According to a research study published in April 2011 in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adding pureed vegetables to dishes such as casserole or macaroni and cheese results in reduced caloric intake and increased nutritive value of meals. And while this can be a great weight management technique for grown ups, when playing a “sneaky chief” with kids ‘meals, it is best to play fair.

Kids are smart and they will find out the truth sooner or later.  And then they might not only continue rejecting veggies in their natural form but also refuse to eat the meals with the good stuff “hidden” in them. To prevent this disaster scenario, follow these rules:

  •  Make sure your children know what they are eating. If revealing the pureed cauliflower in their favorite mac and cheese can result in a dinner strike, wait till they gobble down the meal and then disclose the ingredients in a matter-of-fact way.
  • Next step – get them to help you prepare the food next time. This way, they will get an opportunity to see and explore the vegetable in their raw state, smell, touch and taste it before you turn it into a puree together.
  • Ask them for new ideas and experiment together. Can we add blueberry puree to a brownie recipe? You bet! Carrots to tomato soup? Why not!
  • Always, always serve real, minimally processed vegetables and fruit with all meals, even with those that are “nutritionally enhanced” with super-purees. This will ensure the crucial exposure, a foundation for learning healthy eating habits for the rest of the life.

 Here is a description of  a few veggie and bean purees and how they can be added to a variety of foods.

 Preparation:

  •  All purees can be made out of a single ingredient or a combination of ingredients of the same color.
  • All vegetable purees are prepared in a similar way: cubed, steamed and blended into a puree with a couple of tablespoons of water.
  • Dry beans will have to be cooked in advance and then pureed. Canned beans can go into the blender or food processor straight after rinsing them under running water. If the mixture is too thick, add a few tablespoons of water when blending. Edamame can be just steamed; it does not need to be cooked for a long time.
Super-puree What is it made of? Where to add it?
White puree CauliflowerZucchiniWhite beans Mac and cheese – substitute 1/3 to ½ of cheese sauceLasagna – substitute 1/3 of tomato sauceTomato or any other soup – to your taste
Green puree SpinachBroccoliGreen beansEdamame

Kale

Pasta tomato sauce – substitute 1/3Lasagna – substitute 1/3 of tomato sauceChili  or any soup – to your taste
Brown puree Red kidney beans, Mushrooms Any ground meat recipe (meatloaf, meatballs, burgers) – substitute 1/3 to ½ of ground meatChili  or any soup – to your tastePasta tomato sauce – substitute 1/3Lasagna- substitute 1/3 of tomato sauce
Orange puree CarrotsSweet potatoButternut squash Baked desserts such as chocolate cake, carrot cake, muffins – substitute half of the fatMac and cheese – substitute 1/3 to ½ of cheese saucePasta tomato sauce – substitute 1/3Lasagna – substitute 1/3 of tomato sauce

References:

Spill MK, Birch LL, Roe LS, Rolls BJ. Hiding vegetables to reduce energy density: an effective strategy to increase children’s vegetable intake and reduce energy intake. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Sep;94(3):735-41. Epub 2011 Jul 20.

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