Is Hiding Veggies Being Sneaky?


If you could take a recipe that your family enjoys and then take it up a (nutritious) notch by adding pureed or finely chopped vegetables or fruit, would you do it? We're shouting out a resounding, “Yes.” Anything you can do to pack the healthiest punch in what your kids (and family) eat gives them more nutrients in each bite taken.

That means a lot for those toddlers that only take a few bites at a meal or who seem to graze all day long.

Does this mean that you are “hiding” something, or is it more that you are adding even more healthy ingredients to your meal?

Making mac and cheese? Add some pureed cauliflower or squash. Spaghetti sauce? Add some finely chopped or pureed carrots or spinach. Meatloaf? What about adding some zucchini and red bell pepper. 

Mix It Up

But don’t forget to continue serving up a variety of fruits and vegetables on the side for your child to experience the textures and flavors. The purpose of adding finely chopped or pureed vegetables and fruits is not to replace them. It’s to boost the quality of the food that you are serving so that you can pack the most into the foods that you work so hard on to nourish your family. And, as a bonus, you won’t feel like you’ll need to start a meal time stand-off when one of your family members, most likely a little one, takes one bite of the vegetable of the day and then says, “I’m full,” because you’ll know that other foods that you are serving offer similar nutrients.


Involve the Family

So, is this “hiding” and being sneaky? Not if you’re involving the family. One idea is to let your kids pick a color that they’d like to add. Maybe something red, like red bell pepper? The lovely red bits make it look like a confetti cupcake. Or take them to the produce isle and have them pick something they’d like to try.

Maybe they can help grocery shop, wash, and chop too. My kids love going to a local farmer, helping him pick the vegetables, then trying them in all sorts of new ways. For instance, you could add what you find to a favorite family recipe, find a new recipe to try it in, or come up with your own recipe. Another idea is to give your kid(s) a few choices of recipes and let them pick. Getting them involved in decision making (and in the kitchen) helps them have more ownership over the meal. And with that ownership and pride over what they’ve created, there is more of a chance of trying and liking the food.

Change the Serving Method

One of my little ones has never cared for mango. But when added to her green smoothie, she thinks it’s great! And she knows it’s in there. There is just something about it alone that doesn’t please her taste buds. At least, not yet. You may find that in your house too. Spinach salad may not be your child’s “thing,” but chopped up on a pizza, blended into a smoothie or muffin, or added into spaghetti sauce may be a “no argument” way to deliver it. And you can feel good and give yourself a pat on the back for any success, no matter how small if may seem.

I have two that love asparagus and one that would prefer to never taste it again.

But when it’s cooked, finely chopped, and added to our pasta salad, she can’t taste it with all of the other flavors that she is getting in each bite. She doesn’t mind seeing it and knowing that she is eating it when it’s delivered in a way that it’s not as strong for her.

Basically, find what works with your family and run with it. And remember to share what works for you.  You never know when you’ll inspire someone else and give them the tools that they need to help end mealtime arguments.

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