Wednesday, May 23, 2012

If You've Got It, Flaunt It

There I sat, staring down my stubborn toddler, playing a game of dinner time chicken. She wouldn't budge and while my husband had already cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher, I was determined to not let her get the best of me. "As God as my witness, this child will eat that broccoli floret," I muttered to myself. But, as steely as my resolve was, she, as always, persevered. "Fine, put your plate in the sink"...I felt defeated and exhausted. I knew I had made a huge mistake by giving in to microwaveable meals and canned spaghetti, and I was so motivated to right my wrongs. Unfortunately, she was just as motivated to wear me down and get her way.

The failed Brussels sprout experiment

Sound familiar? I know of not one parent who hasn't dealt with this situation, played on repeat for at least a year. Many have reached the point, like I had, where they began to dread dinner time all because they felt like their kids should look at bright orange crunchy carrots with glee. So what are health-conscious parents of notoriously headstrong and picky toddlers to do? "Hide" those veggies!

I've read all the criticism, I've heard all the negative remarks. "Children should know what they're eating and learn to like vegetables for what they are or they'll never develop a habit of eating them on their own." I call shenanigans on that school of thought.

Mac n cheese using pureed carrots, corn, and pumpkin.

I think just about every food out there has the capacity to be eaten a variety of ways, from savory to sweet, grilled to fried. To me, it became about highlighting a vegetable's range, respecting the fact that my child is an independent being with her own preferences, and ultimately getting creative. While I like squash sauteed with bacon and garlic, my child clearly did not. So why not make the squash the star of something she will eat  and enjoy, like a muffin or a sweet bread? I don't think of that as hiding the vegetable at all, I just think it's a good way to repurpose something healthy into something that is palatable to her (and still nutritious).

P adding pureed beets to waffle batter.
Though I didn't initially broadcast it to her that she was eating something like a spinach and carrot brownie, we did ease our way into a more open and honest policy. She's now my little kitchen assistant, watching me as I grate zucchini for chocolate muffins or pressing the button on the food processor to make chocolate pudding made with dates and avocados. And you know what? Now she requests carrots in her school lunch and brags to anyone who will listen about how she's eating her greens inside her muffin. Tell me what's so wrong about that?

Everything is better when mixed with chocolate!


  1. I'm with you on this. My kids are slowly getting there. My 3 year old is far more adventurous with eating than he used to be. He wouldn't touch anything. Now it's my 20 month old asserting herself in the food department, but I've gotten her to eat more veggies in the last couple weeks than in her entire existence, I'm pretty sure. This week I'm juice fasting, so the kids are sharing my fruit/veggie juice combos and learning what they like and dislike. The pulp is being used for muffins, popsicles, eggs, pasta sauce (or compost if I forget to separate some that won't go well in a meal).

  2. Stopping by to say HI! from GFV Mom's blog hop. Can't wait to poke around and explore your blog :)

    Christina @