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September 06, 2012

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Jamie, I was reading the comments to the other post with interest last night but too tired to form a coherent comment. Yes, I have been known to put beets in chocolate cake-- and ground nuts and whole wheat flour. My feeling on stealth vegetables is that it isn't a substitute for also serving healthy vegetables at meals and getting kids used to eating a wide variety of unstealthed vegetables. However-- especially in the case of picky toddlers-- I have both short term and long term dietary goals. My short term goals are getting the kid to have a healthy variety of fruits and vegetables now. Especially when I am tired and queasy with pregnancy I'm very bad at presenting a good range of options at every meal. Or even at every dinner. I try to shove them in wherever I can, stealthed or not, just because I' know I'm slipping.

And you know even if the kids aren't objecting to the vegetables in question or to any vegetables at all, I'd probably still add ingredients like beets to baked goods like cakes and vegetables like zucchini to dishes like chili just to maximize the nutrition for myself as much as for them. I started vegging up my chili and pasta sauces long before we had kids so they've always had them that way. (Not that any of them would eat my chili, it's much too spicy; but you get the idea)

My long term goals are having kids who like to eat vegetables and I feel like I'm pretty successful at that so stealthing a few veggies isn't going to subvert their lifelong eating habits. We go to the farmer's market on weekends, we have a garden. Dom and I eat vegetable dishes with relish. The kids help tend the garden and make dinners and our oldest at six will eat chard, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, broccoli and sometimes even lettuce. All of them will eat at least a one or two veggies some of the time and all of them have certain veggies that they hate. (Anthony will eat just about anything, especially in a soup, but turns up his nose at sweet potatoes and picks them out of his soup.) They all eat kale chips, so I think that's pretty much a win except that making kale chips is a painfully tedious process for me so I don't do it all that often.

Anyway, I'd probably have told the boy in question that if he couldn't detect the zucchini in question in the chili and in fact ate the chili with relish, then in fact no harm had been done to him, except to his ego. But I'm a mean mom.

I am not a gardener - my black thumb is legendary - but a friend who is great at it told me that most people overgrow their zucchini. It's her contention that an individual zucchini has most of its nutrients and flavor at about Kirby-cucumber size, and any growing after that is just "size wars." Ones the size of a banana are overgrown, and the baseball bat sized ones are only good for hitting things with so you can enjoy the "splat!" I bet most of your kids would eat half a small one for the pleasure of splatting a big one! ;-D

None of my children like eggplant or zucchini, but ALL of them eat it in the form of ratatouille over pasta. Yes, it is stewed beyone recognition, but it is delish with some olive oil and parm over penne.
I slice and salt the eggplant and let them sweat before I cook them down with lots of tomatoes, and zucchini, and garlic and onions.

Also, they will eat eggplant dip (It's dip, not eggplant dip). But i'm the only one that will eat fried eggplant sandwiches.

I'm glad you talked to your kids about their likes and dislikes. A mean mom wouldn't do that.

I'm not handy enough in the kitchen to make stealth vegetables, but a friend of mine makes a fabulous, lush, rich chocolate cake which is, by weight, about half sauerkraut.

If it makes you feel any better, I'm at least 8 or 9 years older than your oldest child and much pickier; there are lots of vegetables that your kids will eat that I won't even try because they look funny. (I do occasionally try new foods, but I've only added about 3 vegetables to my diet in the last decade.) (Now that I'm out of the house, my mother writes me emails just to tell me what they're eating for dinner that day because she knows it will gross me out. I always oblige by being theatrically grossed out. I figure she deserves a little bit of payback for dealing with me for 22 years.)

My preferred way to eat zucchini is in chocolate zucchini bread, which is rich and moist and delicious and tastes nothing like an actual zucchini.

I'm imagining the youthful cheers and smiling this morning.

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