I’ve long held the belief that you should not “hide” vegetables or other non-kid favorites in foods as a method of getting kids to eat them. I cringed when my friends pounced on Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook, Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, and promptly started adding pureed vegetables and hiding it in kid favorites. Sure, your kids are eating vegetables, but will it lead to behavior change in children?
Research shows that it can take numerous exposures and model behavior from adults and peers for kids to try that first bite of a new food – or those carrots they used to like but no longer do. If the food is pureed and incorporated, in my book that does not count as a first bite. If it is presented in front of them, they are more likely to realize they like that broccoli. To me, the title of the book says it all – you are being deceptive and secretive when feeding your child.
However, I’ve learned to step off of my soap box after attending last year’s Food and Culinary Professionals (FCP) Culinary Workshop. FCP is a dietetic practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is made up of a remarkable group of members who are registered dietitian nutritionists, chefs, authors and those who have a passion for food, nutrition and cooking.
One of the great sessions at this workshop is where I rediscovered added value and where I learned to let down my guard about pureed foods. What is added value? By definition, it means “an additional benefit, esp. the amount by which the value of an article is increased at some stage of its production.” Nutrition speaking, this means making your foods more nutrient-rich, which are foods high in important nutrients for fewer calories. Added value may give your recipes added fiber, vitamins and minerals, and even important antioxidants, all of which are important for healthy bodies and growth.
This is not to say that it should in any way replace presenting kids with that bowl of broccoli at dinner or carrots at snack time, but can be used as an addition to boost the nutrient value of some of their favorite foods. With this knowledge, I’ve come to embrace Jessica Seinfeld’s strategy, but will instead refer to it as added value.
Below are some easy ways to give your recipes added value.
- Add cooked quinoa or dry oats into meatloaf, meatballs or other recipes where bread crumbs are called for.
- Sprinkle flax seed into a bowl of cereal or in yogurt.
- Add in chopped, grated or pureed fruits and veggies into most anything, such as eggs, mac and cheese, meatballs, soups and sauces.
- Add pureed cauliflower to mashed potatoes for an extra fiber and nutrient boost.
- Replace sour cream with Greek yogurt or yogurt with probiotic cultures.
- Add a scoop of whey protein powder or mashed fruits into pancake or waffle batter. Easy fruits to add are bananas, cooked apples and blueberries.
- Replace raisins with chocolate chips and use black beans as a filler in your favorite desserts. Take a look at these black bean brownie recipes on Healthy Aperture for a fiber- and protein-filled dessert alternative.
Now, check out one of my kids’ favorite added value meals, Turkey Quinoa Meatballs, with nutrition comparisons of before and after with the replacement of quinoa.