Today we feature OWG guest blogger and childhood obesity consultant, Melodie Griffin. Melodie’s passion lies in the prevention of childhood obesity through the school and early learning settings. All programs Melodie promotes are fully approved by her home based lab rats, five year old son, Howie, and two year old daughter, Hope.
My house is a virtual battleground when it comes to vegetables. It’s not that my family won’t eat them; it’s that each has very specific preferences and none of those preferences are the same. If I make broccoli, my husband complains that I ruined dinner by stinking up the kitchen. If I make grilled asparagus, it’s met with gagging noises from my son as he tells me (often over and over and OVER again) how much he doesn’t like asparagus. When my husband chefs up his favorite vegetable creation of zucchini in a vodka sauce, my daughter hides in the other room, refusing to get into her chair.
It’s important to me that my family members have access to a vegetable at most dinners but I refuse to cater to each member of my family every night. What’s a mom to do? I hide them and I’m proud of it.
There’s been a great deal of controversy over hiding vegetables in foods, pro or con, most people have strong feelings about this topic. Previous to my vegetable dilemma, I was against this sneaky approach to increasing vegetable intake. I took the very strong position of introducing a vegetable to your children (and let’s be truthful here, your husband as well) and having them taste it over and over again until one day they liked it. Well, that method simply didn’t work in my house and often resulted in tantrums and tears (my husband might or might not have participated in this behavior).
So, I tried hiding the vegetables in foods. I puréed different veggies and sneaked them into some of their favorite foods; macaroni and cheese, banana bread, fruit dip, and more. At first, I didn’t tell them, I wanted to see if they were able to spot the hidden veggie. Not only did the veggies go unnoticed, but I received comments about how they loved my new recipes. I even served the macaroni and cheese to ten of our adult friends at a party and again, received numerous comments about my cauliflower laced dish.
After my family finished each delicious dish, I revealed the hidden veggie truth. If you try this method, it’s important you don’t mention this to them until they’re done eating or else they’ll refuse to continue eating it, insisting they can taste the hidden veggie. Once they learn they actually like the veggie in the new dish, I took it to the next level. I let them help me prepare the veggies for the purees and then invited them to help me incorporate the veggie into a dish. They went into dinner knowing there was a veggie they didn’t like in the dish, but still willing to try it.
Once I have full buy-in of a specific veggie, I introduce it to them again, in its full glory, not hidden in any sort of side dish. I can’t say I’ve had a 100% adoption rate but I can say I have my children (and yes, husband too) eating more vegetables than before. They still have their favorites but there are far less tantrums and I don’t have to go searching for my kids to get them to the table. I have happy vegetable eating kids and husband which makes me a happy mom.