I’ve never been a proponent of hiding vegetables in kids’ foods so they don’t know they’re in there. I’m not a sneaky chef. I don’t understand how a parent who hides vegetables in food can expect children to choose vegetables on their own when they’re older.

If they’ve never been expected to put a serving of actual vegetables on their plate, why would they suddenly start to when they get to make their own decisions? I’m pretty sure that college cafeterias don’t hide pureed spinach in the brownies offered for dessert.

Kraft has jumped onto the fooling-your-kids-into-thinking-they-don’t-actually-eat-vegetables band wagon with a new product. According to the The Washington Post, Kraft now offers its popular Macaroni & Cheese with freeze-dried cauliflower that’s been pulverized into a powder and used to replace some of the flour in the pasta.

Parents are buying it. They’re buying the product, and they’re buying the notion that this is a good idea. In Canada, where the product has been available since March, the sneaky cauliflower version has been “one of the faster-selling versions of the dish” and it’s drawn in “new Kraft Dinner consumers, boosting overall revenue growth for the entire product line.”

I’m concerned that people will think this is a fine substitute for actual vegetables. Now, instead of a child being given a quick lunch of mac & cheese and something like raw carrots on the side, a well-meaning parent might just serve the cauliflower-infused version of the mac & cheese without a side of vegetables. Freeze-dried vegetables do not have the same nutrients as fresh vegetables, so while the cauliflower might add some nutrients, it’s not the same.

One cup of the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese with cauliflower, called “Veggie Pasta” on the box when sold in the United States, has only a half serving of vegetables in it. In order to get the equivalent of one serving of cauliflower (a serving of cauliflower being one-half cup), a child needs to eat two cups of mac & cheese. That’s a lot of mac & cheese. In fact, it’s two full servings. So in order to get kids to eat a serving of hidden vegetables, a parent would need to double up on the serving of processed grains (not even whole grains at that).

To me, this doesn't seem like smarter or better nutrition.

Are you a proponent of sneaking vegetables into other foods? If you are, is that the only way you serve vegetables, or do you still serve vegetables to your children overtly while also sneaking them in?

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Kraft sneaks veggies into its Mac & Cheese
Kraft is adding pulverized dried cauliflower to its Macaroni & Cheese and parents are buying it.