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I Hid Cauliflower, Eggplant and More Into My Kids' Food: the Verdict
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  • My kids don’t like vegetables unless they’re French fries, so I took to the Internet to look for sneaky creative recipes. The logic was, if kids don’t see the vegetable, they’ll eat it. 

    People are trying to do everything with it:  cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower ice cream, flourless double chocolate cauliflower brownies. Is nothing sacred?

    I decided to play it safe and serve mashed cauliflower, which has less carbs than potatoes and supposedly the same creamy goodness. THEY LIED. I boiled and blended the cauliflower with milk and butter, but nothing could mask its sharp taste. I hated it, and I drink green smoothies so my tolerance for weird-veggie-aftertaste is pretty high. I knew I had to fix this fast.

    I added more butter, truffle oil, and sliced sausages to mimic the gourmet mashed potatoes that my kids love at our fave restaurant. Then I made gravy because gravy makes everything better. 

    Everything except mashed cauliflower. 

    Kids immediately detected the taste, ate tiny spoonfuls, and picked out the sausage. I tried to salvage the recipe by adding water and turning it into cream of cauliflower soup. Still didn’t work, and I threw out the whole batch.

    THE VERDICT. Not worth it. Even if cauliflower is healthy, all the ingredients to make it palatable adds up to about 1 million calories from fat. 

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    After the cauliflower epic fail, carrots restored my faith in vegetables. I grated a big batch, and put some in spaghetti sauce and the rest in 3 kilos of ground pork which I divided into three meals: meatballs for the spaghetti, tacos, and meatloaf. (Yummy magazine also has a meatloaf sandwich recipe that made good use of leftover meatloaf.) 


    The kids ate all of it, no questions asked.

    Carrots have a very mild taste that won’t affect the flavor of your food, and there are tons of ways to use them: carrot cake, coleslaw, soups, macaroni salad, casseroles, burger patties, homemade chicken nuggets and more. 

    Budget hack: many wet markets will sell bruised carrots for a lower price. Buy a lot, and grate them by hand or with a food processor. Freeze in small bags or ice cube trays, so you can add them to everything. They’ll keep for a few months. 

    THE VERDICT. Cheap, nutritious, versatile. Definitely a win! 

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    My kids already love squash soup, so I knew my next veggie experiments had a really good chance. They know it’s squash, but they’ll try it. 

    I found this great Squash Mac and Cheese recipe from Yummy magazine that they ate without any complaints. Get real quickmelt cheese, not the cheaper ones, so they get that gooey goodness that helps them forget they’re eating a vegetable.

    I also made Honey Roasted Squash, which my daughter actually liked. It’s less dry than baked kamote fries, and looks very Instagram-worthy next to a roast chicken. 

    THE VERDICT. Works most of the time! Squash has a natural sweetness that kids can grow to like. 

    Kidding! Don’t even go there. 

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    My kids will tolerate tortang talong if it’s smothered with ketchup, and they’re promised a good dessert. But would they actually love these eggplant recipes from around the world?

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    The most obvious attempt was eggplant parmigiana, which looks and tastes like a lasagna. This worked really, really well (I’m seeing a pattern here: veggies + cheese + pasta are always a hit). My son liked the Greek moussaka (I used Bobby Flay’s version) because he’ll eat anything that has potatoes and ground meat, but my daughter found the spices too strong.

    I had leftover grilled eggplant that I added to my husband’s roasted tomato and mozzarella panini (a copycat of a Starbucks favorite). Complete shock: my kids took a bite and asked me to make them one too!  The mozzarella did it. I’m telling you, cheese is your best friend. 

    THE VERDICT. I didn’t expect this one to go this well! But in retrospect, eggplant doesn’t have a strong aftertaste, and goes well with familiar spices. But tip: salt and sweat the eggplants before baking them, and always fry in small batches in high heat. These veggies soak up oil really quickly, so don’t let them sit too long in the pan. Oily eggplants are really gross (I learned that the hard way).

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