Recipe By Healthy Eating For Families By: Jodie Shield, RD For generations, kids have tried to convince their parents that vegetables taste bad. According to a new study, they just might be right. Researchers have discovered that there really is a "picky-eater" gene. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that 70 percent of the preschool-age kids tested were bitter-sensitive. In other words, bitter foods such as broccoli and cucumber, have a very unpleasant taste to them. But hold your fork! The study offers hope for picky eaters. When bitter-sensitive kids were offered broccoli with either a low-fat or original ranch dip or ranch sauce, they ate 80 percent more then when they were given plain broccoli. And as a Registered Dietitian (RD), I was thrilled to see that the findings held true regardless of the fat content of the dip. Kids consumed just as many vegetables with low-fat ranch dressing as they did with a full fat version - good news for parents concerned about offering kids too much fat. So how do you know if your child -or you - has the bitter-sensitive gene? You can purchase P.T.C Paper strips. They're inexpensive and you only have to conduct the test once. Here's how it works. Simply lay a small,rectangular strip across the center of the tongue. If the paper is tasteless, you are bitter-insensitive; if it tastes bitter, you're bitter-sensitive. However, I must warn you. Make sure you have a glass of water handy. When I conducted the test on my son, Michael (age 18), he was so bitter-sensitive he started to gag! Nothing dangerous, he said it just tasted nasty! What I found interesting about Mike being bitter-sensitive is that he eats plenty of vegetables and loves broccoli. That's because, bitter-sensitivity reaches its peak around age six. As we get older, we learn to enjoy vegetables. How does this happen? It's called repeated exposure. Studies have found that parents have to offer (not force or bribe) vegetables to kids several times - at least 13 to 20. But the key to out-growing bitter-sensitivity is that kids actually have to taste the vegetable. So as a rule of thumb, I recommend that you encourage your kids to taste the vegetable, and if they really don't like it, let them politely remove it from their mouth with a napkin and throw it away. For more tips about getting kids to try vegetables check out some of my other blogs such as How To Raise a Vegetable Lover. As a matter of full disclosure, I have partnered with Hidden Valley Ranch on the Love Your Veggies campaign for several years. I was thrilled when I read this study because it validated something that I had been recommending for years with actual scientific proof. Plus, It's helpful - and a relief - for parents to know that there is a reason why their kids might not eat broccoli and other bitter foods. With a little time, patience and ranch dip, you can help your kids get the nutrients they need to grow and develop into veggie lovers. So is your child bitter-sensitive?