Stop Hiding the Vegetables!

by on March 7th, 2015
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I’ve done it to my husband but would never do it to my son. I don’t hide vegetables at dinner. I cook them gently and parade them out, touting their virtues to anyone who will listen (who, as it turns out, is my son!). Every magazine I pick up with recipes has clever tricks on how to hide vegetables, sneak in healthy options and trick family members into eating better.

My biggest challenges in the healthy eating department are my husband and my step-son. My husband has only recently been making better food choices. My step-son lives by a different menu when he’s not here. My biggest triumph? My son who is proud of the healthy food choices he makes daily.

Broccoli and spinach is sometimes boiled, pureed and “hidden” in homemade chicken nugget batter or macaroni and cheese. Yeah, I’m sure the kids love eating green macaroni and cheese, moms. Why are we hiding so many vegetables? One reason may be an extended family member’s very public dislike of certain vegetables. One of my in-laws was happy to say, “yuck” every time peas were served. This is something we don’t say about food especially vegetables at our dinner table.

Ways to Showcase Vegetables

* Present rinsed, raw vegetables in fun ways – Just because we’re not hiding the vegetables doesn’t mean we can’t play with our food! Cut broccoli, homemade carrot sticks, strips of red and green peppers and purple cauliflower make a pretty rainbow on a plate.

* Serve raw vegetables platters family style – When the veggies are already on a kid’s plate they may not seem as appealing as the ones sitting on a platter in the middle of the table.

* Talk up the vegetables – Get specific when kids ask about why they need to eat certain vegetables. Share information about the health benefits of vegetables, from simple facts like carrots are good for your eyesight, and spinach is good for healthy bones.

* Be the bearer of vegetables – When attending family functions and holiday gatherings be the one to bring along the platter of raw vegetables, with or without a healthy yogurt-based or hummus dip. When kids at least have a choice of eating vegetables they won’t always go for the standard chips or cheese and pepperoni platters.

* Experiment and open your own mind – Kids sometimes ask about vegetables you don’t usually cook. Maybe they noticed an interesting one at the grocery store. Be open to trying new vegetables and recipes.

* Schedule a salad night. Some families live by Meatless Mondays, which you could also turn into salad night. Make the salad the foundation for a complete meal. Let the kids help pick a theme, the meat or protein, the vegetables, the type of greens and the salad dressing flavors.

* Same veggies, new methods
– Your kids may not like raw broccoli, they may only like green beans when they’re not cooked, or they may start disliking the texture of mashed potatoes. Find different but easy ways to cook the vegetables you always choose.
– Learn to steam not boil vegetables for better flavor, crispness and to retain the most nutrients.
– If you have a child kid will only eat raw green beans stop trying to make her eat cooked ones. Set some raw beans aside before steaming the rest.
– Season and bake potatoes with apples instead of making mashed potatoes or relying on French Fries.

When you talk up the vegetables and cook them properly your entire family will start to appreciate the health and flavor benefits of vegetables.

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