What They Don’t Know is Healthy for Them!

I wasn’t a big vegetable eater as a kid. I wasn’t really any kind of vegetable eater at all until I was in high school, and it’s only as an adult that I’ve chosen to eat vegetables of my own free will. So I wasn’t surprised when my kids started avoiding them.

Here’s the thing- as a kid I was always goaded into eating my vegetables by the promise of dessert. It always worked. My kids aren’t as easily cajoled- they’ll leave a bowl of ice cream on the table if there’s a spoonful of green beans between them and that cookies ‘n cream. And I don’t really want to use that tactic too often.

So what’s a parent to do?

I’ve started using the principles outlined in Jessica Seinfeld’s book, Deceptively Delicious. In it, she describes her struggles with serving her kids healthy meals, and more importantly, she describes how she’s solved that very problem.

It comes down to vegetable puree. 

Basically, she adds things in places they won’t be noticed- cauliflower in mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes in grilled cheese and even chickpeas in chocolate chip cookies.

So far, I’ve made mashed potatoes, chocolate chip cookies, egg souffle, and pink pancakes (with beets! which they loved!). Sure the texture/appearance is slightly different, but I’m thinking if I just make them this way all of the time, eventually they’ll get used to it.

How do you get your kids to eat vegetables?

12 replies on “What They Don’t Know is Healthy for Them!”

Not being a cooking enthusiast, I just don’t have the motivation to put that much effort into preparing ‘sneaky’ healthy foods.  Instead, I stock my pantry with veggies I know my kids like, and I let each one pick a veggie for dinner.  If they resist, I have no problem adding a bit of butter and parmesan cheese to make the veggies more attractive.  But I never force my kids to eat things they don’t like.  I always hated that battle when I was younger.  In the end, though, I just try not to sweat it too much.  I don’t keep junk food in the house, and the we’re all big fruit snackers, so I figure it all balances in the end.

This is a great idea for most, but it’s hiding stuff in foods that made it nigh impossible for me to let anyone else prepare my food without me watching them for the last 15yrs. It still freaks me out that people hide things in food like this, and yes I realize it’s important for kids to eat their veggies. It just scarred me when people (not my mother but my grandmother, some aunts, and the occasional babysitter) hid things in my food.  I still can’t eat casseroles or anything at a potluck. *shudders*

I don’t have children and the only child I know would rather skip a meal than eat vegetables. But!, when I was little, one of my favorite meals was the roasted chicken on a bed of vegetables that my grandfather used to make. I also remember that one way he used to get us to at least try new things was to put a little of the new food on our plates and call it a “‘no thank you’ serving.” We didn’t always like what we sampled, but it did get us to try something new each time.

I don’t have children myself, but one of the things I liked about working with special needs children in a kindergarten is the little cooking segments we’d have with them.  We’d make simple recipes like applesauce and get them involved in the cooking process and  have them try the ingredients on their own.  I wonder if that helps with picky eaters or non-veggie eaters…maybe cooking veggierific dishes and having the kids help (getting stuff in the grocery store or farmers market or if you have access to a garden) cook and be involved in the process from start to finish might help them become more excited about vegetables.

My kiddos love to help in the kitchen, but they still don’t touch some foods (veggies and meat) with a ten foot pole.

That being said, when I taught, we did similar cooking projects and the kids did love them. And now that my son is in preschool, he’s doing similar things, and eating things. AT SCHOOL. I’m half tempted to invite his teacher over and have her cook some mashed potatoes or something…. :)

I have the weird toddler who likes raw veggies. Carrots, mostly, but she’ll also eat raw snow peas, sugar snap peas, and the occasional cucumber or lettuce. She doesn’t eat more than a few bites most of the time, so I also give her juice that’s half fruit/half veggie, which she loves (aside from the pulp clogging her sippy cups). And she likes the toddler yogurt that has veggies in it, too. Strange child!

that was me when I was a wee one! I loved vegetables. We had a juicer, and my mum would make apple/carrot/celery juice a lot (oh shoot… I worry sometimes I will start to sound like the “just eat lentils!” people). Also I loved frozen peas and frozen brussels sprouts… maybe it was the frozen thing and since my parents didn’t feed me popsicles I just assumed that my frozen greens were delicious (I still love frozen peas! can’t get myself to eat frozen brussels sprouts but I still enjoy them roasted/steamed). Let’s hear it for the Strange Toddlers!

I wish I had a strange toddler! My friend’s sons are like what you describe- they both love wholesome food …..oh if only!

I do also know that children’s taste buds are more sharp than adults, and so some strong flavors can come across even stronger to them.

Until they come around, I’ll keep serving and hoping, and serving and hoping….

I have that cookbook, and I just… don’t know. I’m middling-to-enthusiastic about vegetables and I like to delude myself into thinking that my eventual imaginary children will be perfect angels and eat whatever’s put in front of them, but that’s likely not going to be the case.

That said, it seems like constantly pureeing veggies would be a fuckton of work just to sneak them into kids’ food and wouldn’t really achieve the aim of creating a child who’s down with the veg. But when the idea is just to get those nutrients into them without constant tantrums and dinner table battles, I can see it being useful.

(I also wonder about the loss of fibre properties when you puree everything…)

I thought about that angle too- the whole, if I’m deceiving them, isn’t that defeating the purpose? I’ve come to the conclusion, “not really”- I’m still serving veggies as a side dish, it’s just that in addition to serving the ones they have decided to boycott, they also get food fortified with what they need.

And yes, it’s some work to get the purees ready, but I did a month’s worth one Sunday. I’m only into week 2, so we’ll see how it goes!


When you puree a vegetable, the fiber is still there. The size of the individual pieces of fiber don’t matter much for healthy digestive systems (How do I know this? Because I have one of those ridiculous digestive systems that much prefers all fiber to be pureed or soluble [like the pulpy part of fruit, rather than the skin, or the kind that is in carrots].)

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