articles / Family life

Sometimes you have to sneak in the vegetables

Since Josiah was old enough to eat solid food, he’s eaten pretty much everything we’ve given him. He will eat any meat, including deer meat (and yes, he knows where all that comes from), and he will eat just about any fruit or vegetable we give him. In fact, when we go to the grocery store, he begs me to buy him bananas, grapes, apples, or oranges — depending on what he’s craving that week.

I have found that there are a few things that he actually doesn’t like and consistently tries and decides he doesn’t like: guacamole and cole slaw. He will tell me that he doesn’t like pepperoni or tomatoes, but if I give them to him and he doesn’t notice, he’ll eat them.

I know that not all kids are like that. Heck, I know adults who aren’t like that. There are a whole list of vegetables that I do like, but there’s an even longer list of vegetables I don’t like. For example, I won’t eat onions, any kind of pepper, olives, asparagus, brussel sprouts or mushrooms (fungus, not a vegetable). I can eat a small amount of onion flavoring and I can even handle the pepper flavor.

I have tried all of the above foods on several occasions and I just do not like them…I do not like them Sam-I-Am (too much Dr. Suess). But I have tried them. Josiah has tried guacamole almost every time we’ve eaten mexican food and he still makes the same ugly face and bold decision that he doesn’t like it. You know what? I’m totally OK with that. People, even children, are going to have genuine dislikes for certain flavors and foods.

Sometimes though it isn’t that the person (or child) doesn’t like the food, but simply hasn’t tried it and has a fear of the flavor-unknown.  One of the best ways to prevent this from happening in a child is to introduce it early. Despite the fact that I don’t like onions, Josiah does. He will also eat sauerkraut and I can’t even stomach the smell of it. I always encourage Josiah to try foods even if I don’t like them. I don’t just limit him to my taste buds.

For those children or adults who are afraid of the flavor, you can always subtly add it to something they already like and introduce the flavor like that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I love mexican chicken. Mexican chicken is made with cream of mushroom. I do NOT like mushrooms, but it doesn’t bother me to eat cream of mushroom in my mexican chicken. My approval of wpid-20130901_182806.jpgmushrooms will never go past that.

If everyone in your household pretty much likes the same vegetables, it is still a great thing to be able to pack in the veggies at every available chance.

Here’s a few places where I’ve found you can get extra vegetables in:

  • Tuna — When I make tuna I use Miracle Whip (if you buy the olive oil kind it doesn’t have the bad stuff in it), dill relish, and boiled eggs. I also started shredding up carrots. Not only does it add a different texture but it adds a huge flavor boost. For a family size pouch of tuna I use one or two carrots. It’s not a lot, but it’s one or two more carrots than you had before.
  • Pasta — I do not like chunky vegetables in my spaghetti. Aside from the tomato in the sauce, using noodles made with vegetables will add a boost of flavor and nutrients. I recently made chicken tetrazzini and tried to figure out how to incorporate veggies into that pasta meal and I actually found organic spinach noodles. It wasn’t gluten-free like I try to do (hey if you can’t do GF at least it’s organic), but it was primarily made out of spinach. It was awesome tasting. There wasn’t a strong spinach flavor (for those who don’t like spinach or don’t know if they wpid-20130906_183947.jpglike spinach), but the nutrition is still there.
  • Tortillas — Especially with being pregnant, I’ve found myself cheating on the gluten-free thing especially when it comes to noodles and tortillas. I did find garden vegetable tortillas. They were made with spinach and a few other green veggies. They’re green so they look like they’d have a lot of vegetables, but there is only small amounts of vegetable. Still, you’re going to eat tortillas, so you might as well eat tortillas with a hint of veggie. I’m curious about drying out spinach and making my own spinach tortillas — that way they’d be packed with fresh flavor and healthiness.

What are a few tricks you’ve found for getting veggies into meals?

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