teaching their friends how to enjoy simple, wholesome, homegrown food, through a series of garden cooking classes they are hosting at their elementary school. Our adventure has inspired plans for a cookbook. Most importantly, our 52 New Foods adventure planted the seeds of change at our family table and like good gardeners we need to keep nurturing our seedlings with care and love for them to grow into strong, beautiful plants.

As for this coming year, we plan to take our 52 New Foods adventure on tour by sampling and savoring new foods from around the world -- Indian-inspired curries, Italian homemade sauces and pastas, and tapas plates with Spanish flair. With the inspiring group of real food lovers that make up this dynamic and passionate community of Food Revolutionaries, I am certain we will discover many new foods to try and countless recipes to enjoy. We are excited to continue our family food adventure, one week, one meal, at a time. I hope you’ll join us for the ride!

You can tune into Crunch a Color’s 52 New Foods adventure on Twitter, Facebook and Crunch a Color’s weekly recipe blog. Simply follow @crunchacolor and #52NewFoods.

Seasonal Favorites from Crunch a Color’s 52 New Foods

This deliciously simple broiled grapefruit recipe adds a flavorful twist to your family table: a sweet and juicy treat without a drop of refined sugar.

A mini apple pear crisp is the fresh food version of a big warm bear hug! Filled to the brim with sweet, bubbling fresh pears, apples and cranberries, it’s the perfect treat to serve at a cozy winter get-together by the fire with friends and family.

This spiraling spectacle looks like a cross between broccoli and cauliflower, and made a deliciously fun addition to our family table: Romanesco broccoli.

For more easy recipes and to start your 52 New Foods adventure, check out Crunch a Color’s roundup of the best healthy recipes of 2012!

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color -- the award-winning nutrition games that make healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit kids’ nutrition programs. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color; has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Pottery Barn Kids, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, Yum Food & Fun for Kids, and The San Jose Mercury News, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at www.crunchacolor.com.


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