I recently spoke to a local MOM’s club and was asked a question that got me thinking: What do you think of hiding vegetables in other foods so kids will eat them? Well, I’ve given it alot of thought and while I agree with my answer that day (which I’ll share in just a bit) I’ve decided I have more to say. It’s not so cut and dry as “It’s a good idea” or “It’s not a good idea.”
My initial response was, I’m not really a fan of hiding kale in brownies and other tricks like that. I have a couple of reasons for that.
♥ I believe we should teach our children to enjoy and choose a variety of healthy foods. Sure, in the short term, if there’s veggies in the chocolate chip cookies your child will eat them. But…in the long term, as they get older and start making more of their own choices they won’t choose all of those snuck-in veggies because they will still not like them.
♥ If we sneak healthy foods into less than healthy foods, we end up encouraging our kids to eat more of the brownies, cookies, cakes, or whatever not so healthy food we’ve packed veggies or beans into. Sure the treat now has some nutrition power to it but it also has sugar, fat, and all of those other things that make it a food we should choose less often instead of more often.
So that pretty much summed up my answer at the meeting. However, like I said, I’ve been giving it more thought and have an addition to my original response.
If you have a healthy eater or are developing a healthy eater and are providing a variety of healthy fruits, veggies, protein, whole grains, etc. I think there is nothing wrong with adding something to a food to simply boost the nutritional quality. For example, I recently made meatballs (see recipe below) and I put spinach in them. My kids like raw baby spinach but I’m not crazy about cooked spinach so they don’t get exposed to it that much. I then added the meatballs to a soup which also had tomatoes and carrots and we had a salad before the soup. So, my family got plenty of veggies in the meal as it was and the spinach was just a bonus!
So, my amended answer is if you’re simply hiding healthy foods in less than healthy foods to avoid the challenges of getting your kids to eat healthy foods–no not for it. If, on the other hand, you’re doing it as extra nutrition or to go along with what they are getting as they’re developing their healthy tastes–yes, for it. With one caveat–don’t overdo the adding veggies to treats. Pumpkin pancakes, sure. Zucchini bread, fine. Spinach brownies, not so sure about ones like that. Just my opinion though. What’s yours?
Keep in mind though, my whole delicious & nutritious eating concept. I’m all for accessorizing food to make it tastier, more interesting, more fun, and more likely to be eaten. Nothing wrong with a little bit of cheese sprinkled on broccoli, some peanut butter spread on an apple, a shake of cinnamon on oatmeal, and this one I’m dying to try—saw on TV the other day–Kale chips (basically roasted kale leaves) with a sprinkle of brown sugar–yes, I know it sounds strange, but the sugar is supposed to help cut the bitterness of the kale. I’ll let you know how that goes next time I pick up some kale.
I’ve recently started to try to make at least one meal a week that I can double up and freeze the extra for a second meal during a busy week. This recipe actually gave me 3 batches of meatballs for our family–1 to eat and 2 to save. Hope you enjoy it!1 pound lean ground beef 1 pound ground pork 1 pound lean ground turkey or chicken 1 (10-oz) box frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry 1/4 cup grated romano cheese 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs 2 large eggs, beaten 1/2 cup skim or low fat milk 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons onion powder 1 teaspoon garlic powder 2 tablespoons parsley 1 teaspoon Kosher salt Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and mix until well incorporated, but don’t overmix. Pinch off about a teaspoon of meat mixture and gently roll into about a 1-inch ball. Repeat, arranging balls about 1/2-inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned and register 160° on a meat thermometer, about 25-30 minutes. Eat right away, or let cool, place on baking sheet and freeze for about 20 minutes then place in ziplock freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months. I made 92 meatballs out of this last week.