Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Sneaky Chefs May Not Need to Sneak So Much

Is your dinner menu "Deceptively Delicious?" Do you stash the broccoli in brownies or add pumpkin puree to pasta? 

It's not too hard to understand why we moms would be tempted to sneak around. Only 21 percent of our kids are eating their "five a day." Some of our kids can make even a piece of fruit into a battle of wills.

Need the good news?

You can come out of the pantry now — at least for those vegetables that your kids are familiar with. A recent study tested whether kids would prefer the same food including a vegetable if they knew the vegetable was there, or if they would prefer the unlabeled "stealth" version.

Interestingly, kids were just fine with knowing about the vegetables in the foods, as long as the vegetable was one they were familiar with. When it came to new vegetables the kids had not tried, there was more hesitation with the labeled version. Otherwise, the kids liked the snacks that clearly labeled the vegetable inside just as much as the unlabeled version.

"I think the bottom line is, you don't necessarily have to hide vegetables from kids if you include them in foods that actually taste good."

Couldn't have said it better myself. In fact, its similar to what I've seen at our table at home. Zucchini was disliked by my kiddo in nearly all forms until I created the Chocolate Zucchini Bread recipe in our book, The Cleaner Plate Club. Even though the recipe contains more zucchini than any other ingredient (yep, more vegetable than flour AND sugar), she will request the recipe over and over.

Once that "Aha!" moment happens and a kid finds out how good a vegetable can taste in the right recipe, it helps reduce the trial barrier to other taste adventures, too.

Here's the study if you'd like to read it for yourself:

The Influence of Labeling the Vegetable Content of Snack Food on Children’s Taste Preferences: A Pilot Study” by Lizzy Pope, MS, RD and Randi L. Wolf, PhD, MPH. It appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 44, Issue 2 (March/April 2012) published by Elsevier.