Is it wrong to covertly add fruits and veg to your kid's meals?
If we are hiding the foods that make our kids cringe in other foods, is there really a benefit to curbing those picky eating habits? If we are hiding spinach in their smoothies and they are reaping the benefits of the nutrition without being let in on the secret we aren't fixing the picky eating problem.
So here is what you do; lie until they like the food and then let them in on the secret. If they are drinking a smoothie or eating a sauce that they are enjoying, don't ruin it by telling them what is in it....yet. Let them enjoy the deceptive foods a few times before you ask them to help you make them. Getting them to help you make the foods is the most important part of this strategy.
When they step up to the counter to help put the ingredients in the blender for a smoothie, have them name the ingredients as they go in. If you've been hiding veggies in their smoothie, make sure that specific ingredient is put in somewhere in the middle and done very nonchalantly. They may react with disgust or they may not care at all. If it's the former, let them know that these have always been the ingredients and they have been drinking it with veggies in it for a long time. Then you can make a joke that they look taller or wiser because of it. If they don't react when you put the veggies in, then you don't react either. No need to have a conversation about the ingredients or make a big deal if they have just accepted it.
Orangsicle Smoothie Ok, this one is a little sneakier off the bat. Because this smoothie calls for a green veg, I originally told my kids that I put green food colouring in it because I am such a cool and fun mom. They bought it, so... - 1 large orange peeled (I also remove all the white flesh from the middle so there aren't any chunks) - 1 banana - 1 cup of plant-based or regular milk (we use unsweetened Vanilla Oat Milk) - I cup of spinach or baby kale (has to be baby kale because the big stuff doesn't blend well) - 1 tbsp hemp hearts (lots of protein) - 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract Blend until smooth.
*If you want a thicker consistency, you can add half an avocado or some coconut yogurt*
This one is a 2 parter so buckle up:
In a saucepan add:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups of spinach
- 1/4 cup of fresh basil or parsley or both
Sautee until all veggies are wilted
- add a can of San Marzano tomatoes or whatever spaghetti sauce you like
- let simmer for 5-10 mins
- when cool, put in a blender and mix up until there is no evidence of veggies
If your child likes their sauce plain, then you can be done at this step. HOORAY!
If your child will eat the sauce with ground meat or ground veggie, then continue with the steps below:
- once veggie ground or meat is cooking add finely diced cauliflower and/or finely chopped mushrooms. When the pieces are small enough and mixed in with other textures, they will have no idea.
- add the sauce on top and no one will know those tiny little nuggets of nutrition are mixed in.
*You can also use the plain sauce for pizza sauce as well*
Zucchini Carrot Muffins
- 1 cup shredded zucchini (remove excess water by squeezing)
- 1/2 cup shredded carrot (excess water removed)
- 1/2 cup of apple sauce
- 1/4 cup of plant-based milk
- 1 banana
- 1/2 cup sugar (use monk fruit sugar if you want them to be Keto)
- 2 chia seed eggs (1 tbsp chia seeds + 2-3 tbsp water = 1 egg)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1.5 cup white whole wheat flour (almond flour for Keto)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
- 1/2 dried fruit - we love goji berries because they don't get too mushy when baked
If adding the chocolate chips is what pushes them to eat the muffin, then add them in (better yet, let them add them in).
If you are really worried about them seeing the veg or feeling the texture, I recommend blending the carrot, zucchini, milk, and apple sauce together for a smooth consistency before mixing with the dry ingredients.
If you need to, start slow. Don't put 100 cups of spinach in everything. Add a few leaves here and there and then slowly up the ante. After they've had the sneaky foods a few times, remember to have them help you prepare it or make it in front of them. As time goes on, they may be more willing to try other things if they think it doesn't change the taste of their yummy favourites.
However, if seeing you make the food instantly puts them off, then abort the mission immediately and move on to a new sneaky recipe and start over.
You don't know if it will work unless you try.