Grandmas Getting Grandchildren To Eat Vegetables and Healthy Means Hide Them, Flaunt Them, or Repeat Them

deceptively-deliciousWhen it comes to getting grandchildren to eat vegetables, this Grandma reminds grandmas everywhere of our mantra: grandparenting is all joy and no responsibility.  Getting grandchildren to eat vegetables and healthy is not our problem, but we can make it our fun.

There seems to be three categories or theories about getting children to eat vegetables: hide them in other appetizing foods, repeat them often, and a new one that seems to be gaining favor, flaunt them and make children want to eat them.

This Grandma seems to remember the movie star, Gwyneth Paltrow, recommending recipes that hide vegetables in them so children get the vitamins they need.  Or, maybe this Grandma was thinking of Jessica Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld’s wife, who wrote, “Deceptively Delicious, Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food.”  at Amazon.

On September 15, 2016, The Today Show on line printed a great recipe for brownies using hidden black beans for fiber and protein and texture without knowing the beans are in the recipe, Black Bean Brownies, by Nathan Congelton.  This is more this Grandma’s interest, dessert and a fun recipe.  I suggest that grandma puree the beans in advance and call them a “secret” ingredient, a la Jessica Seinfeld or Gwyneth Paltrow, as the closest we will get to being celebrities.  After all, all we care about is being a celebrity to our grandchildren!

Black Bean Brownies


1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup canned black beans, drained, rinsed and pureed in blender

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips


“Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Over a double boiler, melt butter and bittersweet chocolate over medium heat. Remove and let cool briefly. Whisk in sugar until combined. Then, whisk in eggs, vanilla and black beans. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Place in a greased 8×8 baking pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.”

If you are a grandma like me who prefers reservations to actual cooking and does not own a double boiler, do this to substitute for a double boiler that I found on the internet doing a google search: “Fill pot about 1/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and fit the bowl into the pot. The bottom of the bowl should not reach the water (at least 2” to 3” space between the bowl and water is optimal). Add the ingredients required and proceed as recipe instructs.”

A new idea to get grandchildren to eat vegetables is to flaunt and advertise vegetables as healthy to eat, using the same techniques as television advertising.  In “How to Sell Kids on Vegetables,” in the New York Times, July 5, 2016, the author, Nicholas Bakalar, reports on a new study from the applied economics department at Cornell University that “[T]he same marketing techniques used to convince children to eat junk food are highly effective in promoting fruits and vegetables.”

He wrote:

“Researchers assigned 10 elementary schools to one of four groups. In the first, they posted vinyl banners around the salad bar depicting cartoon vegetable characters with “super powers.” In the second, they showed television cartoons of the characters. The third got both cartoons and banners, and a control group got no intervention. The study, in Pediatrics, went on for six weeks in 2013.”

“Compared to control schools, TV segments alone produced a statistically insignificant increase in vegetable consumption. But in schools decorated with the banners alone, 90.5 percent more students took vegetables. And where both the banners and the TV advertisements were used, the number of students taking vegetables increased by 239.2 percent.”

Again, parents should encourage the grandchildren’s elementary schools to try such a campaign.  It is not grandparents’ responsibility, but it would be fun to have grandchildren try to do advertising banners for vegetables they do like. . . .and maybe taste a new one to try to create banners for those.  Then, look for a recipe for that new vegetable to cook for the whole family.

The tried and true method of introducing vegetables to a grandchild of any age is repetition so they develop a “taste” for the vegetable.  This Grandma knows a new mother, the daughter of a long (we never say old) grandma friend, who has never given her son anything but vegetables when he was old enough to eat solid foods, and she goes with the theory that if he eats only vegetables for as long as she can control his diet, he will love them, but most important will be healthy.  A way to create a vegetarian or vegan?  Even on the Gerber website for introducing solid foods to babies, it says, “DID YOU KNOW? Wait about three days before introducing a new fruit or vegetable baby food, and it can take up to 10 tries with a new food before your baby decides to give it a go. Always speak with your pediatrician about when to start baby foods.”

This Grandma read somewhere that it is 15 times after tasting a new food to develop a taste for the food.  I think it took me that long for blue cheese!  I use this Grandma theory, which I call a grandma theory because I do not know its origin and like it so I will not research it further to see if it is an actual theory.  I tell this 15 time theory as if it is the absolute theory to the grandchildren at every opportunity.  It gives me more leeway than the 10 time theory.  I tell the grandchild one taste is not enough.  You cannot say no to a food “forever,” unless you taste it fifteen times.  It has seemed to work with my grandchildren.  It is harder for a grandchild to say no to a grandparent than to a parent.  After all, we never say no to them, do we?  See previous posts on never saying no.*

Whatever the method, the best thing to do with this post is send it to the parents of your grandchildren, and use the vegetable introduction and eating ideas only to have fun with grandchildren.  After all, we grandparents are all about






*Never Say No—Number One


Never Say No—Number Two





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