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Hiding the Veggies

June 22, 2009

A comment on my friend Erin’s blog the other day got me thinking… about hiding vegetables.

Green Monsters/Spinach Smoothies/Shamrock Smoothies (I’m not sure I love the name…) have seemed to become a food blogging phenomenon. (cuz they’re delish! :D) But are you ‘hiding’ the spinach? Does it matter?


The concept of ‘hiding vegetables’ makes me think of this cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld: Deceptively Delicious. While I haven’t yet read/browsed the cookbook, the concept is to get your kids/family to eat more veggies by hiding them into ‘normal’ food. Some of these foods – brownies – seems offputting and strange to me. Seriously, spinach in brownies? Wait for the brownies to be cool before eating, or you’ll taste the spinach? ick. Too far, IMO. But is it that different than ‘hiding’ spinach in smoothies?

On the other hand, the following Q&A’s got me thinking (source)…. My seven-year-old inspects the food on his plate like a hawk (if there was a hawk that only ate bagels and macaroni). Anything with the least bit of color goes untouched. What’s a mom or dad to do?

Seinfeld: Two of my three children were exactly the same way. The vegetables, which I worked hard to prepare, not only went untouched, they were often insulted (“Eeewww…!”). And the harder I pushed them to eat good food, the harder they pushed back. We were literally ruining each other’s meals.

That conflict was the inspiration for the book. I realized I wasn’t going to win the power struggle, so I decided to join them on their turf. I started with the foods they would eat (chicken nuggets, tacos, macaroni and cheese) and I added a pureed vegetable of the same color. So if your child only eats macaroni and cheese (or noodles and butter), you should add cauliflower or yellow squash puree, which utterly disappears. 


The idea of adding squash to macaroni and cheese didn’t seem odd to me, in fact it sounded appealing, and similar to this recipe, which I’ve tried and is delish: Butternut Squash Risotto, which is essentially rice + butternut squash.  



In most cases, adding vegetables in any way possible to a meal is normal to me – spaghetti sauce is what comes to mind first. My mom always throws in whatever veggies she has lying around into her spaghetti sauce – zucchini, carrots, onions and more. To me, this is normal, and I do it too. But since you can’t see the vegetables, are they hidden?


In general, I think I draw the line at the intent of the food. Meals (spaghetti, risotto – and IMO, smoothies!) are enhanced with vegetables. Desserts are not. Desserts should be treats, not everyday foods, and thus do not need to be packed with veggies. But everyday foods/meals – why not? The more vegetables you eat, the better. It doesn’t have to be plain to be good for you! In the case of the risotto above, the rice tastes better with the butternut squash. In the case of smoothies – you can’t taste the spinach, since spinach doesn’t have much of a taste, but it does taste different than just banana – more refreshing!



And they’re uh, green – so I’m not sure the spinach is truly hidden 😉


What do you think about hiding vegetables? Do you think it’s a good practice?


(Just to be clear – I totally get that some people think these smoothies are weird. I think anything with mushrooms is gross and weird. You couldn’t pay me to eat a mushroom burger !)

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