Is there a difference between hiding vegetables in food and adding vegetables to food to make it more nutrient dense?
Technically, it is physically the same process. However, depending on the way it is approached and executed, it can be fundamentally different. If you read my post on Deceptively Wrong, you will soon learn I am avidly against hiding veggies in my children’s food. If you look at my recipes, you will also learn I am constantly pureeing veggies to either make homemade baby food recipes, baby led weaning recipes or nutrient dense recipes. Let me explain the difference I see in the two ideologies:
Hiding Veggies in Food:
The key word here is hiding. There is a perpetual cycle of parents and even health educators promoting the ideology to hide veggies in food to increase the consumption of vegetables among toddlers and children. When guardians hide vegetables in recipes, it establishes a layer of deception creating an environment of sneaky little secretes that children really pick up on. They can see and smell the deception a mile away.
- Hiding vegetables does not give children the opportunity to learn about vegetables.
- Hiding vegetables provides children with the perception vegetables do not taste good.
- Hiding vegetables offers a foundation for mistrust between food, the guardian and the child.
- Hiding vegetables does not give the child the chance to touch, smell, see or taste the vegetable. All senses are involved in “tasting” a vegetable.
- Hiding vegetables can mislead the child to believe they are not expected to eat the vegetable.
- Hiding vegetables disrespects and shames the very food that helps us grow into healthy adults.
Adding Nutrient Dense Ingredients to Food:
Adding nutrient dense food is a great way to increase the nutrition of the food you eat. Food manufactures do this on a daily bases when they fortify foods with Vitamin D, A, Calcium, B Vitamins and Iron. You can certainly do this with the foods you make at home but be careful with the way you approach the task. Do not HIDE the vegetables but think of ways you can empower your child to eat all foods.
- Allow them to help prepare the meal. If you are adding kale puree to a soup, sauce or smoothie, let your child prepare the kale by ripping the leaves off the stems.
- Allow your child to pick the vegetable for the meal.
- If you puree a vegetable in the recipe, serve it in the whole form on the side but do not pressure your child to taste it.
- Allow your child to taste vegetables on their own terms. Tasting may include smelling, touching, hearing (cooking), looking and tasting.
- Don’t think a child is too young to taste any food. As you can see from my pictures below, my children have always been involved in the cooking process. If I was making pureed carrots or broccoli baby food, my child was playing with it in their high chair. For age appropriate kitchen tasks, click here.