There’s a lot of debate about the pros and cons of sneaking vegetables into kids’ food. I know some moms who’ve given up the notion of getting anything green into their offspring unless it’s in disguise. Entire books are devoted to the subject, such as Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious and Missy Chase Lapine’s The Sneaky Chef, which suggest surreptitious ways to work vegetables into everyday dishes.
On the flip side are plenty of parents, along with food and nutrition experts who are opposed to such practices. Vegetables need to be up front and center, they proclaim, otherwise kids will never learn to accept them at face value.
So the question is, should you sneak veggies into your kid’s food?
Although I’ve been known to stir pureed carrots into my mac cheese and have worked chopped kale anonymously into more dishes than I can count, I tend to be a more ‘up front and center’ kind of a cook. I wonder what kind of a message it sends if healthy foods need to be camouflaged. Plus, it’s tough to get in adequate amounts of vegetables when hidden within another dish.
That all said, there’s no harm in a little of both. Have the bowl of veggies and the green salad on the table, but toss those dark leafies into the chili when the kids aren’t looking.
On the “serve ‘em naked” end of the spectrum, here are a few tips that may help:
• Provide options — Try for at least a couple of vegetable dishes at dinner, say a salad and a plate of broccoli, or pasta with asparagus and veggies and dip. Offering choices may up the chances that a child will go for at least one of them.
• Let them choose – Take kids to the market and let them have a say in what vegetables you make that day or week. Invite them to choose something new, stick with an old favorite, or maybe both.
• Get them cooking – Give children jobs in the kitchen related to the salad or vegetables, such as making a salad dressing or grating cheese over roasted cauliflower.
• Serve veggies first – I’m always surprised by how quickly the kids can down a plate of vegetables set out before dinner when they are good and hungry.
• Garden – Growing and harvesting a couple of vegetables is a great way to up the interest.
• Eat them yourself – Let your kids see you eating and loving a variety of vegetables.
• Don’t push it – Put the food out there, encourage them to try it, then leave it alone.
• Be patient – Some kids take time (a long time) to adopt new foods. Those of you with veggie-averse kids might take comfort in this article in Yoga Journal about one mom’s trial (and triumph) with her picky son.
Check out my e-book on the subject of kids and veggies, which you can download for free.Should you Sneak Veggies into your Kids Food? Click To Tweet