Should You Hide Vegetables In Other Food For Kids?

There are pros and cons of hiding vegetables and other less attractive ingredients in more popular foods for kids. It’s a trick I’ve employed countless times and I wanted to share the positive and negative aspects to following this deceptive tactic.

There are some negatives to hiding vegetables…

Before I share a couple of ways I’ve hidden vegetables, I thought I’d highlight some of the negative consequences of this technique.

The vegetables being sneakily hidden means that they aren’t actually learning about the taste and texture of the vegetables in their true form.

If baked treats are a “sometimes food” and all of a sudden they are being presented with more and more baked treats just to get them to eat a serve of broccoli then this isn’t really sending a positive message about healthy eating!

I overcome these negatives by ensuring that a serve of fresh vegetables is presented along side the hidden ones. Sometimes they will eat both, sometimes only the hidden version, but at least they are being presented with the vegetable and encouraged to taste it. I like to chat with them about what the food feels like and tastes and what special powers the specific vegetable will give them – bigger muscles, be able to run faster, or whatever task they are interested in at that specific time. Maybe that’s also a little sneaky, but I believe it does help them to understand that there is a strong connection between the food that they eat and the activities they want to perform.

Also, I hide vegetables less in baked treats and more in savory dishes (as you’ll see below), which is when they would usually be eaten.

The Benefits Of Hiding Vegetables

For extremely fussy children, sometimes the ONLY way to nourish them properly is to hide vital ingredients in food that they love.

You can seriously broaden their intake of vegetables by hiding a portion or two in other foods without the nagging and arguments which often accompany kids being presented with vegetables.

These are just some of my more popular ways of getting the kids to eat more vegetables:

Roast Zucchini Sandwich Spread – I hid Zucchini in a spread for the kids sandwiches.

Spinach & Avocado Spread – the kids LOVE Avocado, so I pureed a handful of spinach leaves into the avocado to increase their leafy green intake.

By concealing the spread within sandwiches and serving them in a cute muffin the meal (below) that delights the kids they happily ate through this meal. I also included cucumber stars and apples cut into bears using mini vegetable cutters.

Veggie Scrambled Eggs – 6 Ways – I’ve successfully hidden 6 different vegetables in scrambled eggs for the kids. It’s simply a matter of mixing the vegetables through the batter (zucchini in the below picture) and cooking it for the kids.

It’s not just vegetables I’ve hidden. My main area for concern with my picky eater has always been protein. I’ve resorted to hiding protein (in particular red meat) in some of his favorite foods in order to increase his red meat intake. My Burger French Toast Recipe is the perfect example of this.

Now you’re aware of some of the pros and cons, what do you think about the the tactic of hiding vegetables in other food for kids?

Now for an exciting announcement –  now that the dust has settled on the launch of my eBook (The Grain Free Lunch Box), I’ve started writing the next eBook… The Picky Eater Survival Guide (due for release late 2013) – where I will be sharing the challenges and triumphs of feeding an extremely picky eater in a book I’ve been composing in my mind for a number of years now. My almost 5 year old has been picky since weaning and the entire inspiration behind my blog – I was inspired to get him to say “yummy” which is the meaning behind the name of my blog.

I’m now finally putting pen to paper, bringing to life the book I always wanted to read while struggling with my picky eater and am so excited to be bringing this to you. The book will be full of techniques to feed a picky eater – no matter how picky, you will find ways to provide your kids with a nourishing diet full of nutrient dense food.

As the book is still a work in progress, I’d love to hear from you – please share your picky eater dilemma in the comments (or feel free to email me if you’d prefer to be private) and I will attempt to explore your dilemma in The Picky Eater Survival Guide.
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  1. great post, I’ve always given our daughter her veggies straight up (she is 3). She loves salad and broccoli, kale chips… I do notice that sometimes she won’t eat her veggies so I puree it up, add some water and make a soup and she eats it. it’s hit and miss every day!

  2. I try not to hide the veggies in my kids food. I will definitely prepare things different ways for them though – like green smoothies they absolutely love, but they won’t eat a bowl of kale or spinach raw. But, they are involved in the making process, so they know there is spinach or kale in the smoothie. I think letting the kids help in the cooking process goes a long way in getting them to eat different veggies. Of course, like Little Mountain Haven, it is hit or miss every day with my kids (5 and 2.5), sometimes they will have a salad for lunch and eat corn and peas out of the freezer, and sometimes all they will want are nacho chips 🙂

  3. My kids started out eating what we ate. They started out with fruits and veggies. Out of all the veggies they ate, my son loved beets and my daughter’s favorite was/is carrots. They are now in their teens and love just about every veggie out there. My daughter is into trying new fruits and veggies every time we see one. She is even a pro at picking out the best ones at the farmer’s market. We have a huge garden that they both helped start and love to see who can get the first veggie or berry out of it. If you’ve started them young, incorporating them early isn’t a problem. If you haven’t, maybe allow them the chance to help you pick out the veggie they are willing to try and have them help you cook it or prepare it.

  4. My mom never hid veggies, but she did serve at least 2 with every meal. Instead, we HAD to eat a “no thank you helping” which was about 2 pieces of a raw veg or 2 forkfuls of a cooked one. And (gasp!) she MADE us eat that helping. No leaving the table until we did. 35 years later, I thank God every day for that. I now eat a wide array of foods and appreciate the value of veggies. I plan on using the same strategy when my first arrives in a few weeks.

    As a kid, I learned that I love cooked broccoli but hate it raw. That beets are gross out of a jar but heavenly roasted in the oven. That cooked carrots are better cut into coins but raw carrots are better shredded or in sticks. I hated kohlrabi as a kid, but love it now. In other words, you need to keep offering your kids their veggies over and over and in a variety of ways. Don’t let your kid go thinking that if they don’t like pickled brussels sprouts that they should assume they’ll also hate them raw, roasted, or boiled, too. “Try it – you might like it” should be the ever-repeated sentiment.

  5. My youngest daughter loved every vegetable we put in front of her,as a baby!.All three of my kids were raised eating veggies (even homegrown Brussels Spouts)at Least one Vegetable eaten a night. I always served two and made sure they liked one..,Naturally they all had their favs, usually corn, which of all the veggies is least desirable, I think,because its a high calorie, high starch food- Weight watchers counts it as a starch not a veggie!My Problem was getting all of them to eat the good veggies like broccoli and brussel sprouts..sometimes hiding them is the only way..because just eating one type isnt good enough! We really need them all!:)