Op Ed: Why NOT Put Veggies In Kid's Food?

March 6, 2012

The recent NPR article: Kids Don't Mind If You Put Veggies In The Cake, started me thinking. Why NOT put veggies in kid's food? I mean, it's not like you are committing some sort of parenting violation if you slip ground up veg in the tomato sauce. This comes from a mom who always uses every available opportunity to slip vegetables into a recipe. Not adding vegetables is a missed opportunity to increase the nutrient content of almost every recipe. 

The author missed the point. Kids don't mind if you slip vegetables into their favorite foods. What they mind, is when you lie and say that you didn't . The cookies that are mentioned in the article, contained chickpeas-whole chickpeas. That doesn't even sound good to me, and I happen to like them. How about mashing them up and then blending them into the cookie dough? For heaven sakes, talk about setting yourself up for failure! 

The crux of this anti-vegetable issue is not that kids automatically don't like vegetables, it is that we make such a big deal about how they are going to hate them. Why set that scenario up for failure? Provide vegetables from the start, take away the shock and awe when they try the vegetables, and stop pretending you never added cauliflower to the brownies. Your kids are on to you. 


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Clara Harris's picture

Yes, absolutely introduce vegetables from the start, and proceed as if it is no big deal. A man once remarked to me at Whole Foods how surprised he was to see my son eating broccoli because "Kids don't like broccoli." My kid happens to LOVE broccoli. (He didn't have a choice, it happens to be one of my favorite foods ever.)

I have finally figured out that they go through phases. Kiddo used to love avocados, applesauce, and bananas, now he swears he hates them. Meh, he'll get over it. In the meantime, I just keep introducing other fruits and vegetables, trying to prepare them in various ways until I find something he does eat with gusto. Last night, for example, I made a mango ginger fried rice that he couldn't get enough of; I just dice the fruit and veggies so they are small and don't present it with trepidation, as if I'm afraid he won't eat it.

The crux of the argument, for me, is that kids need to learn to appreciate the taste of the vegetable itself, not always cloaked in chocolate or doused in cheese. If they only eat vegetables if they are baked into brownies or smothered in cheese sauce, they really aren't learning to eat healthfully. That being said, I love a good creamed spinach and buttered carrots, but I also enjoy a spinach salad and raw carrots with hummus. For me, it is about developing their palate and learning healthy eating habits.

Of course, healthy isn't much fun if there isn't chocolate involved now and again.