Some of the newest products to hit the natural products expos are convenience foods for kids that don’t quite resemble the vegetables they are created from. Using vegetable purees, shreds and juices, these natural foods manufacturers are creating delicious finger foods that can fool the pickiest eater in your household (parents included).
Alt. French Fries
Most kids seem supernaturally attracted to the humble French fry, a whole food that is unfortunately pretty high in fat (and a lot also rides upon what kind of fat) and low in nutritional goodies such as vitamins, minerals and protein. Just until a couple years ago, the only alternative the food industry offered was sweet potato fries, which have the added benefit of Vitamin A, but not a whole lot more (and still high in fat).
Enter Veggie Wedgies, baked veggie fries, created to look very much like real French fries, but made from carrots, cauliflower, broccoli or apples and potatoes. Veggie Wedgies are made completely without oil are crisp up nicely to a texture that is very much like that of french fries – that’s where kids are won over. The crunchy Wedgies even go great with catsup or sour cream. Created by natural foods company Peas of Mind, the Veggie Wedgies have a very mild vegetable flavor that, according to the website, will lead to an appreciation of whole vegetables in kids as they grow. Peas of Mind also offers a pizza with cauliflower puree in the crust and veggie cakes for kids’ lunchbox meals.
Another processed food kids go to great lengths to consume is chicken nuggets. I won’t even begin to get into how grossly unhealthy the various iterations of chicken nuggets available through fast- and quick-food outlets and supermarkets can be, but let’s just say that they should be considered along with 3-scoop hot-fudge sundaes as a once-in-a-blue-moon treat.
Nuggets, Hold the Chicken
Using this beloved food disguise, natural foods manufacturer Veggie Patch has created Spinach Nuggets and Broccoli Bites with Cheese for the Dora-the-Explorer set. As with the Peas of Mind website, Veggie Patch’s stated mission is to provide nutritious vegetarian fare in convenient, ready-to-cook products.
The two nuggets products both list their featured vegetable as the first ingredient, a good sign. Also baked, the nuggets give a crunch which yields to a cheesy flavor. If they can get past the greenness of the filling, discriminating kids will gobble these up.
One Patty, Served Green
For parents who don’t want to completely shroud vegetables in a cloud of mystery, there are numerous veggie patties on the market featuring shredded (and identifiable) veggies. HappyBaby’s Veggie Tots offers organic veggie patties boasting 2 servings of vegetables per patty. The ingredient list starts with potatoes and works its way down to beans, corn, cheese, spinach and carrots bound with flour and par-cooked with soybean oil. Resembling a potato puff, kids may gravitate toward these for the handheld factor and crunch.
With all these new options, adding a variety of vegetables into your children’s meals is not only possible but also may be an argument-free dining experience. Though I am an advocate of serving whole vegetables at every meal, vegetables in disguise can be a healthy addition to your table. Keep offering the real thing even if it goes untouched. You may soon be finding your children developing a taste for vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli—all because of a little bit of smoke and mirrors.