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Getting kids to eat fruits & veggies

I'd like to report that Project 'hide vitamins', the pancake episode was a smashing success!

I have a terrible time getting Everett to eat vegetables and Truman to eat fruit. For some reason, fruit straight-up in any guise seems yucky to Truman, though he'll eat a varied diet, happily munching on pita chips with cilantro-pecan dip or bites of my veggie-licious lentils. Everett, on the other hand, suspiciously reviews every dish for telltale signs of greenery or onions (though I've lately convinced him that spinach in chicken soup or noodles is great for his muscles). Still, the battle continues and often I'm left convincing myself that, after all, we're omnivores and the chicken and beef they'll happily eat has a few vitamins, at least.

Today I decided to renew my effort to hide fruits and veggies in their food. Recipe one: pancakes with carrot juice and mashed bananas. It was such a success that both plates were clean before the second pancake had even finished frying. Here's my recipe:

  • 1 cup flour (next time, it will be whole wheat)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (you could probably go without sugar)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Mix together in medium-sized bowl. In another medium bowl, mash:

  • 1 very ripe banana

And, with a whisk or fork, mix in:

  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3-4 tbsp carrot juice

Add to flour mixture and mix only until blended and still lumpy (you'll want to have made sure your banana was well-mushed in the second step). Heat non-stick skillet or cast-iron griddle (my choice) to medium-high, and add a small pat of butter or vegetable oil. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto griddle; flip when pancakes start to make bubbles and cook for about a minute more. Serve with a bit more butter and maple syrup.

[Note: that photo is from the Arleta Library Bakery Cafe, another day... they have yummy healthy breakfast too!]


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I've done the same thing with pancakes with great success. Try adding finely shredded sweet potatoes (chock full of nutrition) - they're really sweet but melt right into the batter. Also works nicely with muffins of any sort.

hiding veggies in our pancakes and waffles is a staple in our home. We have added spinach, steamed brocolli, zuchini, and numerous others. We also hide a lot of veggies in our burritos, especially grated carrots. My son will not touch a raw vegtable but gobbles up our pancakes and burritos

Grated vegies in the meatloaf is my trick, although if I go to far with it, they're on to me and won't eat even that.

Keep up your experiments - more ways to get veggies into my daughter would be much appreciated. So far my only sure fire trick is a really easy veggie soup (beans and or pasta can be added too) that she'll happily and messily eat for at least 2 or 3 meals. I make it every few weeks, or when I am feeling desperate to up her vegetable intake.

My daughter will eat veggies in eggs, so tortes, quiches, and the like work for us, though there's only so much egg an adult can stomach (or add to one's arteries)...

I would think that fruit is easier to hide than veggies...I'm thinking, banana/pumpkin/blueberry breads/muffins. My mom used to make a delicious zuccini bread that we all devoured--it happened every year when she'd get a bumper crop of zuccini in the garden and we'd end up eating zuc for every meal! But that bread was good.

I shred carrots into lots of breads and muffins too. And Anders loves a grilled cheese sandwich or cheese crisp with shredded carrots inside with the cheese. I also always have a couple of boxes of frozen chopped spinach on hand and I add it to every sauce I ever make. If he's looking for green you probably wont get away with that one though.

I must have the exact opposite problem than most of you, or maybe it's the age. My 21 month old daughter seems to eat nothing BUT fruit and veggies. Tonight, she had one half a personal watermelon,8 strawberries and 2 bowls of (frozen) peas! We don't eat meat (not vegan) so it's especially hard to get her to eat non-cheese protien (there is only so much cheese one should and can eat in a day!). But I grew up loving brussel sprouts and broccoli, so maybe it's genetic! They say that if your kids eat a lot of fruit for snacks, not to worry as much about the veggies, as the vitamins are sufficient in the fruit (I'm not really sure who "they" are...maybe my doctor or a book I read?).

OK, so I NEVER watch the news shows in the morning, but we were at a hotel and had one on and they had some author called The Sneaky Chef who has experimented with veggie and fruit purees (including a white puree of cauliflower and zuchini) and putting them into normal recipes. The link is here:

Let me know if anybody tries any. The brainy brownies with SPINACH seemed to be a big hit.

I've never gone to great lengths to "hide" veggies....I go with the theory "It's mom's responsibility to offer good food & the child's responsibility what they put in their mouth." I try really hard not to make a big deal out of what my daughter eats. I also make sure that there's just not too much junk around. I involve her in making food: banana bread, muffins with dried fruit, etc. She loves working in the garden & although a lot of times she chews on stuff & spits it back out, she loves lettuce & anything she can dip in ranch dressing (which can be made with yoghurt & she never comments on the difference). Now that she's 3 I've talked with her a little bit about the differences in nutritional content of veggies vs. cookies & why it's important to eat good food. I know she's thought about this conversation because she'll ask about it occasionally....And, I'm certainly not above telling her stories that make veggies/fruit more attractive (asparagus are dinosaur trees & the Easter bunny loves carrots).

When I was nannying about 6 kids during college I found that having them do some of the cooking was always a good way to get them interested in food. Also, plain old steamed broccoli was ALWAYS a hit. But I think the best advice is that kids will eat the way their parents eat and exercise. I think that what Capella said makes sense, because even if they spit food out now, eventually we all started eating the foods our parents ate and liking it...so like anything in parenting just being consistent continuing to set a good example is a great place to start.

We have two very different eaters in our household, and they each learned preferences based on early exposure at home and at their daycares. Our first daughter live in nyc and atlanta before moving to Portland. She loves pizza, bagels, and biscuits. Our second daughter was born in Portland and lived here ever since. She eats tofu, quinoa, lots of spinach, and all sorts of school-grown fruits and veggies and eggs.

Pasta and pizza have been our two successful foods. I can toss all sorts of veggies and some protein into a pasta sauce. With the homemade pizza, the girls take special pride in rolling out the dough, putting on toppings, and eating their results. Since it's so much fun to pile on toppings, I can get them to put on peppers, tomatoes, spinach, and more. Soups are also an easy way to hide stuff - The Sneaky Chef purees sound delicious and healthy and a nice vitamin supplement for lots of recipes.

Naked Green Juice or the Super Food juice. My 6 year old comes from fruit and veggie lovers, and knows and understands what is healthy- but- still has some issues:) He will gulp down the green juice though. Sometimes it saves the day, and I can feel a little better!

Naked Green Juice or the Super Food juice. My 6 year old comes from fruit and veggie lovers, and knows and understands what is healthy- but- still has some issues:) He will gulp down the green juice though. Sometimes it saves the day, and I can feel a little better!

I third the Naked Juice of Super Food suggestion. We just had this discussion last night when out to eat. The waitress asked us ways to get her son to eat veggies, while watching Makenzie eating some. The ideas above are great.
Some more:
- Think about shredding carrots, zuchini, squash into spaghetti sauce.
- Make pumpkin muffins with your kids. They are easy, low fat and full of nutrients and add some raisins and shredded carrots to them. box spice cake mix, can of pumpkin, 1/2 cup water and any added veggies. Use mini muffin tin for little kid fingers.
- Think "dip dip". I know many toddlers love to dip their pretzles, veggies, fruit into sauces. Have the sauces be yogurt based, hummus based, veggie based. Easy to add nutrients that way.
- Another idea for pancakes, one that I always recommend to personal training clients and Mamas, is to add some berries and cottage cheese to them. It changes the texture, but adds protein and fruit at the same time. These are simple and you can make a bunch and freeze them.

Good luck and have fun experimenting.

I was looking through my battered copy of Moosewood Cookbook for some inspiration and came across the Cottage Cheese Apple pancakes recipe, which made me think of this thread. We had them for brunch today - huge hit with my daughter and husband. Mollie Katzen's website has even morepancakes recipes that look yummy. http://www.molliekatzen.com/archives.php

My daughter's pretty agreeable about most fruits and veggies but she seems to eat veggies more when they're mixed with something, like a scrambled egg or pasta. I love all the ideas here!

Oprah had a recent discussion on hiding fruits and veggies and mentioned Jessica Seinfeld's book "Deceptively Delicious": http://www.deceptivelydelicious.com/site/

She has a section on Oprah's website with tricks and tips for getting the kids to eat healtier: http://www.oprah.com/foodhome/food/jseinfeld/food_jseinfeld_main.jhtml

The author mentions that there has been an overwhelmingly positive response to her book and its suggestions. She even says mamas are getting together and forming puree clubs, making big vats of vita-licious purees and sharing them! http://www.oprah.com/foodhome/food/jseinfeld/about/blog/200710/blog_20071022.jhtml

Great ideas!

If you can get them in then great! Still offer the "real," visible thing b/c kids/moods/tastes change.
I know they're fried, but Terra chips come in a beet and sweet potato variety and today while chomping more than one on the way home from Fred's I thought--why not? My 1 1/2 yr. old LOVED them. They're not too salty and they are the real veggies and oil--no trans fats, either.
Anyway--for a "treat" once in a while, not bad! It also teaches kids that veggies can be versatile!

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