Trix are for Kids

There are certain times, as a parent, that you are forced to lie to your kids.  Times in which you might not be completely forthright with your children for their own sake.  An obvious example would be the Grand Poobah of all fibs, Santa Claus.  Also in this category . . . The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, Buddy the Elf.  The administration of these fables are ostensibly to allow them to live in a fantasy world of childhood for as long as possible.  To experience the joy of magic in what they will all too soon discover is a very un-magical grown up world.

But besides that magical realm of mystery and fantasy, there are also practical reasons to obfuscate the truth when dealing with your children.  And those times, at least in my home, are centered around food consumption.

THOSE ARE HERBS

My oldest son is a pretty picky eater.  He doesn’t like a lot of things, and he is very hesitant to try new things.  One of the foods that he has long ago decided that he dislikes is SPINACH.  Not that it is abnormal for a kid to dislike spinach.  I was not a fan of it when I was a kid either.  Then again, the only variety that my family would serve was creamed spinach from a can, which was the most vile and metal tasting thing ever.  Still not a fan.  But in these days of healthy eating and fresh ready made convenience in our foods, buying fresh spinach is not only easy, but the norm in our home.  However, when my son first tried spinach a couple years ago,  fresh and sautéed, he decided that he hated spinach.  It actually became a running joke.  Anytime we would tease him about eating something, we would give him the choice between whatever it was he was “ewwww-ing” at the moment . . . or a big bowl of spinach.

Recently, we have come to realize that one of the few veggies he actually likes is salad.  He will go to the grocery store, where they have a big salad bar, and want to make his own salad.  And what we also realized was that the “lettuce” he was choosing, was actually . . . wait for it . . . spinach!!  I was so happy that he was actually eating it, and enjoying it, that there was no way I was going to tell him that the dreaded and hated vegetable that he despised so much . . . was actually his favorite veggie to eat.

Once I realized he actually liked it, I started to incorporate it in some other dishes I served him.  Of course, when he asked what that green stuff was, I couldn’t very well tell him it was spinach, or he would refuse to eat the meal.  So, I had to come up with something that would fly.  Hence, the creation of the lie.

Those are herbs.

Yep, all that little green stuff sprinkled on top of your pizza?  Herbs.  The green shredded pieces throughout the pasta dish?  Herbs.  All those little green things in the rice?  Yeah, you guessed it.  And you know what he readily eats and enjoys?  Those herbs.

But the spinach in his salads is still “lettuce.”  One day I will tell him.  I just might wait until he’s in college.  At least he’s eating vegetables, right?

ANGRY BIRD DIP

My youngest son is more adventurous when it comes to eating.  He will usually try something if it sounds interesting.  And he actually likes a far greater number of food items than his older brother.  Case in point:  he will eat spinach without the subterfuge.  He actually likes spinach.

We have a Mexican night every few weeks, where the hubs and I prepare a huge mexican fiesta, complete with hard and soft tacos, grilled chicken and beef fillings, quesadillas, mexican rice, salsa & queso and chips.  A few weeks ago, the hubs picked up a packet of guacamole mix and a couple avocados to make some quac.  In order to get the kids to even try this green goopy looking stuff, he decided to rename it.  ANGRY BIRD DIP.

Now, if you are new to my blog, let me explain. My youngest son is obsessed with Angry Birds. Every chance he gets, he is trying to grab his dad’s iPad to play the game.  He has a ton of the Angry Bird plush toys, and a good deal of clothing and other items with those birds all over them. In fact, for his past birthday, the theme of most of his presents was decidedly Angry Birds.

Did I mention obsessed?  Yeah.

So, the hubs’ idea was that if he called the guacamole Angry Bird dip, there would be a higher probability of my son’s sampling of it.  And he was right.  Not only did my son try it, but he liked it. I doubt he would have even considered it otherwise.

These are merely two examples of how the hubs and I use subterfuge to trick our kids into eating things that they otherwise wouldn’t even consider.  Are we wrong to trick them this way?  Does this make us deceitful and evil to hide the truth from our children?  Hmmm, maybe.  But I don’t think it’s doing them any harm.  And they are benefitting from getting nutrients from very healthy foods they otherwise wouldn’t even think to eat.  So, I don’t feel guilty in the slightest.  And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who fools her kids into eating healthy stuff.  I mean, Jessica Seinfeld wrote an entire book about it.  So really, I’m just being trendy, right? 

How do you get your kids to eat their veggies?  Any tricks you use to hide the true nature of the foods they eat? 

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37 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. She's a Maineiac
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 09:42:48

    I love the Angry Birds idea! My son would go for that. I think if I renamed all the veggies after the Mario Brothers, I’d be set too.

    My son will eat veggies but it depends on how they look. He’ll eat certain ones if they’re cut a certain way, or if I can put them on a toothpick so he can dip them into honey mustard sauce etc.

    My daughter will try anything. Last night she had broccoli AND corn and loved it, and I didn’t need any other tricks to get her to eat it. (I’m sure this won’t last…)

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2012 @ 15:21:01

      Think of all the video gaming possibilities!! Princess Peach, Mario, Luigi . . . I’m sure you could find something to correspond to all of those.

      Ah yes, dips. Dips save the day many times.

      Wow, she’s wonderful. Can we trade when mine start acting up? You like spirited kids, right? 😉

      Reply

  2. thoughtsappear
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 09:46:29

    Boo is awful about eating veggies. He only eats corn (why does that even count as a veggie), carrots, broccoli, and peas.

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2012 @ 15:22:56

      Yeah, for a while my oldest would only eat green beans. That is it. It was torturous. We have expanded his veggie repertoire somewhat.

      And that is 4 veggies. That’s pretty good!

      Reply

  3. Jen
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 10:40:00

    Oh shit, I’m going to get my ass kicked here, but. . .my short people LOVE vegetables. These are kids that beg for broccoli and hummus for snacks and will eat a bell pepper like it’s an apple. I realize I am wicked blessed to have the least picky eaters on the planet; Thai food, Indian curry, sushi, Ethiopian, you name it, they’re down for it. J’s favorite food right now? Lentil curry. And M’s favorite snack ? Steamed edemame. I just wish they’d impart some of that goodness into my all-Taco-Bell-all-the-time diet. Meh…

    Reply

  4. Don't Quote Lily
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 11:09:49

    Hey, you do what you have to do. It’s not called lying, it’s called being creative. 😉

    Reply

  5. freshveggiesinthedesert
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 11:52:14

    I am completely stealing this idea. Genius. Everything veggie in our house is now going to be called “Angry Bird”-something and Ninjago-whatever. Completely brilliant.

    Reply

  6. madtante
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 13:02:29

    Growing up on a working farm, rabbits were my first animal to caretake. Watching Papa slash their necks or step on a head and pull up with the back feet to break their necks (then have me help hold for skinning and the rest)? There wasn’t much room for pretty stories. Plus, my parents were not parents…The ranch thing is just a ranch thing.

    For the kids in my life, I tell them, “Try it and tell me what you think.” They don’t get to not try. Unlike my parents, I don’t force them to eat things — but they’d better bloody well try! And do!

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2012 @ 15:27:07

      Yeah, my kids are weird that if I can get my youngest to try it (hence the fun name), he will usually like it. It’s getting past the initial look of it.

      Whereas my oldest will have already decided he doesn’t like something before he even tastes it, so trying it isn’t the threshhold. It’s making him not realize what he is eating. Hence the different “creative” ways of getting the food in them. 😉

      Reply

  7. bluzdude
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 16:18:47

    My dad had a great way to get us to eat our vegetables. He’s say, “Eat that broccoli or you’re get one upside the head. And then you’ll have to eat your broccoli with a sore head.”

    It worked, too, until I started gagging at the table. Eventually it sunk in that I was averse to broccoli on a molecular level. One molecule of broccoli and my stomach says, “Everybody out!”

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2012 @ 15:28:23

      My kids are just like that with mashed potatos. It’s a texture thing. They like them, but every once in a while, they make them gag and then it’s potato spewing all over the table. Both are like that. So we are very careful with potatos.

      Reply

  8. Heather @ SugarDish(Me)
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 16:23:56

    I lie to my kids about what they’re eating all the time. Every meat is chicken. Mushrooms are sliced very very smallish so that they can’t be seen. All greens are lettuce. All dressing is ranch. Whatever works. Sometimes when they really love something they previously claimed to hate I sort of rub their faces in it. AND my technique is sort of working because my oldest is 12 and will eat pretty much whatever I give him. Also Santa and the Easter Bunny still frequent this house. It’s for the greater good.

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2012 @ 15:29:31

      Yeah, I really wanna tell my son, “ha! You love spinach. Suck it.” But I fear that will backfire as he won’t eat anything green ever again. I hope the EB and Santa continue coming to our house for a very long time.

      Reply

  9. Brett Minor (@brettminor)
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 18:59:57

    My kids weren’t really picky eaters, so we didn’t have much of an issue. However, when cousins or their friends would visit, I was suddenly subjected to all those disgusted faces. I refused to fix a different meal and would lie my face off.

    “I don’t like tuna.”

    “This is chicken.”

    “Oh! I love chicken.”

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2012 @ 15:30:38

      My kids are pretty good about meats. They don’t really care what it is. They even eat salmon and other fishes. But green stuff? That’s the problem. Maybe it I tell them everything is chicken.

      Reply

  10. Valerie
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 22:39:50

    When I was a wee lad, my mom made some cooked spinach. But apparently, the spinach had gone bad. But she made me eat it anyway. And the only reason I did eat it was because she said I couldn’t watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer unless I did. Well, I don’t mess around when it comes to Rudolph. I wolfed it all down in a matter of minutes. And seconds later I puked it all up… on to my plate. It was horrible.

    To this day I still don’t eat cooked spinach.

    Hugs!

    Valerie

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2012 @ 15:31:57

      Oh man. Your mom must have felt horrible. But yeah, I see the sway of Rudolph getting you to that point. I didn’t eat steak for the longest time because I got really sick after having it for dinner one night (unrelated to the steak, I believe) so I can see how that would stay with you.

      Reply

  11. Vesta Vayne
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 22:51:40

    Lie lie lie. If it gets them to eat healthy food, then who cares?

    That, by the way, is how I got my husband to discover that he does not, in fact, hate mushrooms.

    Reply

  12. Jen
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 12:50:40

    My friend told be she uses a cheese grater to grate broccoli crowns over pasta and in lasagne filling and calls it “Italian seasoning”. She also mixes baby food like pureed squash and carrots into mac-n-cheese and Spaghetti-O’s.

    Reply

  13. mark
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 17:28:42

    Say what you will about Russell Brand, I really did enjoy “Get Him to the Greek,” and in large part due to Sean P. Diddy Combs. The relevance here is when he (P. Diddy) explains to Aaron (Jonah Hill) that, “no, we don’t lie, we believe invalid truths.” Ain’t ‘nuthin wrong with that. Now I need to go stroke the furry wall.

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2012 @ 15:34:10

      STROKE THE FURRY WALL!

      I ashamedly kinda loved that movie as well, but Russell Brand . . . blech!

      I forgot about those invalid truths. But it sounds very lawyerly, so I like it!! 😉

      Reply

  14. Go Jules Go
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 18:12:18

    Ha! The Angry Birds idea was brilliant! And I think you’re TOTALLY in the right for keeping up with calling spinach ‘herbs’ until he’s old enough to accept the truth (so, you know, maybe never).

    And where the HELL is my invite for Mexican night?

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2012 @ 15:35:51

      You are welcome for Mexican night any time. Maybe next time you are briefly in Baltimore but don’t manage to tell me until after you are back home. :p

      And if you think Mex night is special . . . you should see Breakfast for Dinner night. French toast, omelets, bagels, fruit, sausage, etc. So deliciously awful!

      Reply

  15. Jillian
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 20:14:47

    Does this work when lying to oneself? Because I’m a fairly picky eater who is trying to reform, and I think that if I named all my new foods after my favorite TV shows, I think I could do some major reverse psychology on myself.

    Reply

  16. wcdameron
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 09:53:53

    Our kids were never picky eaters, but that didn’t stop us from lying to them….

    Reply

  17. Carrie - Cannibalistic Nerd
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 13:53:20

    Herbs is brilliant. I might try that on my husband.

    Reply

  18. Chicago-Style Girl
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 03:28:55

    I don’t have kids yet, but I cook for all my nieces and nephews and cousins. I say “eat it” and don’t take no for an answer. Luckily, I’ve already started a pattern where what I say goes, so it works. If they don’t like it, we find a way to make it work.
    My best examples of this is my little cousin who hated tomatoes. I got her to try a bite, just so she could tell me exactly what she didn’t like about it. Turns out a dash of salt was all that was needed. Now she’ll eat tomatoes like they’re apples.

    Reply

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