To Sneak or Not to Sneak?
Deceiving your kids with vegetables
-Beth Ann Bentley, ilunchbox.com
So lately the debate among moms is whether or not to sneak vegetables into things like brownies or pancakes, and if is it’s really okay. I have friends and family who feel this is the only way to go, and other friends who don’t.
I personally have a problem with it. I think if you are so desperate that you have to put spinach in your brownies in order to get your children to eat a vegetable, then you are probably dealing with a bigger problem than poor daily nutrition.
To quote our family’s pediatrician on the topic, “Parents should be pursuing an honest relationship with their children and encouraging their children to have an honest relationship with food.”
So let your kid have the brownie, really. It is okay. If you need nutritional backup or validation to let them have it, here you go: Dark chocolate and cocoa have antioxidant properties. There are eggs and milk in that brownie too. This is also a great opportunity to discuss moderation and the concept of discretionary calories: The 10 percent of your daily caloric intake that can be dedicated to the pursuit of sugary, fattening treats. This is my favorite part of my daily caloric intake, by the way. I can’t put it any better than Catherine Newman in her article “Stealth Vegetable Smackdown” in the April edition of Wonder Time.
Now, let me make one thing clear: I am not opposed to using creative tactics in the universal effort of getting our children to embrace eating vegetables. I just believe we should be eating vegetables that look like vegetables and smell like vegetables and taste like vegetables.
So eat them raw, steam them, sauté them, roast them, bake them, grill them, puree them, use them to enhance the flavor of eggs, meatloaf, meatballs, burgers, pastas, rice dishes, sauces, stews and soups, etc. Just don’t conceal them in chocolate, bury them in sugary treats or turn them into pancakes smothered with maple syrup as the sole way of introducing vegetables into your child’s diet.
Here are some tried-and-true tips compiled from parenting-type magazines, pediatrician newsletters and pamphlets, and leading books on children and eating:
• Keep trying! Just because your child did not like something the first time she tried it doesn’t mean she won’t like it eventually.
• A little butter, salt and pepper, garlic, cheese, bacon, pesto, lemon zest, dips and dressings go a long way. It is easier to wean your children off the condiments than get them to eat vegetables later in life.
• Encourage kids to take at least a “no-thank-you” bite. He doesn’t have to eat all of it, but he does have to give it a good honest try.
• While I am usually OK with bribing my children, I am not OK with bribing them with or for food. Never make having dessert contingent on eating all of the food, even the vegetables, on your child’s plate.
• A tip from our household: I will ask my children to eat one bite of vegetable for every year old they are before I will give them seconds on pasta, potatoes or rice. If they are sill hungry for additional carbs after eating some vegetables, then they can have what it is they want. Most of the time they are not.