Clever vegetables

Hiding vegetables in meals to increase nutrient density.

For many people, mushy vegetables signal a bad taste towards trying to fit nutrient-dense vegetables into a healthy diet. Many households have turned to offering these not so appealing vegetables, hidden within the foods being served during meals. Vegetables offer a powerful nutrient-dense punch to our diets. How they are served can make a big difference on how much of them are consumed.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supports hiding vegetables in other foods as well as offering them as a standalone. Offering foods by decreasing the caloric density and increasing the proportion of hidden pureed vegetables significantly increased daily vegetable intake by at least 50 percent. This can certainly play an important role for choosy eaters. Experts encourage parents to continue to offer vegetables alongside the camouflaged vegetables within the entrees.

Persistence does pay off. One study published about how it took up to 10 tries over several weeks before the child liked an unfamiliar food. It may take a little experimentation to find recipes that work best, but there are endless possibilities. Hiding vegetables in foods increases fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, while cutting calories. This can work with adults also.

Try pureeing, grating or dicing vegetables into your favorite dishes, matching the vegetable color with the color of the food for best results. Suggestions from Michigan State University Extension on vegetables to mix into other foods include; carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, squash, cauliflower, green beans, broccoli and spinach. Be sure not to forget about the vegetables served on the side to continue encouraging the development of a taste for the vegetables on their own.

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