Member Articles

Write an article!

To sneak or not to sneak: Deceiving your kids with vegetables

by Beth Ann Bentley  |  2374 views  |  2 comments  |        Rate this now! 

So lately the debate among moms is whether or not to sneak vegetables into things like brownies or pancakes, and is that really okay? I have friends and family that feel this is the only way to go, and other friends that don’t.

I personally have a problem with it. I think if you are that desperate that you have to put spinach in your brownies in order to get you children to eat a vegetable, then you are probably dealing with a bigger problem than poor daily nutrition. Again that is my personal opinion.

To quote our family’s pediatrician on the topic, “parents should be pursuing an honest relationship with their children and encouraging their children to have an honest relationship food.”

So let your kid have the brownie, really. It is okay. If you need nutritional back-up or validation to let them have it, here you go: dark chocolate and cocoa have antioxidant properties. There are eggs and milk in that brownie too. Also this is a great opportunity to discuss moderation and the concept of discretionary calories: the 10% of your daily caloric intake that can be dedicated to the pursuit of sugary, fattening treats. This is my favorite part of the day’s caloric intake by the way. I can’t put it any better than Catherine Newman in her article Stealth-Vegetable Smackdown in the April edition of Wonder Time Magazine.

Now let me make one thing clear, I am not opposed to creative tactics in the universal effort of getting our children to embrace eating vegetables. I just believe we should be eating vegetables that look like vegetable and smell like vegetables and taste like vegetables.

So eat them raw, steam them, sauté them, roast them, bake them, grill them, puree them, use them to enhance the flavor of eggs, meatloaf, meatballs, burgers, pastas, rice dishes, sauces, stew and soups, etc. Just don’t conceal them in chocolate, or burry them in sugary treats or turn them into pancakes smothered with maple syrup, with the intention of that being the sole way you introduce vegetables in your child’s diet.

Here are some tried and true tips compiled from every parenting-type magazine, pediatrician newsletter or pamphlet, and leading books on children and eating:

  • Keep trying! Just because your child did not like something the first time they tried it, doesn’t mean that they won’t like it eventually.
  • A little butter, salt & pepper, garlic, cheese, bacon, pesto, lemon zest, dips and dressings go a long way. It is easier to wean your children off the condiments than get them to eat vegetables later in life.
  • Encourage kids to take at least a “no thank-you” bite. You don’t have to eat all of it, but you do have to give it a good honest try.
  • While I am usually okay with bribing my children, I am not okay with bribing with or for food, so never make dessert contingent on eating all of the food, even the vegetables on your child’s plate.
  • A tip from our household: I will ask my children to eat one bite of vegetable for each year old they are before I will give them seconds on pasta, potatoes or rice. If they are sill hungry for additional carbs after eating some vegetables, then they can have it. Most of the time they are not.

About the Author

Beth Ann Bentley is the founder of

Read more by Beth Ann Bentley

2 comments so far...

  • don't sneak food in either. Things are what they are. She has favorites (currently broccoli & green beans) but others make appearances now and again.
    I don't make dessert/seconds contingent on eating everything, but I DO make it contingent on trying everything. If we're having something she loves as main dish, I don't keep it back, but I'll do, say a spoon of each. More of the favored meat or side can come after each bite/spoonful has been tried.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mich on 1st December 2009

  • I really think that the kids dislike of vegetables starts with how you feed them from the time that they begin eating solid foods. Everyone gives them veggies to start and a lot of parents that I know drifted away from that as soon as their kids were able to eat finger foods. I think that you have to keep vegetables as a consistent part of every meal from 6 months on if you want them to continue eating them and severely limit the amounts of greasy and/or processed foods. I have some friends whose kids will only eat french fries or mac and cheese but it is because these things were introduced early on and the kids learned Yum...grease and no longer wanted vegetables. One of my friends starting giving her kid french fries at 8 months at almost every meal out of convenience and now this is the only type of food he wants. This started to even happen with my son after vacation when he was eating out with us. He normally would scarf down veggies but we fed him from our plates on our trip. After a week of that, he was refusing veggies. It took a while to get him back into the veggie routine but we managed to do it. However, if I am giving him spaghetti, or anything else that he loves, I have to keep the spaghetti in the kitchen until he finishes his veggies because if he sees the spaghetti first, he will refuse his veggies. So, I guess my whole point is that I think that if you keep them on the straight and narrow to begin with, this problem should never come up.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by oceans mom on 9th January 2009