Everyone has a picky eater in their life. Heck, it’s entirely possible that you were once a picky eater. Not every bacon lover starts out as a ravenous gourmand with an insatiably adventurous palate. Many of us start out as ordinary children who have a deep suspicion of any food that is new, or green, or simply not covered in cheese sauce. Kids can be notoriously difficult to cook for because of their limited tastes and their reluctance to try something different.

Of course, picky eaters don’t just come in pint-sized form. Many people retain their limited eating habits well into adulthood. My boyfriend, for instance, still looks at vegetables like foreign objects, and will only eat them if I manage to hide or disguise them inside more familiar foods. Whether old or young, we’re all going to run into a picky eater sooner or later, and, inevitably, we’re all going to have to cook for them.

Luckily, we happen to have an ace up our sleeves: bacon. Few foods can boast the universal appeal, the sheer irresistibleness that bacon brings to the table. Bacon is the smart chef’s secret weapon in the war against pickiness. Here are just a few ways that bacon can take dishes usually abhorred by picky eaters and turn them into a delectable meal that even the most difficult dinner guest cannot resist.

Bacon and Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar

Ah, brussels sprouts, the food most likely to be at the top if a picky eater’s most hated list. Kids have been avoiding brussels sprouts for generations. This very healthy green has a slightly bitter taste that can make those with sensitive palates run. However, with the addition of bacon, this can be a dish that has people begging for seconds! The balsamic vinegar caramelizes and the sprouts cook, imparting a rich sweetness, and the bacon adds a deep smoky flavour that effectively transforms this veggie from gross to gourmet.

Broccoli and Bacon Salad

Second only to brussels sprout, broccoli is another vegetable that makes picky eaters turn up their noses. I find this dark green veggie absolutely delicious myself, but some people can’t stand it. If simply steaming some broccoli, covering it in cheese sauce, or adding it to a stir-fry doesn’t please your picky eater, this bacon and broccoli salad is sure to tempt them. With sweet grapes, crunchy onions, and a generous helping of bacon, this is a salad that’s sure to have your guests salivating.

Pasta with Peas and Bacon

Few kids are immediately enamoured with peas. Even though they are quite sweet, and many grow to love them, they are a green food, which immediately arouses suspicious among the picky. However, when peas are combined with pasta, creamy sauce, and crumbled pieces of crispy bacon, even being green can’t keep this dish from being irresistible. This dish reveals one of the essential rules of cooking for picky eaters: as long as it is combined with bacon and covered in cheese, anyone will eat it.