“Hidden Veggies: Yes or No?”
Blog Four: Tuesday, 18 April 2019
Written by Mandy Sacher, CEO of Wholesome Child
I hope you implemented one of my top tips for fussy eaters last week! Let’s get straight into it this week and dive into the age-old debate whether hiding veg in your kid’s food is a good idea.
Have you ever felt the need to chop veggies up into teeny tiny pieces or even grate them into your child’s food? Exhausting, isn’t it? This is a topic that’s debated widely but personally while I’m an advocate for bumping up recipes with veggies, I believe it’s important to offer these same veggies to your child in their raw, whole state too.
Put simply, you can never have too many vegetables in a child’s diet and going over the recommended five veggie servings a day with veggies chopped up in recipes is nothing but beneficial. So to answer the question in an easy way, try not to hide veggies on purpose wherever possible. Explore all types of veggies in all forms with your child including raw, cooked and chopped into dishes.
But, when can you hide veggies?
Disguising vegetables only becomes appropriate if a child is going through a fussy eating stage that’s making it impossible to reach even half of their recommended daily intake.
If you do find you need to disguise veggies, it’s a good idea to work within the framework of your child’s favourite foods. If they love pancakes or pikelets, make them with pumpkin and sweet potato puree, or if they love pasta, make your own pasta sauce and puree peas, onions, garlic and zucchini into it. Veggies can also be added to muffins and biscuits.
If your child only likes one vegetable such as carrots or potatoes, you can try pureeing similar coloured veggies and add them in small quantities. For example, sweet potato and carrot, cauliflower and potato, broccoli and zucchini, mashed potato and parsnip, or parsnip chips added to potato chips.
If your child will only eat sweet foods, bake vegetables in a honey sauce. Sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, parsnip or zucchini drizzled with raw honey and extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of cinnamon may be more palatable. You could even add a drizzle of maple syrup into the water if you’re boiling veggies.
If your little one loves a certain food such as burgers, it’s easy to add vegetables to beef or chicken patties – the same goes for bolognese sauce, pasta sauce or meatballs. Veggie stocks are an absolute powerhouse of nutrients too. Cook up an assortment of veggies, including leek, carrots, onion, parsley and bay leaves and add to any food you’re cooking. You could even boil pasta or rice in veggie stock to boost the nutrient value. Avoid stock cubes as much as possible as they contain preservatives, sugar and excess salt. Instead, you can freeze homemade vegetable stock in an ice cube tray to use at a later date.
When a child sees vegetables and salads offered up on a daily basis, they’ll learn to expect to see these foods on the table. Positive role modelling and eating as a family as much as possible are both great ways to encourage veggie intake and eventually you can remove any need to disguise.
As with everything with little ones and nutrition – persistence and repetition are key, along with a healthy dose of patience and a sense of humour!