Good Question: Help! I Have the Palate of a Child

Aimee wants to eat a better variety of foods, but she has a problem! Can you help her?

Dear Kitchn, I am looking to start a lifestyle change with eating better and getting more exercise. But I've come across a problem that I need help with: I have the food palate of a child and I'm 22. I've looked through cookbook after cookbook for healthier ways to eat the same foods that I love now, and for more recipes that sound yummy that aren't what a kid would eat.

I was wondering if you and the readers would mind helping me out with this dilemma?

Aimee, you didn't specify the foods that you enjoy, but if you are like some of our own friends who are picky eaters, perhaps your tastes run to pizza, cupcakes, French fries, and chicken fingers?

Here are a few ideas for transitioning from a kid-friendly, high-sugar diet to one that is more home-cooked and "adult" in flavors.

Start simple, and start with pasta. Pasta is still starchy and very comforting. Almost every kid likes pasta, right? Start with plain pasta, with a little olive oil. Try a couple of good olive oils, and see how the flavors bloom on hot pasta. Then add some cheese. Maybe try a few fresh herbs (chopped parsley, or minced chives). When your palate adjusts to those, try steaming or sautéing a little spinach to toss with the pasta, then work in some meat. Build on pasta as a basic template.

Start with foods one at a time. Like with the pasta, don't attempt big, complicated dishes all at once. Learn how to cook simple, juicy chicken breasts and use the freshest chicken you can. Learn to appreciate the simple, delicious taste of plain chicken then add additional ingredients as you feel comfortable.

• Find one or two vegetables you like. Start simple. Fresh, cold, cucumbers — peeled and lightly salted — are totally refreshing and delicious. Or what about grape tomatoes? Start with easy, tasty vegetables. And if you have the space or time, try a garden, or find garden-fresh vegetables! They're a revelation and much more delicious than supermarket veggies.

OK readers, any other thoughts? Did you ever make a similar transition?

Related: Tell Us: What Food Takes You Back to Your Childhood?

(Image: Aimee via email)

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