Kids in the Kitchen – Monday Cooking Tip #8: Should You Hide Vegetables?

By Diana K. Rice, The Kids Cook Monday staff dietitian KE-special-feature 

If you’ve ever found yourself in a bargaining match with your child over taking just a few more bites of a vegetable dish, you may have been tempted to serve up one of those inventive recipes that “hides” the veggies next time around. Things like macaroni and cheese with a dose of pureed butternut squash or hamburgers with mashed black beans may feel like your only option for getting your picky eater the nutrients she needs.

Yet recipes like these are met with criticism from child feeding experts, who argue that sneaking nutritious foods into child favorites does little to help children appreciate healthy foods and won’t result in healthier choices down the line. Plus, regular deception doesn’t make for great parenting.

So what’s a parent to do? Try a happy medium by giving the “hiding” concept a try, but involve your child in the cooking process so you have full disclose. Perhaps start with this seasonal recipe for Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese. Kids are significantly more likely to try foods when they help with the preparation process, so even if your child is an orange vegetable hater, odds are that she’ll still give the final dish a try (especially since it also features noodles and cheese). Then, next time you’re serving up baked sweet potatoes, remind your little chef that they taste a lot like the pumpkin she helped cook. If you’re successful, repeat the process with every color of the rainbow!

Diana Rice

Diana K. Rice, RD is a registered dietitian on staff with The Kids Cook Monday, a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns at The Kids Cook Monday
In her role as RD and recipe editor, Diana writes and speaks on the many benefits of introducing children to culinary and nutrition education in the home environment and works to provide parents and educators with high-quality resources to aid in the process. She is also an advocate for the many social and health benefits of regular family dinners. At The Monday Campaigns, Diana also contributes to the organization’s largest initiative, Meatless Monday.

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