My nephew Ryan is a super finicky eater. So when I babysit him, I have to be very strategic about what I make for dinner. Anything too unfamiliar will be rejected outright, but I always try to push the envelope a little bit and nudge him gently past his comfort zone.
On this particular night, I decided to make chicken cutlets, safe territory, but topped with arugula and cherry tomatoes. I laid out the groceries on the kitchen counter and told him what we were having for dinner.
He pointed accusingly at the small carton of cherry tomatoes, "What's that?"
"Tomatoes", I replied nonchalantly.
He shook his head, "But I don't like tomatoes. I only like chicken, rice with ketchup, broccoli and pizza."
"Ok, but did you know that you can make ketchup in your mouth?"
"Huh?" I had his attention now.
"Ketchup is made from tomatoes. If you chew tomatoes, you can make ketchup in your mouth! You wanna try?"
"I don't know...", he was skeptical.
I popped a tomato in my mouth. Jada ate one too. "Mmmm! 'Matoe!", she said as she chewed and reached for another.
Ryan reluctantly put one in his mouth and started to chew.
"See?" I told him. "Ketchup, right?"
He still didn't look convinced. So I tried a new tactic. While he was still chewing, I sat him down at the little table that I had set up for he and Jada in the kitchen. "Here." I put a plate of tomatoes in front of him and handed him a butter knife. "You wanna help me cook?"
Ryan went to work cutting the tomatoes while I prepared the chicken cutlets.
The cutlets didn't take long and when I put all of the ingredients together and gave him a plate of his own, he sat down with Jada and said proudly, "I made this!" and picked up his fork and proceeded to eat, uncohersed.
"You like it, Ryan?" I smiled.
"I'm eating chicken with ketchup!", he replied with a full mouth, still defiant.
"Ok. Good job!"
He gave me a thumbs up and proceeded to clean the plate.