Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Moms Sound Off: Is It Okay To Hide Veggies In Food?

Last week, I introduced a new item on our sidebar, The Cook's Library, which is a list of cookbooks and magazines that we like.

One of the books I mentioned is the new book by Jessica Seinfeld, 'Deliciously Deceptive,' in which the recipes include pureed vegetables hidden inside dishes such as brownies, mashed potatoes, chicken nuggets, et cetera.

I had no idea at the time I wrote the post how controversial Seinfeld's book, and others that are similar to it, would be. The biggest complaint seems to be that people find the idea of sneaking healthy foods into kids to be dishonest, and many have said that they feel following this practice will do more harm than good, as moms should be encouraging healthy eating.

What is your opinion? Do you think it's dishonest to hide vegetables in other foods? Do you find it easy to get your children to try new foods and eat their veggies? Would you consider your kids picky eaters?

I have decided that I don't need the Deliciously Deceptive book, but not because it's a bad book or because I object to the idea of hiding vegetables. It's just because I'm a good enough cook that I don't need a recipe for macaroni and cheese, and because I'm not inclined to spend the time pureeing vegetables.

The author is clear that her book is not advocating this method as an alternative to offering vegetables in their usual form or teaching kids about healthy eating choices. Rather, she acknowledges that kids can have bizarre eating habits and that as long as you make sure healthy foods are right where they can choose to eat them, what they can't see what hurt them.

Even before this book was published, I put extra veggies in my food. Finely diced carrots in chicken salad, chopped onions in scrambled eggs, shredded zucchini in meatloaf. I serve those "beefed up" foods along with whole grains and fresh vegetables. My son has been picky in the past, so it makes me feel better knowing that even if he chooses not to eat his broccoli, he's still getting some vegetables from the other dishes I made. When he was a baby, he was briefly classified as a failure to thrive baby, due to an undiagnosed food allergy, and my pediatrician told me to "get the food into him, any way you can." I involve him in every aspect of cooking, and that has made a big difference in how well he eats, but he still has days when he doesn't eat well.

I think the difference is in using the 'hiding veggies' method as the primary way to get veggies into your kids and using is as insurance in case the usual method doesn't work. Let's face it, not every mom is comfortable in the kitchen and plenty of parents can use some guidance on how to make something healthier. As for being dishonest, don't we tell our kids that a man from the North Pole comes down the chimney every Christmas with a sack full of gifts? What's the difference?

Let us know what you think? Is hiding vegetables in other foods an offensive idea, or is it one you have used in the past? What are some of your tricks for getting your kids to try vegetables (and like them)?


Kacie said...

I think it's A-OK to "hide" veggies and other nutrition in foods. Some people might not like the taste of zucchini raw, but when I hide it in zucchini bread, everyone loves it!

The point I'm trying to make is, hiding veggies isn't deceptive--it's giving a nutritious food another way to be served.

Jen said...

My kids love veggies so I never have had to hide them.

However, I asked about Jessica Sienfeld's book today at Barnes & Noble, and was told its so popular they can't keep it in stock. There was a waiting list before it even hit bookstores.

PokeyAnn said...

My son loves veggies and fruits, so that's not a problem for me. But I like the idea of increasing vegetable and fruit intake, as most of us don't get enough. So I would use these methods just to increase the amount of veggies and fruits. And it can take upwards of 15 times of offering a food to a child to get them to try it. So keep offering and do what makes sense for your family.

Jen38 said...

My kids really like their fruits and veggies too. I like to use them in soups and casseroles, and have never tried hiding them. Although I don't have an issue with someone trying that to get their kids to eat well.

My advice is to buy the best produce of the season. Apples in fall, strawberries and asparagus in the spring, fresh corn, beans, and cantaloupe in the summer, pomegranates and squash in December... Many other examples, but now I'm hungry! ;)

Brian & Erica said...

I agree with you long as your kids still see veggies in their natural form I think its a great idea....I have a 21 month old who'll eat just about anything....EXCEPT for his veggies....he'd rather throw them across the room than eat them....we still give him 2 or 3 bites of whatever we're having but if he's just going to throw it I'm not giving him a whole serving of it....instead if I can sneak it to him, he'll at least get the nutrients he needs and one day a carrot or green bean may actually make it to his stomach without being hidden in something first.

Anonymous said...

My husband isn't the kind of guy who eats veggies often lol. I thought hey I might as well make him healthier food while making him what he loves. XD Girls it works on husbands too!

Anonymous said...

I made a vege pizza and spring rolls, you name it I put it on there. the vege's were clearly visable and they loved it