“If you were stuck on a desert island and you can have any food you want, what would it be?” If I asked my children this question, pizza, mac & cheese, cookies, and cake would definitely rank high on their lists. Perhaps even favorite fruits, like strawberries and apples, might make it. But, green beans, broccoli, and carrots would not even come close to their top ten.
Of course, when they were babies, food selection was so much simpler. Whether you purchased truckloads of those mini jars of good eats or you made your own veggie and fruit purees, you were confident as a parent that you were feeding your child the best. Then, something happened. You can blame it on the grandparents. Or, your child’s sudden food-pickyness. Or, even yourself. Wherever the breakdown occurred, you are faced with this dilemma: How do I get my kid to eat more vegetables?
When my children were younger, I tried virtually every tip and trick under the sun. From the passive method of putting the veggies on their plate at every meal without forcing them to eat it … to kid-friendly food presentations (i.e., “ants on a log” — They just scooped out all the peanut butter and raisins and left the limp celery sticks on the plate.) … to bribing them with a slice of chocolate cake for dessert. Nothing seemed to work, and I was desperate.
So, I went back to what worked before: pureed fruit and vegetables. No, I didn’t start feeding them baby food again. Well, not exactly. In my research, I discovered the method of using pureed fruit and vegetables to “hide” in your foods.
For this task, I recommend two books. You will find recipes for kid-friendly meals that include various purees as well as tips on what types of vegetables would go well in color and flavor with certain dishes.
The Sneaky Chef, by Missy Chase Lapine
Deceptively Delicious, by Jessica Seinfeld
So I dusted off my super-heavy food processor and got to work in my kitchen. I pureed away, then labeled and stored them in the freezer, ready to be used for the next dish that I make.
But the true test was in the taste … in particular, my kids’ taste. My first try was brownies, which contained pureed blueberries and spinach. When I took it out of the oven, the color was a lighter brown, it was more cake-like, but the taste wasn’t bad (for me, at least). But, I’m not the one that needed convincing. I held my breath after giving it to my kids. Can they tell?
To my motherly delight, they loved it and made no comment about the difference in color, texture, and taste!
So, whether it was a recipe from the books or one of our usual meals, those purees went into almost anything. And when I didn’t have time to make my own purees, I just popped open a baby food jar of carrots and poured it into the simmering spaghetti sauce (when the kids weren’t looking).
Do you have picky eaters? What have you done to get your child to eat more vegetables?