Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Hiding Veggies–Good or Bad?

A new study finds a positive impact of adding puréed vegetables to children’s meals.

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Hiding veggies - little girl eating spaghetti. Your kids don’t gobble up the veggies? We’ve all been there. Young children are just beginning to develop their senses, and vegetables have natural bitter components to them that don’t naturally taste good.  

Kids are very smart and very observant when it comes to fruits and vegetables. They can spot that onion or piece of broccoli a mile away. My brother used to feed his vegetables to the plant near his seat at the table. Exposure, education, encouragement, and even hiding vegetables in certain foods were the key to get me to eat my vegetables.

Although the topic of hiding vegetables remains controversial, several authors including The Sneaky Chef Missy Chase Lapine and Jessica Seinfield have advocated for adding vegetable purées to a variety of foods as a way to increase fruit and vegetable consumption.

A new study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supports hiding vegetables, as it found a positive impact of adding puréed vegetables to children’s meals. Researchers from Penn State University served veggie-enhanced entrees to 39 children for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The children consumed twice as many vegetables and didn’t even seem to notice.

Ultimately, the goal is to get your children to love vegetables (Ok, at least tolerate and swallow vegetables) and to want to eat them. I try to involve my 2- and 4-year old whenever I take them to the store by letting them help me pick out the vegetables for dinner. Again, exposure and education are key—otherwise they will never learn!

Obviously, they are probably not going to eat 5 servings a day if they are left to their own devices. So, here are a few ways you can get creative to add a few more fruits and veggies into your kids’ daily diets.

  • Puree vegetables into pasta sauce.
  • Shred some carrots or sliced mushrooms into meatloaf or chili.
  • Make smoothies.
  • Put it on pizza.
  • Make mashed potatoes with cauliflower.
  • Add carrots or zucchini into bread or muffins.

Remember, it can take 10 exposures to a food before it is accepted!

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Tags: Cooking Healthy , Healthy Eating , Nutrition , Nutrition Trends , Quick and Healthy

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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