This is a guest post about the art of veggie smuggling from Brigette from Honey and Bean. I asked her to guest post after reading her blog. It’s awesome and you really should pay her a visit!
After sleep, food seems to be one of the biggest struggles for most parents. A few of us are blessed with angelic eaters who will happily chow down on Kohlrabi and Kale, but for the rest of us, the hours leading up to mealtimes can spike a heart rate like a half marathon.
My daughter started out as an angelic eater, happily munching on absolutely everything… until she wouldn’t anymore. Gradually she cut out more and more, she would look at her plate, back up at me, and simply say ‘no’. Before I knew it, she was living on a diet of sultanas, water crackers, and plain porridge. I had to step up my game. Veggie smuggling can be an art form, and while I haven’t quite reached Picasso level yet, I’ve done ok.
One of the best ways to sneak in fruit and veggies, is to start with what they know, and most importantly, like. One of my daughters favourites has always been pancakes, so I used that as one of my first forays into hiding vegetables. My ‘Dinner Pancakes’ are still a winner years later, I make a basic pancake batter (1 egg, 1 cup self raising flour, 1 cup milk) and add 1/4 cup frozen corn kernels, and half a zucchini grated with a microplane. Fry into pikelets, and serve with some sour cream on top. They also freeze brilliantly, and can be defrosted in the microwave for those days when cooking is the last thing on your mind.
My favourite way to sneak veggies into food is still a good ol’ puree. Beetroot is one of my favourite vegetables to use, it has a beautiful sweetness when roasted, and the colour blends into so many different foods so your little one is none the wiser. I dice a large beetroot, drizzle with olive oil, and roast in the oven a 180 degrees until soft, then puree in my Thermomix, but a stick blender or food processor would work just as well. This puree can be added to chocolate cake for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals, added to pasta sauce where the colour and texture blends in, or my favourite, added to cupcake icing for a gorgeous pink colour. They’ll never know. Pureed roasted capsicum is also a favourite to add into dishes such as pasta sauce, chilli, or add to a pizza base. Never underestimate the power of a puree while smuggling in veggies!
During the height of my daughters fussiness, I would still serve plain vegetables on the side along with the vegetables hidden in her meal, hoping that she would at least try to taste some. She normally wouldn’t. Occasionally I could convince her to try some broccoli by pointing out they needed a haircut, and she would nibble the tops off the florets, but lets be honest… it was still a rare occurrence. I’ve found I’ve always had more luck after making vegetables fun, one of our favourite weekend markets sells veggie-cream, Ice cream made with veggies! Make no mistake, we don’t buy it for the nutrition, it is still predominantly cream and sugar, but it can add that element of fun that wasn’t previously there and open up the doors to trying the same veggie in a different way. My daughters favourite is the cauliflower ice-cream, and after having a cone she decided to carefully nibble at some cauliflower cheese.
My daughter is turning five this year, and only slowly emerging from her fussiness. It can be so hard when you’re holding a plate with yet another rejected to meal to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and trying to imagine your child eating something as simple as a green bean, but go easy on yourself.
Parenting is a hard job, so pick your battles. On your fourth rejected dinner of the week? Weetbix and bananas it is, in twenty years it won’t matter that occasionally you threw your hands up and offered cereal instead. I’m yet to go out to a meal with an adult who orders plain porridge, sultanas, and water crackers, so the end is there, and it will not last forever. In the meantime, offer plain veggies, but don’t make a big deal if they are refused – we all know they will be for a while, take a deep breath, puree some beetroot and capsicum, fry zucchini into pikelets, grate veggies into muffins, and if that fails, give them some Weetbix and try again tomorrow.
Brigette-Renee is the blogger behind Honey and Bean. She is a mama, nurse, and well seasoned chef of all things Fish Finger and Chicken Nugget.
You can check here out on instagram here and on her blog here.