...from baby food to toddler food to family food!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hidden Treasures

My college friend Mama P, mom to toddler G, inspired to me to write this post. While I have been philosophically opposed to the idea of "hiding" ingredients in dishes to intentionally "trick" children into eating them, as the mother of an almost-toddler I am beginning to see that it is sometimes necessary! I think that as long as the child's experience of and response to the food is handled with respect (whether it is a yucky, yummy or "meh" one), no harm can be done.  But don't forget to continue occasionally offering the hidden ingredients in their whole, exposed form to give your child the opportunity to experience their true flavor and texture! Over time (months? years? decades?) they may still learn to enjoy them.

When I was a baby, I loved to eat fresh tomatoes from the family garden. I would bite into them like an apple. The thought of doing that now makes me shudder in revulsion (and actually gag a little)! It is shocking, I know, that a foodie like me has an aversion to tomatoes, but it's true. Raw tomatoes are challenging for me. Chunky tomato salsas and sauces as well:  it's an issue of texture, not flavor.  For most of my childhood and adolescence I simply did not eat tomatoes in their whole form, but in my early twenties I began to enjoy them again: thinly sliced in a sandwich or on top of a pizza was how it began.  Then in my mid-twenties a friend served me sliced heirloom tomatoes with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, goat cheese and black pepper (*drool*).  Now every summer that is a dish that I absolutely crave! Lesson being: tastes change repeatedly over a lifetime.  So hiding food here and there is only a transitory deception: it's quite possible that the foods we hide for our children now might be a favorite sometime in the future!

William, who currently dislikes all orange vegetables!

Some "Hidden Treasure" Ingredients

pureed spinach or broccoli
pureed carrots, cauliflower, yellow squash or summer/winter squashes

Any meat gravy
ground turkey, beef or chicken
Cooked mashed fish (cod or salmon)
Pureed white beans, garbanzos, etc.

Some good "bases" to mix the hidden treasures into:

Mashed white potato
Mashed Sweet potato
Rice (I prefer brown rice because it has more nutrients and fiber!)
Macaroni and cheese (see previous post!)
Plain cooked pasta (again, I prefer whole wheat)
Couscous or orzo
Scrambled eggs/omelette (add a small amount of the hidden treasures into the whisked eggs and milk before cooking)

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