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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Should You Sneak Vegetables in Your Child's Foods?

Getting your child to eat vegetables can be a challenging task. If you've ever seen them dig a hole in their pile of cooked carrots or shovel some peas underneath their plate to make it look like they've actually eaten them, you may have considered hiding a few veggies in some of their favorite foods. But is this a good practice?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, it can be a strategy, but it shouldn't be your only strategy. If vegetables are only being hidden in other foods the child will not learn to understand and accept them, thereby creating a vegetable-hater rather than a vegetable-lover. So go ahead and add spinach to their smoothies, shredded carrots in their spaghetti sauce, or pureed cauliflower in their macaroni and cheese, but don't forget to also offer these vegetables in their undisguised form to allow the child an opportunity to touch, smell and taste them. It's important to understand that it's perfectly normal for young children to be choosy eaters. Did you know that it can take as many as 10-15 times before the child may even try or like a new food? Be patient!

While it can be easy to steam frozen vegetables in the microwave or heat canned veggies over the stovetop, even an adult can get bored with the same old routine. Mix it up by roasting fresh vegetables drizzled with olive oil in the oven or sauté them over the stovetop with oil, fresh garlic, and dried herbs. Show children gardens full of fresh vegetables, read books about nutrition and get them involved in the menu planning and cooking process. Eventually, they'll eat those veggies you so desperately want them to have.

French Toast Carrot Cake Sticks

4 large eggs

¼ cup fat-free milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup shredded carrots

5 slices whole wheat bread

1 Tablespoon coconut (optional)

Optional toppings: Yogurt, honey, maple syrup, sliced bananas

Preheat skillet on medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Mix eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla and carrots in a shallow dish. Dip the bread one at a time in the egg mixture, turned quickly to cover both sides. Place coated bread on skillet and cook both sides until the egg is cooked. Slice into strips. Sprinkle with coconut and add optional toppings.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutritional analysis per serving: 170 calories, 6 grams fat, 17 grams carbohydrate, 11 grams protein, 3 grams fiber, 240 milligrams sodium