You Don’t Have to Hide the Veggies

This post is sponsored by Wholly Veggie. The opinions, however, belong to the writer.

Here’s a startling fact, fewer than 10% of kids in America eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. In other words, 9 out of 10 kids aren’t eating enough of the foods most recommended by leading nutrition and health care experts. Although, I’ll bet most moms already knew this. Feeding kids can be tricky at best, downright defeating at worst.

As a professional public health advocate focused on upping the ratio of fruits and vegetables on our plates, and plant-based mama, more so than any other question, parents ask me, “How do I get my kid to eat more vegetables?”

There are, of course, many ways to get kids to eat their veggies. Exposure and persistence is my go-to response. Although, you could also hide them in other foods. You could also bribe and/or force them to eat vegetables (not recommended).

Or, you can find a healthy, plant-rich product that tastes good. I’m here to tell you I’ve found that product. You can trust what I’m about to share next because I’m 1) very discerning and generally skeptical of new products 2) health conscious and 3) really, really committed to helping families everywhere eat a healthier balance of foods (*cough cough* more plants)

This week, my family had the opportunity to try three products from the Wholly Veggie line-up, and they did not disappoint. One thing to note in the spirit of transparency is that two of the products we tried did have egg-products in them, which means only my husband and daughter tried them as they very occasionally eat foods made with egg-products. That being said, they are perhaps even more honest in their critique of food than I tend to be so their opinions can be trusted as well. For what it’s worth, within the past 72 hours, my 5-year-old daughter mentioned both that my ability to make pasta with store-bought marinara “wasn’t that great,” and the Wholly Veggie Southwest Patties were spicy, but “good spicy, not too spicy.” That’s honesty, folks.

The three products we tried were the Southwest Beet Patties, the Herby Garlic Greens Patties, and the Cauliflower and Roasted Red Pepper Veggie Bites. I was excited to get the products home, but given my general lack of culinary expertise, decided to prepare each of them as recommended on the box.  On pizza, as a burger, and topping a quinoa and greens salad, respectively.

One of my favorite things about the product was the ease of preparation. Seriously.

Two of the products (the patties) can be made IN THE TOASTER! Do you know what a game-changer it is to have a warm, savory, perfectly crispy entree prepared in the toaster?

I warmed the Southwest Beet Patties in the toaster before crumbling them onto the pizza crust, and the fact I didn’t have to clean a pan for that one entree was enough to send me back to the store for more.

For my entree, I popped the cauliflower veggie bites in the oven and voila! 12 minutes later, they were done and the mess was minimal – no grease or sticky residue on the cookie sheet. Even the Herby Garlic pattie made in a pan was easy to clean up after. If you’re not a mom and you’re reading this, let me just tell you, that ease of clean-up factor is HUGE.

 

wholly veggie at Target

And I know what you’re probably thinking: the only people who would like veggie patties and bites are granola-eating hippies. I totally get why you’d think that. The history of veg* products in the market has been *spotty* at best.

Listen, I first went veg* when I was 14 (almost 20 years ago) so I’ve lived through some dark times in the veggie patty world, but let me tell you…these are legitimately different. Of course, you can’t go into the meal expecting it to taste like a beef burger, but if you go into dinner expecting a flavorful, savory, well balanced and deliciously seasoned veggie product, your expectations are going to be exceeded.

I really appreciate the fact I can pronounce all the ingredients.

The real test, though, is not whether or not you like it. It’s whether or not your kid will eat it, right? They will. They may have to overcome their fear of all foods that aren’t beige (chicken nuggets, mac n’cheese, corn dogs) because these products are vibrant and colorful (a good thing!) and in terms of flavor, I’d bet dollars to vegan donuts 9 out of 10 kids would enjoy these products.

The ones we tried were hearty and filling and I could imagine them being easily adapted to many different recipes.

No doubt they can be topped with many different sauces and/or incorporated into different styles of food. In terms of versatility, they can be used as-is or crumbled into tacos or on top of a pizza.

Not to switch gears too suddenly or sound too negative here, but given the urgent and critical need to increase the number of fruits and vegetables our children and families eat, Wholly Veggie products are both a convenient and delicious way to make that happen. Considering most families want to eat more plants, and many are trying to reduce animal products in their diet, being able to find Wholly Veggie products at their local Target (freezer section) makes it easier than ever.

Literally, my only complaint is the fact some of the products have egg in them, but that’s coming from someone who doesn’t eat eggs. Fortunately, their family of products is robust enough to have numerous egg-free options (I’ll be buying lots of those) and if your family still eats eggs, but not enough vegetables (90% of us!) Wholly Veggie products provide an opportunity to add fiber and nutrients to your diet.

Best of all, you won’t have to trick your kid into eating them.

 

Audrey Lawson-Sanchez is mom to Ada, her one-and-done four-year-old. Two weeks after meeting her partner Elliot, she was engaged, six months later they eloped and 10 years later they moved back to Audrey’s hometown. A former public educator, Audrey now runs a national public health and nutrition nonprofit. Although she tries her best to not be “one of those vegans” - Audrey loves sharing plant-based eating recipes and ways to sneak more vegetables into every meal (don’t be shy if you have questions!) In addition to talking about kale, Audrey spends her time advocating on behalf of the LGBTQIANB+ community, and putting her poetry degree to good (albeit not profitable) use.