There comes a time in every parent’s week when desperation prevails. For me, it typically involves feeding my kids.
Things were going okay for me food-wise when it came to my firstborn. She wasn’t a huge fan of fruit, but would devour just about any vegetable we put in front of her. I admit I was a bit smug, believing it had everything to do with me.
Fast forward to my son, 20 months her junior. He is on what we refer to as “the beige diet,” eating bread, chicken nuggets, cheese pizza, fish sticks, cereal bars, and bananas. It’s painful to see the lack of diversity in his diet and even more painful to experience the guilt that comes along with it.
We have tried a number of tactics to expand his palate to no avail. Rewarding him for taking bites works until he takes the bite. He eagerly scoops up food, but the texture causes him to gag.
What is a parent to do?
Though it is frowned upon in “real food” circles, we gave hiding food a try, calling upon The Sneaky Chef to assist with recipes that would disguise nutrient-rich ingredients into consumable food.
Hiding food definitely has it’s drawbacks, the top one being that kids don’t know they are eating anything nutritious, so food experts like Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food suggest telling kids they are eating a hidden gem once they have started enjoying the food.
If you like to hide veggies in your kid’s food please tell them about it while they are eating it (if you’re brave enough) or at least tell them afterward. They need to know the hidden ingredient isn’t so horrifying after all. Plus if when they turn 18 they still think they’ve never eaten broccoli, because it’s always been hidden it in their food, where is that going to get you? — Lisa Leake
If hiding food sounds like something you may want to try, give some of these recipes highlighted in MetroParent a try:
The idea of putting beets into pancakes sounds less than stellar, but it certainly creates a gorgeous end-result.
“As soon as Kenya heard the words ‘beet’ and ‘pancakes’ he said, ‘no way, that’s gross’,” says Catherine of Weelicious.com. “It didn’t take long for Chloe to jump on the ‘yucky’ bandwagon. It seemed like this experiment was going to leave two out of four of us with empty tummies, but as soon as the kids got into helping Daddy stir, mash and measure, they apparently forgot all about their initial aversion.
“By the time the beautiful ruby discs finally came off of the griddle and onto everyone’s plates, the kids downed about 5 a piece.”
This recipe hides mushrooms, carrots, and celery into tasty meatloaf. This isn’t the most nutrient-packed hidden recipe you’re going to find, but it certainly sounds delicious.
Macaroni and Cheese
One of the crazier recipe ideas, this combines chickpeas, nut butter, vanilla, oats, and other ingredients into a faux cookie dough.
Hiding vegetables is definitely easier in certain recipes than others. Tomato sauce provides that flexibility while making it difficult for unsuspecting children to suspect anything out of the ordinary.
For more hidden vegetable recipes, read the rest of MetroParents’ article, “Hidden Vegetables Recipes for Kids.”