This seems to make sense at first. Getting vegetables into your children any which way you can, whether it’s in cakes, brownies and muffins, or soups, sauces and pies.
There are times when bulking food up with vegetables is a good tactic, such as in a soup or a homemade pasta sauce, muffins or smoothies. Doing so increases the nutritional value of the meal, and teaches kids that vegetables can be eaten many ways.
What doesn’t work is when kids find vegetables added to their favourite dish, and you haven’t been honest about it. And once your child catches on to what you’re doing, he may feel angry and mistrustful about it.
Try this instead:
Our job as parents is to raise kids who will make good nutrition choices as adults. So children need to learn about the taste and texture of vegetables. That’s why it’s important that they experience individual foods in obvious ways, and not ‘hidden’ in another food.
By all means boost the nutrient content of meals however you can, but serve the real deal too. Even if they only take a small amount of the vegetable, it’s better than consistently hiding purees in food.
Vary how you present vegetables. You may find your children prefer sweet potato baked as chips rather than mashed, raw carrots more than cooked, roasted cauliflower over steamed.
If your child asks you, tell them what’s in the food, whether it’s black beans in the brownies, zucchini in the muffins, or carrot and sweetcorn in the fritters. That way they can learn about the different forms vegetables can take, and how they can taste very different.
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Jenny Boss, Nutritionist