Getting Sneaky With Veggies & Fruits

I don’t believe in “hiding” veggies and fruits to get Mason to eat them, but I recently made an exception. I found myself with 300+ ounces of homemade puree–and a toddler who wouldn’t eat any of it (with the exception of the applesauce), presumably because it was the food I fed to him when he was a baby. These days, it’s all about eating what we eat with his own spoon. So I had to be a little deceptive to avoid wasting a lot of fresh, nutritious food.

My puree bender wasn’t out of boredom or nostalgia–it was for work. I was writing a feature article for American Baby magazine (a sister publication of Parents), and part of the assignment involved some serious baby food recipe testing. By the time I was finished, I had pureed 12 fruits and veggies in about a week.

My biggest challenge was where to store the stuff. There was no way it would all fit in my freezer, so I gave about half of the puree away to local moms. It was so satisfying that my efforts would benefit my son and his little friends. Maybe I should start my own business. (More on that another time.)

Even after the giveaways, we have plenty of puree left, so I’ve been mixing it into some of Mason’s faves to give him extra vitamins and minerals. Both carrot and butternut squash purees blend beautifully with tomato sauce. Blueberry and plum purees add a fresh twist to applesauce. And I can change up his yogurt several different ways: butternut squash and peach, green bean and pear, peas and curry powder, applesauce and banana, and blueberry and pear (see the aftermath of this last combo in the photo, above!).

My plan has been working out pretty well. Mason’s been none the wiser, and I’m psyched he’s getting more vitamins. Maybe I should be a little sneakier while we’re dealing with this finicky one-year-old stage.

Do you hide veggies and fruits in your tot’s diet? Or, do you have another trick for encouraging him/her to eat  healthfully?

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  1. by peggy

    On April 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    What about using the purees in place of oil in muffins, cakes, etc. Also you could make some homemade ice cream using some of the purees. Maybe even sherbet or sorbet?

  2. by Lori

    On April 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    I’m sure you probably already do this, but whether or not you decide to “hide” them in foods, just make sure you always present the “real deal” too.

    My kids went through picky stages (I think most do) and didn’t want particular foods, but I tried not to sweat it. We just continued to consistently feed them what we were eating ourselves (as long as it was healthy), tried never to make them their own meals because they didn’t want what we were having and now they eat almost anything we put in front of them, including…their green veggies. :)

    I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that after years of consistency of lean protein, vegetables and some kind of starch (preferably whole-wheat) for dinner that they’ll gobble up every bite. And if I put out fruit too? Oh my goodness they’ll eat the entire bowl. :) Good luck!

  3. by Liz

    On April 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I definitely agree with only giving them the option to eat healthy, then they have no other choice. Once they create the habit, they will acquire the taste for it and be much more willing to eat it.

  4. by Heather

    On April 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Super smart advice, Liz! I feed Mason a (visible) fruit and veggie everything night with protein and a whole-wheat or brown-rice starch and I feel like I’m throwing veggies away a lot these days, but my hope is that they’ll catch on when he gets through this picky stage!!

  5. by Natalia Stasenko

    On April 5, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    I know how tempting it is to hide pureed veggies in toddler’s foods. But I agree with Lori, it is really important to keep serving “normal” meals with all food groups and let them explore the options. As a dietitian, I found this approach very helpful when parents need some reassurance that their child is well-nourished when trying to make it through the picky eating stage. Otherwise a lot of dinner-time pressuring may occur which is potentially very detrimental to long-term relationship with food.