Mothers’ groups swear by it and there are recipes flooding the internet on how to perfect it, but is veggie smuggling (the art of hiding veggies in your kids’ food) the way to go or is it just providing a BAND-AID solution?
Being a mum of two, I can totally understand how veggie smuggling has its place in meal preparation. I definitely resorted to hiding veggies from my first child, for a while anyway …
Masking one vegetable flavour for another begins with a baby’s first food. A combination of three or four different pureed veggies can form a mishmash meal. Apple sweetens otherwise disliked pumpkin and broccoli can easily be disguised in a tomato-based pasta sauce. It’s tempting to get the ‘good stuff’ into our kids any way we can.
However, we need to remember that children develop their taste preferences from a very early age. This is why I strongly believe that we need to let veggies speak for themselves and give our children the chance to experience each unique taste.
With my first child, I fought fire with fire and came out on top simply because I wasn’t going to back down from teaching good nutrition habits. Stubborn, yes, but I do think having a workable balance between smuggling and serving veggies separately is the key.
Why veggie smuggling backfires
Realistically, constantly hiding veggies does no one any good. It’s a short term solution to a long term problem. When we hide vegetables, we are not working towards creating good eating habits that will take our children into adulthood. It makes sense to grate up some veggies and add them to a dish when there is a tired and grumpy household (let’s face it, it’s best for everyone), but for the most part it is best to serve salads, stir-fries and vegetables as a standalone part of the meal.
I didn’t like the feeling of lying or being sneaky, perhaps even denying there were veggies in a meal when asked. And really, why should we have to? Vegetables are certainly not bad or criminal, but this is the reputation we give them when we sneak them in and try to hide them.
Pros and cons of veggie smuggling in a nutshell
- Incorporates more veggies into the diet of a ‘fussy’ child.
- Less fuss at dinnertime.
- Smuggling veggies means meals take more time to prepare.
- It doesn’t teach proper principles for long term benefits.
- You will get caught one day, so you will need to be able to explain yourself and possibly rebuild your child’s trust.
- Your child will miss developing their adventurous side by trying and experiencing new tastes.
If you choose to add in veggies (notice I didn’t say sneak) every now and then for less fuss at dinnertime, there are clever ways of doing this. Here are some delicious veggie smuggler recipes that your kids might enjoy.
Try these veggie smuggler recipes
- Mini quiches with hidden veg
- Vegetable pikelets
- Hidden veg meatloaf
- Healthy cupcakes and muffins
- Slow cooker spaghetti bolognaise with hidden veg
You can hide, but I instead prefer to glorify the humble veggie, put it on a pedestal and make it a part of life, something that we should enjoy eating. Just choose your battles.
Is veggie eating a battle you plan to win?
If you think you’ve read this post before you would be right, this post first appeared on Kidspot