Does anyone else have picky kids? No? Oh. Well, I guess this “sneaking veggies and avoiding food fights” post is just for me then. But just in case you want to read along just for fun…
Phew. Just when I thought I’d been parenting long enough to have been around all the blocks multiple times, God gave us more precious kids and said, “Here you go. Start all over again. It’ll be just like the first go-’round except that it’ll be also very different. All of these kids are dealing with trauma of some sort. Also, some of them only like sugar dipped in sugar.”
God didn’t say exactly that. He actually said, “I have called you to this. You are equipped for this, even when you feel like you aren’t. I am with you. I will never forsake you. I will give you everything you need. You can trust me. You are loved.”
What a God we serve! Never have I realized my need for Him more than now. And I’m not talking about my work in the kitchen. Clothing and feeding these babes is the “easy” part compared to the rest (though I need Him for the physical work too, no doubt). He continually teaches me what to do and how to do this life. Praise Him!
So here we are. I’m too busy to focus on food compared to how much I used to focus on it in the past. At the same time I:
- Still have to think about food quite a bit because I feed a lot of people three meals (plus snacks) every day. This doesn’t happen if I don’t think about it and plan for it.
- I do still care about nutrition, even if I have simplified and even if I don’t feel bad if I serve food like frozen pizza and frozen chicken nuggets several times each week.
The biggest way I make sure we are all getting plenty of nourishment, even when I serve compromise foods is this: We have fruits and veggies with every meal.
Awesome, right? Right. Except that some of our kids are very picky, and some of them have sensory/texture issues, so I can’t just say, “go eat your green beans.” Because someone might actually throw up. Good times.
Sneaking Veggies and Avoiding Food Fights
We’ve tried idea after idea with multiple kids, and I can’t say that we’ve settled on what works for each of them. But we are making some progress, and for that, I am very thankful. When it comes to food, we simply want our kids to be nourished and healthy, and we are doing what we can to help make that happen.
Veggies are the hardest for some of our kids to get down. So I’m having fun being creative with ways to sneak them into our meals.
Let me be clear:
When I say “sneak veggies” I’m not necessarily trying to pull a fast one on our kids. In fact, our kids are in the kitchen watching me and “helping” me so they actually watch me sneak veggies all the time.
It’s been super good for our 6-year-old and 8-year-old to be a part of our kitchen life. They are learning by helping and watching. But we’ve learned with these two (who have experienced so much trauma, have been lied to, and have had life yanked out from under them too many times) that we have to be fully honest always.
So we “sneak” veggies simply by adding them to meals in any way we can.
And our kids know that we do this. They think it’s fun!
Here are some examples:
1. When I make broth, I add as many veggies as I can, especially onions and carrots. After it’s cooked, I blend the veggies and whisk them into the broth. As a result, we have orange, flavorful broth, and in almost every batch of soup I make, it looks like “cheesy soup.” Ha. Everyone loves my soup, and no one thinks about the hidden veggies that add so much flavor and nourishment.
2. I tear pieces of spinach into our quesadillas or sandwiches.
This works great, and not one kid complains! In fact, the first time our 6-year-old saw me tearing spinach into our quesadillas, she was like, “Oh, is that how we’re going to eat our veggies tonight?” :)
You betcha, girlfriend!
Later, when she was eating her quesadillas, with a big grin she said, “Mom, I can’t even tell there’s spinach in here! I can’t even taste it!”
One day I made the most delicious sandwiches with whatever buns I had on hand, shredded chicken, ranch dressing, torn up greens, and sliced cheese melted on top. They were SO DELICIOUS. And we couldn’t taste the greens at all.
3. We fill our smoothies with greens.
The kids put the greens into the blender themselves, laugh about the weird color of the smoothies, then guzzle them down. They love that they are getting both fruits and veggies in this treat, and think that they are winning over the veggies. Because they are. Take that, spinach.
4. We make pumpkin muffins and pie.
Is this stretching it just a little bit? Yes. But listen: there’s pumpkin in pumpkin pie, is there not? There is. So it’s a vegetable pie. Amen.
(Also, is pumpkin technically a fruit? What even is a gourd?)
These Flourless Pumpkin Muffins are especially nourishing. :)
5. I add veggies to spaghetti sauce.
Ha, check this out and learn a little bit more deeply how weird I actually am.
Three of our foster babes qualify for the WIC program, so we get quite a few containers of baby food every month. This is super nice, and because I have so many I’ve started using some of the pureed veggies in creative ways. Last week I stirred pureed pumpkin into our spaghetti sauce and no one questioned it as they asked for seconds and thirds.
6. I added the same veggies to a pot of Chili.
We add shredded cheese, sour cream, and fritos to our bowls of chili. So when I added pureed butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots to a big pot of chili, no one noticed!
If you don’t have pureed baby food (I won’t buy it once our WIC benefits run out), I suggest adding canned pureed pumpkin or blended cooked carrots – anything you have on hand!
7. We learned that we can add greens to cake mix. For real.
I’ve got the specifics and “recipe” coming up soon. Because this might be the most fun way to eat salad, ever!
What ways have you found to add more veggies to your family table?