Secret Agent in the Kitchen

When my firstborn was getting to the age where he could try different foods, he instinctively knew the difference between broccoli and a crispy, deep-friend pork rind . . . he chose the pork rind! From that moment on, I became a secret agent in the kitchen for getting healthy food into my children without letting on that even one vitamin gave it’s life for the meal at hand.

Macaroni and cheese was pretty popular for Fridays as the children would eat it and the budget could afford it. However, the vegetable escorting the mac & cheese to the table was often ignored. Steamed cauliflower to the rescue! No, it wasn’t in plain sight otherwise I wouldn’t have a story to share here. Nope, I steamed it until tender, pureed it, and then mixed it in with the cheese sauce. A two-fold benefit as it reduced the amount (and expense!) of the cheese and added some nutrients and fiber to the dish. Cauliflower also goes nicely undercover mixed into mashed potatoes, too.

Finely-grated and steamed carrots found a home in my meatloaf. The children loved the brown, crusty exterior of the meatloaf and the juicy interior. This manner of vegetable subterfuge went on for a long time until my older son found a suspicious bit of bright orange in his serving and immediately set off the sibling alarm that Mom was trying to poison them with carrots! To this day, however, they never found out that I was browning finely-diced carrots and onions and mixing them into what I called hamburger pizza sauce topping for pizza dinners.

The older they got, the sneakier I had to be. The smoothie fad came to the rescue. They loved a thick, icy smoothie and with the bonus of a straw, they felt I was earning a good mother badge. We used lots of different fruits and, still unbeknownst to them to this day, a few vegetables fell into the mix. Their peach and citrus often included carrot! When I made a very berry strawberry smoothie, a tomato or two often found it’s way into the drink. They loved the idea of a smoothie that was bright green and never quite realized that kale or spinach had come into play.

Perhaps, the infusion of secret vegetables into their growing systems, gave them a grownup disposition towards vegetables. These days, we practically have to fight for a serving of vegetables for ourselves at the dinner table. Eggplant has even become a popular ingredient to the dinner meal. And if you really want to witness a confrontation, watch them descend upon a platter of oven-roasted Kale.

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