What is your approach to your kids and their vegetables? We all know that it is important for our kids to eat a rainbow, but if your kids don’t like to eat their greens what do you do? Do you sneak the good stuff in? Do you hide vegetables in their meals? Or do you make sure that they are clearly identifiable on the plate?
It seems that these are two key schools of thought on this. Hidden vegetables are eaten without a fuss. But if they are on the plate, once a child is accustomed to eating them they will usually eat them again without too much fuss. For some kids, repeated exposure to the new foods is all it takes to get them to eat something. Unless they take exception to it of course.
I have a foot in each camp, myself. I definitely do a combination of the two. I think that this is because I tend by nature to be a pragmatist, rather than a purist. I hide some vegetables and I ‘expose’ others. My feeling is that way you get some healthy bits into them while they are learning/acquiring the tastes for a wider range of things. It is possibly also my cooking style. We eat a lot of sauce based meals (since we had kids), and curries, both of which are easy to incorporate vegetables into.
Mr five will happily eat peas, corn, broccoli, (and ‘white brocolli’). So I definitely don’t hide any of these.
But there are some things Mr five will not eat. At three and a half I had the audacity to serve him a salad. He looked at the plate and then at me and earnestly explained that he “did not eat leaves Mummy”. It made me giggle at the time, but he has stuck to this resolution. Mr five will pick out (with his fingers!) eggplants, courgettes, mushrooms, onions and carrots (but he will eat raw carrot sticks, go figure?) if he can identify them in a meal. This is despite much exposure to them over several years. So I have learnt to add these early to the cooking process to things such as bolognese or casserole type meals, so they cook down and become indistinguishable when eaten.
How do you sneak the good stuff in?
There are a number of other things that can be “snuck” into meals, depending what you are making. Here are some ideas on ways to sneak the good stuff in:
- tinned tomatoes and finely diced onion are key to so many meals
- finely grated carrot into all tomato based pasta sauces
- spinach wilts down to nothing when added in near the end
- grated apple, pear, carrot or courgette into baking or into burger patties or homemade nuggets
- finely sliced eggplant (grate for curries for the grown-ups, makes a great sauce so less calories)chopped prunes or apricot
- tinned chick peas or lentils into meat sauces
- ground nuts, eg almonds (or even some LSA) into baking, on top of cereal and in sauces
These things add variety and potentially make your meals go that little bit further whilst allowing you to up the vegetable head count on the plate a little, by stealth.
When it comes time to serve I will hopefully have added something he will eat along side it (broccoli, corn, peas or “white broccoli”). Doing it this way I know that even if he makes a big deal about the side vegetables that he will at least had had some roughage and coloured vegetables.
What about you? How do you sneak stuff in? For more information on what sort of stuff your kids should be eating check out this site.