Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Case of the Hidden Vegetables

'He that hides can find' - 15th Century Proverb...
Let’s face it, lots of kids don’t really like eating vegetables and it seems to be an obsession among parents to get their kids to eat the darn things.  The suggested approach from food writers, nutritionists seems to be;
a)     disguise/ hide them  (see Annabel Karmel’s Hidden Vegetable Sauce).  I have moral reservations about this.  OK, I have, in the past, pulped perfectly good courgettes into tomato sauce to go on pasta.  But isn’t this just plain deception?  I mean, if I knew an adult who didn’t like carrots, I wouldn’t dream of grating them raw into his bolognese sauce as I know best.  Likewise, I wouldn’t disguise meat in a  vegetarian’s food to widen their palate.  My poor compromise is to serve up the hidden vegetable in its complete form alongside the hidden version.  At least then they’ll be able to recognise a vegetable in a line up.  You might also get the pleasure of them eating the hidden vegetable while simultaneously telling you that they don’t like it. 

b)     The second idea seems to be to dress vegetables up into some pretty picture on the child’s face to make a smiley face, a sailing ship etc.  I did this once and my kids just stared at my work of art in disbelief and wouldn’t touch it. (Annabel Karmel’s Crunchy Salmon Fishcakes).  Perhaps they thought my artistic effort so fantastic they couldn’t possibly destroy it.  Life is definitely too short to be doing this. Besides, I personally think this sort of cuisine should be saved for  serving up to teenagers with the purpose of slightly unnerving them or when they bring their new girl/boyfriend home to meet you for the first time. 
PS Nothing will hide broccoli


  1. I love your idea of smiley face daft food for teenagers!
    My children are pretty good at eating vegetables on the whole.
    My 5 year old will eat anything so long as you say what it is called.
    My 10 year old is ok with veg but very anti-meat except for sausages. The world's first sausage-eating vegetarian.
    My little girl falls somewhere in between her two brothers eating well unless her older brother does his "this is the work of the devil" routine if he does not like something

  2. We really struggle with meat too - they don't like the consistency and are suspicious of food that they can't identify. We've a slightly higher hit rate if they've helped prepare it themselves.