The not-so-sneaky chef: a moderate approach to getting your kids to eat veggies

Thanks to Vick’s Nature Fusion for sponsoring my Nature’s Kitchen posts on healthier eating!

To sneak or not to sneak?

While I know it’s been hotly debated since The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine came out a few years back, I can’t help but feel like the drama surrounding the “should-I-or-shouldn’t-I-hide-veggies-from-my-kids”question has been a little over-hyped.

Like most parenting decisions, I believe this is one where there are a lot of shades of gray. Does it have to be all or nothing?

On the one hand, as someone fortunate enough to have kids who genuinely like lots of fruits and veggies, I’ve never been even a little bit tempted to stash ice-cube trays full of veggie purees in my freezer hoping to steal them into the chicken nuggets while nobody’s looking (sorry, Sneaky Chef.) My kids may not always relish every healthy food I put on their plates, but they eat enough of them that overall, I feel good about their diets. Plus, one day my kids are going to be responsible for getting their own meals, and I’d like to think they’ll choose healthy foods without trickery.

On the other hand, as my formerly eat-anything daughter has become a two-year-old who exists almost solely on chicken, cheese, apples, potatoes, and noodles, I can appreciate the worry many parents feel over their kids’ less-than-perfect eating habits…even if that picky phase is developmentally normal. I think this falls squarely into the “do what works for you” department.

Personally, I take a middle-of-the-road approach to the “sneaking” issue. While hiding spinach in a cookie is just not my style, I also don’t feel the need to announce every ingredient in the beef stew or point out the whole-wheat noodles in the spaghetti I’ve just set in front of my kids.

That’s also why I like recipes like the one in this short video (look for my intro!) by celebrity chef Curtis Stone as part of the Vick’s Nature Fusion Nature’s Kitchen campaign. My kids love tacos, and replacing the meat with chili is an easy way to add more nutritional punch. Curtis’s recipe includes carrots and celery diced up so small the kids aren’t likely to notice. It’s yummy, healthy, and only moderately “sneaky”.

So go ahead: make his recipe, serve it to your picky eaters, and hope they don’t ask questions.

And if they do happen to inquire what’s in the chili, should you tell the whole truth or hedge?

Well, that’s your call, Mom.


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