Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hiding Veggies in Meals Goes Unnoticed but Cuts Calorie Intake: Study

It can be hard work getting all of your fruits and veggies down each day, which is why most North Americans don't get enough. But what if there was a simple way to sneak veggies into your diet and that of your kids without even tasting them, all the while cutting your calories and fat, and upping your fibre, vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content? Sounds too good to be true? It's not, and it's simpler than you think.

In a recent study from Pennsylvania State University, researchers were able to sneakily get some of the biggest food critics out there to eat more vegetables without any kind of a struggle. In case you're wondering who these picky eaters were, they were none other than preschool kids aged 3-6 years old!

In the experiment, the kids managed to eat twice as many vegetables as usual, with 11% fewer calories over all throughout the course of a day and 15 to 25% fewer calories per meal. The researchers pureed broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, tomatoes and squash into some of the kids' favourite foods without them even noticing. To cap things, they ate just as much food as when the meals were not manipulated.

The study's co-author Barbara Rolls understands that some people may think that hiding vegetables suggests they are not acceptable to kids or that it is deceptive, but ultimately, in a world where childhood obesity, and obesity in general are epidemics, the end justifies the means.

In addition, there are plenty of creative recipes that use fruit and vegetables without being considered 'deceptive', such as using applesauce in lieu of oil in baked goods, or avocados instead of mayonnaise or butter. Or how about enjoying some frozen mashed bananas instead of ice cream (really really good!) or black bean brownies? Also, Kraft foods offers a more veggie-based macaroni and cheese that uses freeze dried cauliflower in place of some of the flour in the pasta. It's really not all that unusual or difficult to 'hide' healthy ingredients in your meals.

Since there are so many healthy and creative ways to prepare delicious and nutritious dishes using more fruit and vegetables, there's no reason why kids and adults alike shouldn't give them a try! You never know, you might even like the 'healthier' alternative better!