Monday, April 19, 2010

Why we don't hide the veggies

Ever since Jerry Seinfeld's wife went on Oprah a while back promoting her cookbook, hiding vegetables in "kid friendly" food has become a popular trend. I don't know about you, but I really don't have the time or desire to cook and puree all sorts of vegetables to put into the meals I'm already cooking and preparing. I also think it defeats the point of encouraging children to eat healthier. How will a child ever learn to like real vegetables if they are constantly being coddled with hidden veggies? How will they ever develop a taste for the real deal?

I have no problem with adding veggies to enhance a food's nutritional value as long as regularly prepared vegetables are also being served. For example, I add spinach to a lot of sauces or I'll make pumpkin pancakes. I'm not trying to trick my children into eating anything, just boosting what I'm already serving.

I'm not a fan of lying to kids to get them to do what you want them to do. They deserve the same respect that adults do. If a child is not told that veggies are hiding in their foods, how will they feel if they find out? They are likely to lose a level of trust and/or not want to eat foods that potentially could be hiding foods they don't like, creating an even pickier child.

In my opinion, the best option is to offer vegetables in their natural form in the most appealing ways possible. Prepare them fresh or frozen by steaming, sauteing, or roasting them for optimal flavor. Offer healthy dips like hummus or top with a little shredded cheese. Serve them in a fun presentation and let the child help in the preparation. Teach them young, and they will develop a healthy relationship with nutritious food without trickery.


  1. The funniest thing is that my son will eat only corn on the cob not frozen kernels.I try both plans of attack. My son is now an adult and still getting him to eat a vegetable is like a nuclear arms treaty. I do love the idea of pumpkin (grr pumpkin blight this year) and fruit smoothies in summer (freeze berries as the season ends). A few days ago I did use up some apples that were going soft and semi "candied" them as a treat. But mostly it was that they were microwaved in a nice herbal tea (already brewed), the smallest amount of butter for flavor, cinnamon and definitely cardamon or cardamom depending on whom you ask. Cardamom adds a sweetness with little or no sweetener. I douse equal which many frown upon- you certainly can use honey or brown sugar. Brown sugar has the same calories as white. Why do this to a perfectly good fruit-AS A TREAT. I am certainly fine with serving a sliced apple on a plate or a banana with a pancake breakfast. Have as much fruit and veggie son hand and yes ask what they like. SO they only want green beans-- could be much worse.

  2. I remember being a kid and the trouble with hidden vegetables or loathed food is that if the kids finds out you are deceiving them (say, the usual meal tastes a little odder, or maybe the chicken tastes a little fishy...) then they will become even MORE picky and sometimes refuse a food they normally like because they SUSPECT it's been modified! I've done this sometimes, myself.

    The best thing is to variate the presentation. If they don't like a food when it looks a certain way or is cooked in a certain fashion, maybe they'd like it if you cook or arrange it differently.

    Also, sometimes you lose pickyness while getting older. I was EXTREMELY picky as a child (though oddly I did love fish and liver...) and now I eat most of what I hated as a child (though I still LOATHE zucchini, sausages and lamb). Sometimes it's mostly stubborness.