There’s nothing wrong with bumping up recipes with hidden veggies, as long as you offer these same veggies to your child in their raw, whole state too.
The bottom line is that you can never have too many vegetables in a child’s diet and going over the recommended five veggie servings a day is nothing but beneficial. Disguising vegetables becomes appropriate if a child is going through a fussy eating stage that’s making it impossible to reach even half of their recommended daily intake.
Little ones generally don’t know the ingredients of their food. They don’t know that an egg or almond meal goes into cupcakes, or that vanilla adds a specific taste. Sometimes too much pressure and fuss about adding veggies to children’s meals can lead to parent guilt and confusion, adding to the meal-time stress – which our children can pick up on.
It’s always best to involve your child in the process of adding veggies to their food. Prepare a chocolate muffin with added zucchini together, and see the surprise on their little face when they realise that it tastes delicious!
It’s a good idea to work within the framework of your child’s favourite foods. If they love pancakes or pikelets, make them with pumpkin and sweet potato puree, if they love pasta, make your own pasta sauce and puree peas, onions, garlic and zucchini into it. Veggies can also be added to muffins and biscuits too.
I always encourage getting little ones actively involved in the kitchen as soon as possible. Talking through which ingredients and vegetables are used and why, asking for their help in mashing, blending or laying sliced vegetables out on a baking tray will offer them valuable and incidental insight into how veggies can change form and shape. Allowing them to see how they can doctor their own food to make it healthy also helps to set them up with a powerful sense of control, knowledge and awareness.