Years ago, before I became a parent, I saw an advertisement for a book filled with recipes that included pureed vegetables in all sorts of delicious treats. Carrot puree brownies, broccoli puree spaghetti sauce… you get the idea. Sneak veggies in food kids love and presto! Kids eat veggies!
What a genius idea, I thought. Kids are eating veggies without even knowing it.
When I became a mom I didn’t give much thought to what Miss O was eating. I just gave her a variety of foods. Some she ate, some she didn’t. But the idea has recently come up again and, now that it was actually relevant to me, I started giving it some thought.
Nope. I’m not going there. I’m not going to sneak veggies in my daughter’s food, and here’s why:
She’s a good eater. The kid LOVES broccoli. Ask her what she wants for dinner and her response will be, “Chicken nuggets and broccoli.” No joke. And she will eat every last stalk. She also loves basically all fruits, peas, carrots, corn… the basics. It’s okay if she doesn’t like everything. Who does?
Veggies are an acquired taste. They say a kid needs to taste something up to 20 times before they like it. Well, how’s she going to taste anything if it’s buried under other flavors. Sure, she might get some veggie flavor, but these recipes tend to be too good at hiding veggies and never let kids really taste them. And if they don’t taste them, how will they learn to like them?
Sugar. The biggest problem I see with these recipes is that they (generally) take healthy food and surround it by unhealthy junk. So yes, Miss O might be eating sweet potato without a fuss, she’s also eating lots of extra sugar and fat. Is it worth it?
Nutrient loss. Again, there’s a health factor here. The jury’s still out on nutrient loss during the cooking process, but I’m pretty sure that the more you process food, the less good it is for you. So by pureeing, which often involves boiling or blanching foods first, then cooking it in a dish, there’s a lot of opportunity for nutrient loss.
But if I had to sum up my reason in one sentence it would be this:
Hiding veggies in sweets doesn’t set my daughter up for life-long healthy eating habits. Veggies aren’t anything to be afraid of, but by hiding them, we portray them that way. Similarly, brownies are not health food, no matter what we add to them. Miss O knows that some foods are good for her and some foods are not. Is she naturally drawn to treats? Ummm, yes. She’s 5. But she understands when she’s only allowed to have 1 treat, because it’s openly talked about.
Let me just be clear here; If you are a parent and use the hidden veggie trick to up your kids’ veggie intake, and that works for you, great. I am not here to judge or berate your parenting decisions. You raise your kid, I’ll raise mine, and we’ll both screw them up somehow or other. I’m simply explaining how I came to my decision (I have a blog, you know, I can do that), not imposing my decision on you.
I’m glad we got that out of the way.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you sneak veggies into your kids’ food? Share in the comments.