For the Kiddos: Hidden Veggies, Yay or Nay?

Happy Monday, everyone! I was browsing a selection of used books at the library recently when I saw Jessica Seinfeld’s book, Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating. I’d always thought the concept of sneaking vegetables into kid’s food was counterintuitive since I want to teach my children to appreciate and enjoy eating healthy, nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. But, as I stood there thumbing through the book, stomach rumbling, I realized that the recipes sounded just plain good. And that lead me to thinking more about my daughter’s diet on a week to week basis.

My mom once reiterated something my brother’s pediatrician had shared once with her at one of his checkups. He said you shouldn’t panic if your child eats nothing but carrots one week, then chicken fingers the next because he IS getting the necessary nutrients, just not in the way we’re used to. Now that’s not to say this applies to picky eaters who may not be getting all their servings of fruits and veggies in a day, but it did give me pause.

If you ask E what her favorite foods are, not just fruits and veggies, she’ll rattle off: broccoli, carrots, pears, berries, and bananas without hesitation, but on a day to day basis, I’m lucky if I cover half of what’s recommended for her nutritionally. I have the best intentions as her gastronomic steward, but the reality is, I’m a working mom of two with limited brain cells at the end of the day to devote to developing optimal cuisine. Most days, all I want is a pizza and a nap by the time dinner rolls around, so psyching myself up for a round of “enthusiastic, veggie-eating role model” during dinner is about the final straw.

I jest. Kind of.

I think something like Deceptively Delicious could actually be a really handy read to have on hand, if only to inspire some new ways of thinking about how to pack a bit more nutritional *punch* into foods my toddler already knows and loves. Take this Pasta with Tomato and Hidden Veg. It manages to cram celery, carrots, leeks, peppers, tomatoes and onion all into the dish. I mean, leeks? That’s impressive. Alone, my daughter loves just about all of those foods, but to combine them into a single dish builds a more complex flavor profile which is good all around for her palette development; she’ll learn to love and appreciated more sophisticated and nuanced flavors eating like this, and bonus — it’s a heck of a lot easier to get ALL those veggies into her body AND for mom to maybe still make it to bed on time. Probably not, but here’s hoping.

So all this to say that my opinion on sneaking veggies into my child’s food has been swayed in favor. While I think it’s extremely important to help cultivate an appreciation of the good stuff, like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, spinach and peppers, I think my girls will only stand to gain if I perk up a few of our go-to recipes to be a bit more veggie-dense. These Creamy Avocado pops are top of the list for my next kids in the kitchen afternoon with E.

Where do YOU stand on sneaking veggies into your kids’ food? Are you in favor? I’d love to hear what foods your toddler simply refuses to eat too. I’m always curious. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject!


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