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How to Help Your Child Learn to Eat Black-Eyed Peas

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Ryan gets picked up every afternoon by his older sister. Together they walk home, eat a snack, and do after school-work. Ryan’s sister prepares the snacks and likes to be creative. The most recent afternoon snack was black-eyed pea hummus. The siblings love hummus with carrots, so Ryan’s sister thought it would be fun to try it with black-eyed peas. When Ryan saw the snack, he became very uncomfortable and began crying. Ryan’s sister tried to reason that this dip was similar to the one they loved to eat, but Ryan began to feel so scared. He closed his eyes until it was put back into the kitchen.

Feeding picky kids can be challenging for families, and we want to help you navigate food battles. The road to reversing picky eating is long, and we are here to help you! Here’s our guide to help you teach your kid to eat black-eyed peas. You’ll learn:

Related: Join BetterBites – the best selling course for the families of picky eaters

How to Serve Black-Eyed Peas to Picky Eaters

When serving food to a child, we recommend not putting pressure on them to eat it. Remember how Ryan’s sister tried to reason with him? Ryan’s sister just wanted to make sure that her sibling had a snack. However, when pressured, Ryan decided not to eat it.

There are many instances where a child may feel pressure to eat. Here are some examples: 

“Your friend likes it, and so will you.” 

“Why don’t you be a good kid and just give it a try?”

“If you take a few bites, I’ll let you play with your new toy!”

Removing the pressure to try a food is an excellent way to help your child learn to like a new food and do so at their own pace.

Another tip for feeding new foods to picky eaters is to offer small, pea-sized portions called micro portions. Micro portions are often less overwhelming for fussy eaters than larger, adult-sized portions. Small portions also help cut down on food waste. Ryan’s sister could have tried offering Ryan a small taste of black-eyed pea hummus on a carrot, rather than a whole container.

Finally, when serving new foods to a selective child, you can try to vary the way you serve the food. If your picky eater was uninterested in the food served one way, try serving it another way next time. Ryan didn’t want to try the hummus, but at another meal, his sister or parents could choose to serve cooked, whole black-eyed peas as a side dish. 

Related: Get our picky eater guide – From Stress to Success: 4 Ways to Help Your Child Eat Better without Losing Your Mind

The Benefits of Black-Eyed Peas for Kids 

Are black-eye peas good for kids and toddlers? They offer many nutrients! Black eyed peas, a type of bean, are also known as Hoppin’ Johns, goat peas and cowpeas. Nutritionally speaking, they are packed with protein, as well as folate (vitamin B9), which aids in growth and development of the muscles and brain. Black-eyed peas also contain fiber, which promotes regular bowel movements and iron, which helps our red blood cells deliver oxygen throughout the body. 

Related: Need recipes with black-eyed peas? Real Easy Weekdays: The Meal Plan for Busy Families

How to Talk About Black-Eyed Peas to Help Your Child Try Them

It is common for picky kids to use negative language when talking about food. “This is yucky!” “You can’t make me eat this!” “It looks like dirt!” This language reinforces their picky behaviors. It also makes it more difficult for them to try new foods. 

Even though your child may use negative language now, you can give them new words to use. Help your child use new words by doing it yourself. This is called modeling. This can be done by using neutral words when speaking about food and during meals. These words aren’t positive or negative. 

If you only use positive words, your picky eater may feel pressured to eat the food. If you use negative words, your picky eater will be less likely to eat it. Neutral words can help your fussy eater learn about a new food and understand that they may learn to like it in the future. 

Changing the way you speak about black-eyed peas won’t change your child’s mind about them overnight. But this is another important step to get your child to eat black-eyed peas in the future. 

Here are some neutral words that describe black-eyed peas:

  • Dense 
  • Dry
  • Earthy
  • Fibrous
  • Creamy
  • Savory
  • Smooth
  • Soft
  • Medium flavor/taste 
  • Small sound

When serving the black-eyed pea hummus, Ryan’s sister could have said, “This black-eyed pea dip is creamy and has a medium flavor.”

How to Talk to Kids About What Black-Eyed Peas Do in Their Bodies

How we talk to kids (picky or not) about food can make it easier or harder for them to try new foods. Telling your child a food is “good for them” may not have the desired effect. The child may decide not to try the food because they didn’t like the last food you said was “good for them.” 

You usually can’t persuade a selective child like Ryan to try a new food. As an alternative, you can talk about what black-eyed peas do in a child’s body. 

This is not a magical fix. Your child may still not want to try something new at the moment. However, this is an important step towards teaching your kid to eat black-eyed peas.

Here are some messages for black-eyed peas. You can come up with your own messages too!

Age 0-3: Black-eyed peas help your muscles grow. 

Age 3-5: Black-eyed peas have protein, which helps your brain, heart and other muscles grow strong.

Age 6-11: The protein in black-eyed peas helps your brain grow and your heart beat. Black-eyed peas also help send oxygen all over your body, which gives your muscles energy. 

Age 12-18: Black-eyed peas are a type of bean that provides protein to help you grow, fiber to keep your bowel movements regular, and iron to help deliver oxygen to your entire body.

The next time Ryan’s sister wants to have black-eyed pea hummus, she can say, “Black-eyed peas are beans. Beans help your body grow.”

Black-Eyed Peas Food Play Activity

Food play can help picky kids try new foods. Learning to like a new food can include looking at it, touching it, smelling it, and eventually tasting it. 

Food play activities also help to desensitize the body’s sensory system. A new sense in the brain may be perceived as a danger and automatically trigger the fight or flight system. To “desensitize” means that your child’s body becomes more used to the food. That way, when they are served the food, it doesn’t seem so icky to them. Remember how Ryan was scared of the black-eyed pea hummus? When a child’s body and brain get used to the food, it isn’t as scary to them, and the child may learn to like it.

Food activities can be simple, like comparing two foods of the same color. It can also include your child helping to prepare food with you. Food activities can also be more elaborate if you have more time.

Black-eyed pea activities won’t get your child to like them immediately. The process can take a long time. Children may have to go through many stages of being with black-eyed peas, including looking at them, smelling them, tasting them, and touching them. Start where your child is comfortable, which may only be looking at and smelling the food if they are more selective or fussy. Then, work up to the touching and tasting activities.

Here is one example of a food activity with black-eyed peas your child can try called Black-Eyed Peas Bean Tic Tac Toe. While playing, you can discuss with your child the difference between the bean shapes and colors. 

If you need more food activity ideas broken down by age of child (0 to 10-years-old) and stage of learning to like new foods, you may enjoy our food activities guide: Food Play Every Day.

Black-Eyed Peas & Bean Tic Tac Toe

Materials

  • 9 canned black-eyed peas, rinsed and dried
  • 9 canned red beans (or other bean), rinsed and dried
  • Something to write with like crayon, marker, etc. 
  • Paper

Steps

  1. Rinse and dry the beans. Set aside.
  2. Using a crayon (or other writing device), draw a tic tac toe board on your piece of paper.
  3. Gather the black-eyed peas and red beans and play!

Note: If not using canned beans, make sure to cook the beans to avoid choking hazard. You can substitute with any bean you have on hand. 

For variations and more ideas, get Food Play Every Day: 102+ Food Activities for Kids!

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About Kids Eat in Color

Kids Eat in Color gives parents the tools they need to teach their kids to eat veggies and try foods without a battle! From introducing new foods to a picky eater, to reducing meal-time stress, to taking off some of the burdens of meal planning, shopping, and cooking, we are here for parents. 

Author

Lauryn Woodruff

Reviewers

Jennifer Anderson, MSPH, RDN

Alli Delozier, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Laura Petix, M.S., OTR/L

Erinn Jacobi, M.S., OTR/L

Stefanie Kain, B.S., M.Ed

References

van der Horst, Klazine, Denise  M. Deming, Ruta Lesniauskas, B. Thomas Carr, and Kathleen  C. Reidy. “Picky Eating: Associations with Child Eating Characteristics and Food Intake.” Appetite, volume 103. ScienceDirect, April 24, 2016. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666316301568.

“Health Benefits of Black Eyed Peas.” Reviewed by Dan Brennan.Nourish by WebMD. WebMD, August 22, 2020. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-black-eyed-peas.

Link, Rachael. “Black-Eyed Peas (COWPEAS): Nutrition Facts and Benefits.” Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler. Healthline, January 20, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/black-eyed-peas-nutrition.

“Folate: Fact Sheet for Consumers.” National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 22, 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-Consumer/.

“Folate (Folic Acid).” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, February 23, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-folate/art-20364625.

“4 Reasons Kids Need Folate: The Veggie Nutrient with a Capital B.” Vegy Vida, September 28, 2016. https://vegyvida.com/4-reasons-kids-need-folate/.

Sombié, Pierre Alexandre Eric Djifaby, Moussa Compaoré, Ahmed Yacouba Coulibaly, Jeremy Tinga Ouédraogo, Jean-Baptiste De La Salle Tignégré, and Martin Kiendrébéogo. “Antioxidant and Phytochemical Studies of 31 COWPEAS (VIGNA Unguiculata (l. Walp.)) Genotypes from Burkina Faso.” MDPI. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, September 3, 2018. https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/7/9/143.

Yang, Jing, Hai-Peng Wang, Li Zhou, and Chun-Fang Xu. “Effect of Dietary Fiber on Constipation: A Meta Analysis.” World Journal of Gastroenterology. Baishideng Publishing Group Co., Limited, December 28, 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3544045/.

Cherry, Kendra. “How the Fight or Flight Response Works.” Edited by Steven Gans. The American Institute of Stress, August 18, 2019. https://www.stress.org/how-the-fight-or-flight-response-works.

“Iron: Fact Sheet for Consumers.” National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 22, 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-Consumer/.

Lauryn Woodruff

Lauryn Woodruff is the Nutrition Information Specialist at Kids Eat in Color. She creates content that provides helpful nutrition information for picky eaters. Lauryn has a BS in Nutrition and Food Science and is completing her Dietetic Internship at Virginia Tech University. She enjoys cooking, trying new foods, and being outdoors!

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