Mom Poll – Tips to Sneak In Food Kids Won't Eat

| March 9, 2009 | 7 Comments

It’s the ultimate parenting dilemma – how to get your kids to eat healthy foods.

There’s always the theory that if you never give things like candy and cookies, pizza and McDonalds to them that kids will never know what they are missing – until a friend of yours catches your kiddo in the corner at a birthday party pounding Smarties in secret.

Most of us have wild day dreams about our kids sitting down to a lovely evening meal, broccoli and swiss chard on the plate next too a well-rounded meal. Most of us also know the reality that 95% of the time that is complete fantasy.

But, moms are not to be trifled with when it comes to nutrition.

The other day I was rifling through the New York Times and came across a piece on the 11 super foods our kids aren’t eating. Interestingly, most of the foods on the list were ones that we can get quite easily at local farms.

So, I checked in with some OBE mamas to see how they snuck in the good stuff and – just so you are prepared – they were genius.

Your kids will never know:)

I’ll start it off:

I thankfully have a kid who will try just about anything that isn’t stringy. But, if it smells the slightest bit weird or has anything that resembles a string, it is entirely inedible in her eyes. So, I end up doing a lot with sauces and eggs.

I chop up swiss chard and other greens super fine and throw it into the morning eggs on a regular basis. Especially if the tiny person is helping me, she loves to eat anything that has a story to it. So, there’s plenty of renaming of meals going on here.

We get the greens in other ways, like smoothies. And, I always make sure she has her fish oils. I also love Tree Haverner’s Mac N Beans version of pasta faggioli.

Meat balls are the best of all worlds. They are super fun to eat and, cut up really fine, veggies and other goodies are unrecognizable.

- Robin, mom of 1

Pumpkin is a favourite fruit for “sneaky mom tricks” in our house!  Every pasta sauce served in our house has a can (or two cups of frozen pureed) pumpkin added to it.  It has a fairly neutral taste, and even if the kids don’t really like it, they can’t pick it out!

Stacey’s Sneaky Sauce
1 jar of your favourite pasta sauce (our is Simply Natural Organic Pasta Sauce)
1 can pureed pumpkin
1 cup dried red lentils, cooked (takes about half an hour)
assorted veggies from fridge, optional

Simmer until pasta sauce and pumpkin until hot.  Add additional veggies, if using and simmer until soft.  Add cooked red lentils.  Serve on hot pasta with parmesan cheese, if desired.

We processed all of our Shamrock Farms jack o lanterns into pureed pumpkin, so whenever the kids see me getting a bag of pumpkin from the freezer, they get excited.  So we make “Dora muffins” and “Ghost cookies” (their jack o lanterns).

Frozen blueberries are a snack unto themselves in this house.  Ever since the kids were babies, we have given them frozen blueberries straight from the freezer.  Because of the sugars and such, the berries don’t freeze hard, so the kids can still chew them.  They are a choking hazard though, so we make sure the kids are supervised with this snack.

For greens, we are just now trying our first sprouts experiment, getting the kids involved in growing their own sprouts.  We will see how that pans out in the next few days!

Cinnamon… we mix a small amount of sugar and cinnamon in a small spice bottle and let the kids shake it on their oatmeal or cereal in the morning.  They like to be able to control the amount, so it works well.

We add finely shredded cabbage to stirfries.  My daughter thinks it’s bean sprouts!

- Stacey, Mom of 2

Muffins are my best friend. You can hide anything in muffins.

Whatever kind of muffins I make they always have protein powder, ground flax seeds and cinnamon in them.  Pumpkin, carrots, prunes, seeds, blueberries etc. are easy to add as well.   I find it so hard to make their lunches and my daughter always gets muffins instead of a sandwich (her bread just goes all yucky by lunchtime).

Pancakes are good for hiding stuff in too – I always add protein powder, ground flax, cinnamon and berries to pancakes.  Pureed prunes are good in plain yogourt – you can buy jars of babyfood prunes and mix them into plain yogourt.

Spaghetti  and lasagna are faves of mine too – they are the dinners that everyone likes and probably the only time I don’t hear things like “ewwww, what’s that, I’m not eating that…..”.  Depending on how much you need to hide stuff you can either chop the veggies or for those who can identify every little chunk – blend them.  I will steam spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage etc. , blend it and throw it into the sauce.  Can’t help you with the sardines though – blech:).

The kitchen and I are not best friends and cooking is not my forte, I’m looking forward to reading other people’s ideas.  Apparently the book “Deceptively Delicious” is really good – I don’t have it, but have heard great reviews.

- Marieke, Mom of 2

C is a fairly unadventurous eater. I wouldn’t go as far as saying she is picky but she definitely has her likes and dislikes. :) Foods that are no problem for us are:

Cinnamon which we sprinkle in everything from sauces to pancakes and cookies.

Pomegranate she will eat no problem and I love that it takes her a lot of time to do so.

Pumpkin is snuck into muffins, cookies, and smoothies.

The greens we are working on and seems to be a bit more desirable if we include some ranch dip for her :)

- Andi, mom of 2

Some of these foods my kids love anyway and will eat them on their own: beets (steamed to be quite soft) ~ I use the bribe that it will turn your pee pink, so they think that is pretty cool.

Cinnamon I put on apple slices and then it is dual purpose as it covers up the fact that apples will turn brown throughout the day, pomegranate, they just eat, and frozen blueberries.

The other foods I have recipies that I sneak things into, turmeric would sneak into macaroni and cheese (as well as pureed sweet potato, pumpkin or anything orange) and I will often stir in tuna as well.

Greens I have a quiche recipe that will take in a lot of spinach, and I think you could substitute other greens as well.  My kids will also eat wraps (loaded with greens) if they think it is mine and want to share it.

Prunes can be sold as raisins for giants too.

- Carol Anne, mom of 2

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Category: EAT LOCAL, Food & Your Family

About the Author ()

Robin Rivers is the Project Development Director for Vancouver-based Mherge Media Group. Often can be found leaping tall buildings with the help of great friends. Predisposed to odd hats and the color orange. In love with imagination, her kids and that crazy guy who married her.

Comments (7)

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  1. Stacey says:

    Thanks Carol Anne for the cinnamon and apple trick. My 5 year old like cinnamon and hates brown apples, but I hadn’t thought to cover the brown. We tried lemon juice to prevent the brown, but she doesn’t like the taste.

  2. JoAnne says:

    I have the “Deceptively Delicious” cookbook and it is pretty cool. I remember when the author was on Oprah and she had made a bunch of samples for Oprah to try and there was only one recipe that she felt she could taste the “hidden ingredient” (M – if you want to borrow it email me!)

    I love the raisins for giants!

  3. My little guy likes a big scoop of canned pumpkin added to his pain yogurt. I add a touch of honey and some wheat germ…yum !?

    When I nannied my friends’ twins, we added vegetables to yogurt to make food no adult would touch but the kids found fun–just a pea here and a carrot there to start with, then they liked adding the veggies themselves and would load ‘em into the yogurt and eat it all.

    We use “dips” for my boy. Oh, dip your food in yogurt, nut-butters, flax oil…fun, fun, fun :)

  4. Kathy says:

    I was unsure about portion sizes for kids and happened upon a cool website that helped me figure out how much of everything the kids should be getting daily. You can build and print out a portion pyramid for each of your kids at

  5. Stacey Robinson says:

    Can anyone help me. My sister-in-law’s 3 yr. old will not eat solid foods at all.
    Just yogurt and ensure. My sister-in-law is very worried.

  6. Robin Rivers says:

    I am no professional in this area. But, if it were me, I would take my tiny person to the doctor. When my daughter won’t eat, it’s usually because something hurts like her throat or her stomach.

    That sounds really scary. I’m sorry.

  7. Ann says:

    Hi Stacey,

    A doctor is a good start. You don’t say whether this is a temporary or a long term situation. If it is long term, she may have some behavioural or sensory eating issues. If it is long term she could ask the doctor whether a referral to an occupational therapist would be helpful. I don’t know where your sister-in-law lives but I have a friend who is fantastic at what she does and works with kids who have feeding difficulties in the Toronto area. Her website is She used to be from the Comox Valley :)

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