We at the Picky Eater Project believe you are allowed to hide vegetables in your kids food. Of course, your little ones need to learn to see how vegetables look in nature and to like the taste of them in their natural state. However, hiding them is a great alternative and complementary technique to get vegetables and their vital nutrients into your children without a fuss.
You don’t want to undermine the good work you’ve already started in making eating vegetables a habit and you certainly don’t want to have to rely on this method to get nutrients into your little ones as the only way. But often when you are dealing with picky eaters getting them to try new things can be a challenge.
First things first…
So right off the bat, this method gets vegetables and therefore all the goodness and nutrients that come with them into our child. Second, it gets them without much conflict, or even notice, especially on days when you cannot face another dinner table battle. Third, it is relatively easy to grate puree or mash vegetables into a favorite family dish. After you’ve done it a few times it can actually be quite fun and a nice alternative. We don’t recommend that this be the only way you get veggies in your child’s diet, but it certainly can be one way to get the job done.
Hiding veggies in food can be an option for getting good nutrition in your kids as well as getting your child to eat fresh or cooked vegetables in their purest form.
For example, you could have a puree vegetable soup at lunch. And then as an afternoon snack you could for the raw or natural approach like carrot and celery sticks. Then at dinner you could make a good spaghetti with a ton of hidden vegetables in it with a small salad on the side.
So, there are three main strategies for hiding vegetables.
Hide vegetables in normal dishes, hide vegetables in plain sight and hide vegetables in cakes and or treats. Pickiness can often be a color and or texture issue. Here are some ways to hide vegetables; pureed or blended, mashed, grated, chopped up small, and even wrapped. It’s worth noting.
But serving vegetables in a pureed soup or smoothie form comes with its own set of negative implications. It’s important for toddlers and children to work out that foods need to be bitten and chewed on, that food can be different textures, and some of those will be hard and crunchy. In the case of smoothies, they won’t learn about textures in the same way. Even more importantly, the continuous diet of soft foods means that their bodies may not learn to digest food. Properly chewing stimulates the digestive system and sets the body up to retain the best nutrients from food. So think of smoothies and soup as a great part of your family’s diet, but not something to rely on solely.
But…does this make you feel like you’re being deceptive?
We realize making vegetables invisible involves an art of deception. This may not sit well for some of you, so after a while it is within the rules of the game to tell your kids what’s hidden in their meals. Be sneaky, and then stop being sneaky. Or you can even allow them to see or even help you with vegetable camouflage. So over time, we even suggest hiding vegetables in plain sight. Disguising vegetables does not always have to involve blending them, so they are completely invisible. Finely chopped grated carrots or wrapped vegetables can effectively disguise vegetables in plain sight. What is so great about this strategy is that you do not even have to be that tricky about it.
Hide it in plain site…
Give the kids some pieces of pepper, tomato and mushrooms on a plate and they could turn their nose up. Put the same thing on a slice of pizza with some melted cheese on top and it will disappear before their eyes. Even better, get them to help you. They can place the chopped up pieces on their own pizza.
One mom says that their family loves to make zucchini muffins together. She says the kids don’t necessarily like zucchini, but they love zucchini muffins. They have fun grating it and putting it in muffins and they eat them up without a fuss. Kids are often particular but when you invite them to help in the kitchen and make recipes that are fun to make together they often will gobble it up, no problem.
So, don’t feel like you are breaking the rules if you hide veggies. You are getting good food and good nutrition in your kids by using this method and helping them learn and expand their taste buds along the way.