Some people just don’t like vegetables. Some people even refuse to try certain kinds – sometimes on principle. Although I believe that people should try things before they decide they don’t like them and, in general, I’m not in favor of sneaking stuff into food, I think there’s a big upside, for both kids and adults, to hiding veggies in other dishes.
What’s The Upside Of The Stealth Maneuver?
The reason to be subversive: to increase the amount of vegetables (which most of us don’t eat enough of) for (1) health and for (2) calorie control.
There is science behind hiding veggies along with serving them solo. According to a recent study, when preschoolers were fed foods lightened up by adding hidden pureed vegetables they increased their daily vegetable intake between 50 and 73 percent. Amazingly, the kids said the foods had similar taste whether there were no added vegetables or there was triple or quadruple added vegetable content. And, they ate 12% fewer calories eating food with the quadrupled vegetables compared to the food with no added vegetables.
The criticism is that kids won’t ever develop a taste for veggies on their own if you hide them But, there’s no reason to favor one method over the other. Try camouflaging veggies, but serve them in plain sight, too. Think of the deception as a healthy choice.
It Isn’t Just For Kids
There are plenty of adults who don’t eat enough veggies – or who don’t eat them at all. Certainly not a healthy strategy. Research supports hiding vegetables in foods is good for adults, too. The hidden veggies increase fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. And, what a bonus way to cut calories! Like the kids, adults find no significant differences in fullness or taste.
What To Do
The possibilities are enormous. Try experimenting with recipes to find out what works best. Try adding grated, diced, mashed, or pureed vegetables to some dishes. Or dump in a jar of already pureed baby vegetables. There’s no reason adults can’t eat them, too.
To be really subversive, try to match the color of the added vegetable to the color of the food you’re putting it into. For example, it’s hard to see pureed cauliflower in mac and cheese or some types of squash in meatballs, meatloaf, or meat sauce.
Some Easily Hidden Vegetables
These are some vegetables that have a high “sneaky quotient” – in other words, they combine nicely and go undercover pretty easily:
- Sweet potatoes
- Green beans
- Black/red beans
- Lima beans
Any other suggestions?