Secret Agent Mama

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Find more about picky eaters, healthy fun, dinner

There was a time when our son Henry would eat anything. All the great things like peas and squash and apples and bananas and the not-so-great things like wood chips and carpenter ants. Now a first grader, Henry has gone from a bouncing baby who happily consumed every kind of fruit and vegetable, to a child whose diet consists of cheeseburgers, pancakes, macaroni and cheese, and an occasional bite of apple.

My tipping point over his picky palate occurred last fall during dinner at a friend's house, when Henry loudly refused to even pretend to try to eat anything. While he sat in front of a clean white plate, the other children, including our daughter, Julia, acted like poster children for the Healthy Food Movement — devouring chicken, carrots and sliced tomatoes.

Later that evening as my mortification faded, my anxiety grew. My mind raced forward in time to a vision of a pallid and overweight adult-Henry, sitting on a couch surrounded by Big Mac wrappers.

With the unhealthy-Henry vision clearer than ever the next morning, (What is it about being a Mom that makes us unable to let these things go?), I created a covert dining operation and enlisted some secret agents with all the "don't ask, don't tell" attitude of the American military establishment. After interviewing a few other moms of picky eaters, I carefully selected my secret agents:

  • Broccoli floret bits (otherwise known as "green sprinkles" for the tops of pizza)

  • Flax seed, wheat flour, and squashed bananas (to put in pancake and waffle batter)

  • Grated carrots (to put in spaghetti sauce and hamburger meat)

  • Canned pureed pumpkin (to bake in breads and muffins)

  • Barilla Plus pasta (fortified pasta for spaghetti and pasta salads)

  • Sunsweet's Lighter Bake plum & apple puree (an oil or butter replacement for baked goods)
  • I'm still working on a healthy fruit smoothie that I plan to covertly pour into Danimals bottles when no one is looking.

    If I get any weird expressions or pointed questions at meal time, I tell everyone that their dinner is "well-fortified" and leave it at that. And I'm sleeping a whole lot better at night.

    What's your secret strategy for feeding picky eaters? Click the comments link below to find and share solutions.

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