Moms’ Burning Questions: Is it OK to Sneak Veggies Into My Kids’ Dinners?

A friend was telling me that her kids won’t eat their vegetables willingly, so she often sneaks veggies into meatballs and smoothies.  This way they get their veggies without knowing about it.  What do you think about this strategy?

Kids try all kinds of new veggies at our Super Salad Bar assembly!

I’m all about transparency when it comes to veggies, so sneaking them in isn’t even a consideration.  Being open and honest is the best way to build trust with your young eater.  The goal shouldn’t be tricking kids into eating veggies, but rather empowering them to love them.  At the Barn, I always have the kids help cook the recipe so they know what goes into it.  When it’s time to try their creation, the kids are transformed into expert taste testers, which excites them to give something new a chance.  An added bonus at HealthBarn USA is that kids learn how to grow their own fruits and vegetables as well as pick them fresh to eat – nothing tastes better than freshly picked beans, peas, strawberries, and more.  If a garden isn’t an option, visit a local farmers’ market to make this important food connection for your child.

Here are two simple tips to help get kids excited about eating veggies:

  1. Don’t push vegetables to the side: make them part of the meal. Instead of a separate serving of spinach, how about our Spinach Pesto Pasta? My young niece Georgia didn’t like eating veggies—until my sister made her a batch of my Sweet Potato Pancakes in Appetite for Life. Now they are her favorite breakfast and my sister loves them too. Many of our recipes incorporate fresh vegetables into the dish, rather than adding them as a side serving.  (We don’t “sneak” these veggies in as a puree, either!)
  2. Set an example by eating your veggies too. If kids see you loving your veggies and salads, they’ll be curious to try what mom and dad are so excited to eat.  Focus less on the word “vegetable” and more on sharing foods that you love.

Ultimately, I don’t believe in hiding what is healthy. Kids deserve to know what they’re eating and it’s been my experience that they rise to the occasion every time when it’s served up with a lot of fun!

– Stacey Antine, MS RD, author, Appetite for Life and founder, HealthBarn USA

What puzzles you about keeping your family healthy?  Tell us what’s on your mind by emailing [email protected].  Stacey will answer those questions here weekly

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