Saturday, March 13, 2010

Toddlers and Vegetables

I have two boys and if I were to combine their eating habits, they would be very good eaters eating a wonderfully balanced diet!  The problem is that one eats the vegetables, the other eats the meat.  I'm not too concerned about the one who doesn't like meat because he does eat chicken, peanut butter beans, milk- he's still getting his protein.  My son who doesn't like vegetables is a more complex issue. If I make a chicken fried rice with vegetables, he can actually take his fork and expertly manipulate it to get the rice and avoid the vegetables- great for his hand-eye-coordination but not so great for his nutrition.  I've seen a lot of recipes on ways to sneak vegetables in the foods they eat.  They often involve pureeing the cooked vegetable and sneaking it into something like a brownie.- Great idea but, honestly, I don't have time for that.  I need to find other ways to sneak them in that is easy in my schedule.  Here are some things that have worked for me but I'm always looking for more ideas!

Find meals you already make to sneak in vegetables, easily.
My son loves spaghetti so when I make a spaghetti sauce I do sneak in some extra vegetables.  I choose vegetables that are easy to just grate like zucchini or carrots so that it doesn't really make it more work than it usually did before.
I also sneak in grated zucchini in meatloaf which my little meat-lover adores!
My son also loves vegetable soup (he didn't know that it was vegetables as I blended the soup with an immersion blender before serving it.

Fruit juice with hidden vegetables.
V8 makes a juice now called V8 fusion- it tastes like fruit but actually has vegetables in it too.  Some are better than others so I had to test out a few flavours- my son was able to detect the vegetables. 
I don't regularly give them juice anyway so it was actually a treat for both of them.

Here is my favourite way to sneak vegetables into their diet.  My kids adore smoothies.  I throw in whatever frozen fruit I have on hand, some milk, yogourt, a touch of chocolate powder and, when they aren't looking, a few baby spinach leaves.  Once it's all blended they can't see it and the fruit and chocolate are the dominant flavours.  I've even added half an avocade once which gave it a really creamy consitency.  For added nutrition throw in some ground flax seeds.  A really great tip I got was to freeze the leftovers in popsicle molds.

Feeding children is not always easy and when you are already busy with work and life- tackling  this problem is especially daunting.  Finding easy tips to incorporate into your regular routine is important.  Now I can feel better that my son is at least eating some vegetables. 

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