Have you ever noticed that kids eat certain foods at certain times? For example, my toddler son would want nothing but fruit for a day, then protein, then dairy, then veggies and so on. He would not eat the way I thought he "should", eating a balanced meal, three times a day. Sometimes he would get stuck on dairy for two or three days. If I paid attention, usually shortly thereafter he would grow. However, he still didn't eat as much vegetables as I wanted him to eat.
One day, while at a party at a friends house, I noticed him attacking the vegetable platter. It was crazy! He was eating carrots, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, jicama! It didn't matter - he tried every last vegetable on the platter. Sure, he snacked on chips and the other less healthy snacks on the table, but he ate plenty of roughage that day too.
Well, time passes and I get to one of those times when he is eating nothing but apple juice and Cheerios. I was at wits end trying to get the boy to eat (not to mention get past the constipation!) anything healthy. Suddenly I remembered that party! I went to my kitchen and grabbed all of the tasty, raw vegetables I had in the house and started chopping. I set them around the edge of the plate in an aesthetically pleasing manner and placed a ramekin of dressing in the middle. I walked out and placed it in the center of the dinning room table and casually walked away.
The boy noticed. He walked over and asked "What's this?" So I casually looked down and said "Hors D'oeuvres!" A smile came across his face and he asked "Can I have some???" Why yes, yes you can.
Small children, I promise, are willing to taste and try anything if you offer it (and don't add any of your issues into the offering). Sure, each individual has a preference and a dislike for certain tastes and textures. The key is to give them a variety and see what those things are for themselves. How are they supposed to know if they like mushrooms if they are never allowed to try them? Yeah, I get that you don't like them, but I promise they have their own preferences already built in. Sometimes they are even more willing to try things at friends houses, the key is to pay attention and offer those things at home.
For me, I noticed that my kids liked raw vegetables better than cooked. So if I was making spinach patties for dinner or some other vegetable that had a strong taste or a mushy consistency, I was flexible. My kids had to at least try the new food. If it was something I was sure they wouldn't like, I was willing to offer some cut up raw veggies instead. But sometimes, just sometimes, they actually liked the cooked vegetable. Spanikopita?! My son who hated spinach, couldn't get enough of it! It was the only way he would eat spinach! I would have never known had I not implemented the one bite rule. Go give it a try! You may end up with a freak of nature kid who orders a salad when he eats out. I did! It was the only thing I was sure he would eat at a new restaurant!