Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Do you hide vegetables in your toddler's meals?
Whilst there might be an extensive range of tips, cookbooks and general encouragement out there towards hiding vegetables in food you cook for your child, the advice I was given recently in a family nutrition course was very much against such sneaky tactics.
The nutritionist and pediatric dietician running the course explained that by disguising vegetables and making them totally unrecognisable in dishes isn't going to ever help your child enjoy that particular food. It's important for them to see what they are eating and to try foods in different forms (raw/cooked/served in varying meal types etc). It can take up to 20 attempts at a food before a child accepts and enjoys it so it's worthwhile for the parent or carer to persevere and try presenting the food differently.
The advice I was given makes sense to me. I can see why parents do hide vegetables in meals but equally I think it's important for children to learn about different vegetables, to recognise them and gradually gain an understanding of the seasonality of them too.
As a vegetarian, I've always enjoyed a wide range of vegetables and brussel sprouts and beetroot are the only two that spring to mind as types I really don't like (although I have found ways to eat both - in a soup and in a cake respectively). Whilst my son is a great eater with a voracious appetite, he's not terribly keen on any green vegetables. He'll eat peas and green beans but when it comes to the iron-rich dark green cabbages, kale and broccoli, he will barely touch them.
I know a lot of people who aren't big vegetable eaters but even their children will eat broccoli. I've therefore perserved in particular with broccoli and have tried presenting it in different ways but to no avail. My son still won't eat it. However, I'm slightly embarassed to say that if it's hidden in a broccoli cheese soup or in this yummy vegan pesto I tried recently, he eats it no problem. It's frustrating because surely the same flavour is there and he is getting the nutritional benefits from it and yet clearly, these recipes go against my no hiding vegetables rule.
Unfortunately I haven't been keeping track of how many attempts we've had at broccoli but I'm pretty sure we've reached the 20 mark. I'm not giving up on the dark green veggies with my son though! Whilst I certainly won't resort to hiding tactics all the time, I will allow myself the occasional exception that involves a recipe that the whole family enjoys.
What are your children like with eating their vegetables and green vegetables specifically? Have you discovered a particular recipe that they love and doesn't involve any hiding of the vegetable itself?