Sunday, May 19, 2013

Increasing Vegetable Appeal / Homemade Cocoa Roast Almonds

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New findings suggest that adding a small sprinkle of sugar* to vegetables increases their appeal and the amount of green vegetables that children will eat. The study tried different bitter maskers, and found that sweetness boosted appeal of the vegetables in 2 of 3 preschoolers. The idea being that over time, you could stop sweetening the vegetables and the kids will continue to enjoy them.  

I am torn by this idea… on the one hand I pride my adventurous eaters and their ability to try new things. On the other, I know many parents are not so lucky (and we struggle sometimes too). In fact, I am reminded that my son disliked almonds until we discovered the Emerald Nuts Cocoa Roast Almonds, and now he happily eats even regular almonds. I wonder if sugar helped boost the appeal??

My main problem with Emerald Nuts Cocoa Roast Almonds is that they contain acesulfame-K and sucralose. I am wary of most artificial sweeteners for use in children (and adults). Some artificial sweeteners have been found to cause harmful effects in animals at large amounts, alter beneficial microflora, and all still cause the same insulin release of regular sugar. For this reason, I spent some serious hours in the kitchen this weekend trying to perfect a homemade recipe and finally have one!

Homemade Cocoa Roast Almonds
  •  2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 Tablespoons coconut sugar (nutrient rich and low-glycemic index) or white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. Preheat oven to 250F. 
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly grease, and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. 
  4. Whisk maple syrup, salt, coconut sugar and cocoa powder into the egg mixture.
  5. Add the nuts and fold in until thoroughly coated.
  6. Pour coated nuts out onto prepared baking sheet and spread out evenly.
  7. Bake for 1 hour, stirring nuts 2 to 3 times.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Kid approved!

*In the vegetable study the researcher used an aspartame solution, but I would recommend using sugar


  1. This is great! I'm going to try it.

    1. They are wonderful! When they came out of the oven and we tried them, my son asked if he could have some for a snack right NOW!