Hide your Veggies

As a child, I loathed vegetables!

My mother did her best to make sure we ate at least some of our veggies at dinnertime. “Just eat a little bit”, she said, “and then your palate will get used to them and you’ll even start liking them.” There was zero negotiation on this matter. So, I needed to get creative concerning the magical disappearance of my broccoli.

  • Trick #1 – hide them in your napkin! This was the easiest option since we were also responsible for clearing our plate and utensils. They key was getting the napkin super dirty. Maybe even blow your nose in it. This way no one would want to check it out.
  • Trick #2 – mid-dinner bathroom break! Although I have an extremely high gag reflex (also called a laryngeal spasm), I could hide some veggies in my mouth for the brief walk to the bathroom toilet. This method didn’t always work because cooked broccoli is obviously from the devil.
  • Trick #3 – my personal favorite as the family dog also benefitted from the ordeal. Peppi was a cockapoo and ate mostly everything until he got old and picky (how dare he!).  In the end, he would only eat liverwurst from the deli.  I can’t even say that word without gagging.  It wasn’t always perfect feeding the dog.  Sometimes he threw it back up and sometimes the broccoli/cauliflower/brussels sprouts would have an adverse reaction later that evening. I would make sure he didn’t sleep with me on those nights.

The only vegetable I didn’t have to eat was peas.  I learned later this was because my mom hated peas.  Moms do have all the power! I truly believed what my mom said, but I never did learn to love vegetables.  Over the years I’ve gotten much better.  It seems I enjoy a lot of the “stranger” produce items like artichokes, okra and eggplant, but I’m still working on some others.

As we got older, Mom started breading and frying our vegetables. We had fried broccoli and cauliflower that was delicious! However, it wasn’t the healthiest option. Isn’t fried broccoli an oxymoron? Just like eating “jumbo shrimp” or watching the “Walking Dead”?

Did you know you could hide your veggies?

When I decided to start following Trim Healthy Mama, I knew I had to get creative again in the kitchen. This time, I am the mom! I desired to feed my kids healthy foods including vegetables, but I also knew it had to taste good! My passion for THM cooking is Brobdingnagian (which means gigantic … I just learned this word and use it as much as possible). Pearl, Serene and many THM bloggers are experts at hiding veggies within their meals/recipes. Most ideas are pure genius, so I’d like to share a few on how to hide your veggies.

I think the most popular hidden veggie these days is cauliflower. Everyone is making cauliflower pizza.  There is cauli-rice, biscuits, and soups. My favorite cauli pizza is still the one in the THM cookbook called “Fooled Ya’ Pizza” (page 214). The key is to get as much of the moisture out of the cooked cauliflower as possible.  It’s a little work but completely worth it! I absolutely love the chicken fried double rice in the Trim Healthy Table cookbook.  My teenage boys love mixing in lots of brown rice to add volume for a healthy E meal. The newest trend I am seeing is adding riced cauliflower to your oatmeal while it cooks.  This I haven’t tried yet so the jury is still out. Be brave and try one of these recommendations and you won’t be disappointed!

Another veggie I love to hide in my recipes is pumpkin (or any squash really). Fall is my favorite time of year and it wouldn’t be Fall without a ton of pumpkin recipes. Pumpkin is high in vitamin A and has tons of fiber. I’ve recently been adding pumpkin to my smoothies, but there are so many ways to use it!  It could be used for a filling in ravioli or as a pasta sauce (to do this, add equal parts ricotta cheese). It also makes a great addition to cookies and fudge.  Then you have the “trimtastic” cakes in the cookbooks that allow you to use zucchini/squash or canned pumpkin. I have made them both ways but find the pumpkin makes a denser yet smoother cake.

Next up, Pearl came up with the ultimate hack in using mushrooms and called it “Hack Your Ground Beef”.  This hack makes your ground beef healthier and it adds to the bulk just in case you’re feeding a crowd … or hungry teenage boys! Mushrooms have incredible health benefits that help your heart, may prevent cancer and it’s full of antioxidants.  Pearl’s research shows that taking your mushrooms out of the fridge and sticking them on a window ledge boosts vitamin D from zero to upwards of 800-1000.  You can use ground beef, turkey, or venison. After browning the meat, you add the mushrooms to a food processor and pulse until they are tiny bits.  You can find the full recipe here on the Trim Healthy Mama website.

Okra – superfood!

It would be a crime if I didn’t finally mention the infamous, spectacular, and amazing superfood – okra. Okra is one of those vegetables that may not be as familiar to some (except in the south) but has a ton of health benefits.  It is rich in vitamin C. It also controls cholesterol levels and ensures good digestion. There are so many ways to eat okra … fried, oven roasted, pickled are just a few.  It makes a mean pot of gumbo and goes in my favorite THM soup – Zuppa Toscana (page 86). To reduce the “slime” found in okra you can cook it at high heat by sautéing, roasting, blanching, or grilling. You could also soak it in vinegar for about 30 minutes.  Then adding your okra to your recipe is painless with zero slime.  I love how the cookbook adds okra to smoothies.  I promise you won’t even know it’s there! I’m a huge fan of the Secret Big Boys in the THM cookbook pages 414-417.  My favorite way to eat it is in my air fryer.  I love the taste, so I let it go until it’s almost burned and very crispy.  Try it!  You may like it!

We’ve come a long way in “veggie land” and I hope children no longer need to “hide” their veggies by disposing them. However, my current pup just ate a huge piece of cauliflower. Now all the nasty smells will be blamed on her… poor C.C..  I hope you can utilize some of my examples if you haven’t already tried them. Give me a shout out if you do!