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Vegetables: To Hide or Not to Hide

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I have never been a fan of “hiding” vegetables in our dishes.  I often wondered what would happen when I actually decided to serve up that particular food to my kids; or my husband for that matter! Growing up, my mother just served the food and lovingly (big smile!) asked us to have just one spoonful.  One particular vegetable I can remember completely despising: PEAS! But today, as an adult, I love peas! Was it because my mother insisted on my brothers and I trying them whenever she added them to our menu or was it because I had always known just what was going into my mouth? Who knows! But I can honestly say that I am grateful she did this.  Considering I am not someone suffering from food abnormalities of any kind, her ways of offering different foods in a calm and patient manner, may just have been the ticket for me.  

vegetables to hide or not broccoli soup

  Now, before the comments begin regarding whether it’s ok or not, let me explain how I do “hide” veggies, legumes and fruits.  As far as my children are concerned, I always tell them what I plan on adding into their foods.  For instance, although my daughter eats many of the foods I offer, she still loves her mac-n-cheese! So, instead of going against the grind, I have offered it several ways with added nutrition.  We started from the basics of the box brands and just added cooked broccoli, chopped green beans, peas, carrots, or whatever vegetable she preferred to add.  She tried my brother’s girlfriend’s homemade version and fell absolutely in love! At that point, I knew it was time to move on to pureed vegetables as the base for the sauces.  Now, she just makes it herself and her current favorite recipe is from our site. Neither of my kids are big fans of legumes, I have a sweet tooth, and well, my husband keeps saying he needs to omit sweets from his diet.  With this, I say let’s have our cake and eat it too! My favorite baked goods revolve around adding more goodness such as black beans in brownies, wheat germ, applesauce and pumpkin seeds added to cookies or thawed frozen spinach and squash into muffins.  The kids are always by my side while I bake and are thoroughly aware of what I am doing.  They actually get excited because to them, it’s like a science experiment.  

 bean puree cookies.jpg

  Confession alert! I am not completely innocent.  There was one time I decided to add spinach to tomato sauce and put it into a blender.  My son, who I had just gotten to eat, and like his meatballs, gave me the oddest look and didn’t eat anything once he tasted the sauce.  I told him that I had added spinach and vowed to myself, I would never do that unless both kids were a part of the cooking equation.  Phew! That was a close one and the next time I made meatballs and sauce, I made sure he was with me helping out so he knew exactly what he was eating. At this point, I am pretty certain my daughter truly dislikes cauliflower, bananas and beets.  I know this because I really have tried all different ways of serving them to her and she does try them every time I offer each of them.  My son, on the other hand, is still a work in progress so I am always making him a big part in my meal planning.  What’s funny, unlike my daughter, he loves cauliflower, beets and bananas! He loves to experiment with his smoothies by adding different veggies so he can make them certain colors.  This too, is yet another way to “hide” veggies in the foods we eat and serve. What is the right way? Should we “hide” vegetables, fruits and legumes from our finicky eaters (child or not), or should we just be honest and let them know what we have “hidden” away? Should we rely on just offering those new foods over and over again until those taste buds mature and develop into a true dislike or like? I know I don’t like every single food out there and I am not expecting my kids to either, but I also know it is important to continually offer foods in all different ways, even if it does mean increasing the nutrient density of baked goods and entrées…but I will always make it known!  

kids

  How about you? Do you hide? Please share because you may just help someone with their personal dilemma.


15 Comments

Lauren

I am a big fan of hiding veggies in our foods for a few reasons. First and foremost, we can all afford to eat more of them! If I am able to get not only my children, but also my husband and I to eat more of the less desirable ones (in my family squash is at the top of our list) by hiding the flavor or texture, why wouldnt I?
Second, it has helped me get my children to eat things, like spinach, again. By adding finely chopped spinach and kale to soups and sauces, and telling my children its just fresh parsely, they will now willingly eat it and enjoy it!
I always reveal whatever was hidden at the end of the meal, and my children now mostly expect a “big reveal” after dinner. Getting them to try new things can be tough, but by hiding it then revealing it, does not give them the opportunity to dislike something before they’ve tried it!

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Callie

I do both. We serve them just as they are, add them to smoothies and sauces with the boys completely aware and I sneak them in too. Thankfully mine are pretty good eaters and will take their courtesy bite even if they are weary of what’s in front of them.

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jackie-2

Point well taken about getting them to try it before they dislike it. Thank you for sharing Lauren.

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jackie-2

My older one is always willing to take her bite…and she is always the one who is convincing my son to do the same. Sometimes she prevails, other times we need to wait until he next offering of that food. Thank you for sharing.

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jackie-2

My older one is always willing to take her bite…and she is always the one who is convincing my son to do the same. Sometimes she prevails, other times we need to wait until he next offering of that food. Thank you for sharing.

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Anita

If veggies are new to your kitchen table, then by all means, do what you can to get your kids to like them. Take your kids shopping with you and have them pick out a new veggie they want to try. Have them think of creative ways to serve it, both hot and cold. And, remind them, the more colorful the veggie the more power it packs! Veggies can be the new “super hero” at your dinner table.

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Erica

My son is 20 months and has become rather picky. I hide veggies in everything! I make homemade chicken nuggets with organic cauliflower, peas, spinach and broccoli hidden inside. I also make homemade pizza with veggies finely chopped and hidden under the cheese. He’s too little to understand to just take one bite. As he gets older, I won’t keep it from him bc I don’t want him to think veggies are bad. I also make him organic juice in our Breville juicer. I make a large variety and freeze into ice cubes to make all sorts of combos. He loves spinach/pear and beet/strawberry/carrot. I just take a few cubes, add to his sippy cup with water and let it melt….then shake and serve fresh, healthy no sugar added juice. I do whatever it takes to give him the good stuff!!

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jackie-2

Hi Erica! Thanks for sharing! I love your idea of the frozen fresh juices! And your nugget recipe sounds yummy!!

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Sam

I’m a believer of whatever works – but I don’t hide anything!! My 3.5yo will happily much away on broccoli, cauliflower, mashed sweet potato, peas, carrot sticks, avocado, green smoothies, vege juices, tofu, whatever. I ask that she at least tries something once and if she doesn’t like it, that’s fine, she’s not force fed anything. She has been part of preparing our meals since she was little. We also have a vege and herb garden which she loves. Who’s to say my now 7 month old will be the same though!? :)

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Jane

I always have put vegies in as many things as possible when cooking and I involved my son from very early. I completely agree with your reasoning in your article. We try to eat a nutrient rich diet and by adding veggies to some of our sweets, it ups there nutritional value. It made my day recently when my 3 year old son ordered himself a juice at our locals farmers market of watermelon, pineapple, beetroot, carrot and celery!

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jackie-2

Hi Sam, yes, oftentimes they change, but like you said, “who knows!” :) you are doing a great job now.

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Sue

I put them in things they love, but they can see them. I find letting them help chose new fresh veggies to try and letting they help pick or prepare them really makes them want to try them. Mac and cheese at our house always has at least one veggie in it. We love zucchini with cinnamon a bit of vanilla and a sprinkle of stevia warmed in the microwave! Suddenly it’s almost desert over meat or ice cream . We have even put it in pie shells its as good as apple pie when you squeeze a bit of lemon and use large zucchini cutting out the seeds you could fool anyone! I leave skins on but if you can’t get organic you don’t have to.

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