Way at the top of my list of kitchen pet peeves is fake food (such as carcinogenic add-ins and synthetic dyes). Also up there is the way some parents lie and sneak to get their kids to eat healthy food. I think it's one of the worst things we can do to our children.
The problem? Anything based on lying doesn't help kids develop a healthy and long-lasting relationship with food.
Instead, for three big reasons, it seems to do the opposite. First, if you put a cup of spinach in the brownie mix, the amount of nutrients your children will get from one serving is insignificant. Second, this switcheroo may encourage your kids to eat a few extra brownies to get to the spinach, thinking they are getting more servings of vegetables. And third, when they leave your house, there will be no spinach in brownies, so they will not know about good food's nutritional benefits and how to cook and eat delicious greens.
Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Vegetables
I get that parents are tired, and it's enticing to believe that grinding up carrots and veggies into your pasta sauce is "working." But believe me, there are ways to get kids to eat vegetables without hiding them. And it requires far less effort than the grind-and-sneak method -- and it will teach your children about health, nutrition, cooking, and agriculture, all in one fell swoop.
- Start serving veggies to your kids with every lunch and dinner while they are young.
- Offer all kinds of vegetables. If they spit out the spinach, try Romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, green beans, cucumbers, asparagus, red bell peppers, and so on.
- Don't overcook or "mushify" your veggies. And avoid canned vegetables. Kids like crunch and a good taste. Just like adults.
- Make sure you model eating and enjoying vegetables.
Healthy Recipe: Roasted Swiss Chard
Yes, children will eat this! When you roast chard and salt it, it is similar in flavor to a crunchy chip.
Makes 4 servings
4 cups Swiss chard, tough ribs removed and chopped into ½-inch strips (about 1 to 2 heads)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
dash of kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
2. Lay chopped chard out over one to two rimmed baking sheets. Do not over pack chard or it will steam and take longer to become crispy.
3. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil until the chard is lightly coated. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
4. Roast for 5 to 7 minutes or until several pieces are crispy.
For an extra zip, splash with balsamic vinegar at the end.
Per serving: 17 calories, 1 g protein, 1 g fat, 1 g fiber, 101 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 50%.