Once upon a time, not long ago, my daughter ate everything I gave her. I was overjoyed to watch her devour a plate of sautéed zucchini. Beside myself with delight as she polished off a bowl of steamed carrots. Couldn’t believe my eyes as she shoved broccoli in her mouth by the fistfuls! And then….she turned two and a half. All of the sudden everything I made was utterly repugnant for my daughter’s newfound picky palate. I couldn’t even get her to eat sweet potato! Seriously, who does not like sweet potato? I thought if it had the word “sweet” in it, then surely a child would eat it. Not my kid. Any type of orange vegetable is just plain off limits to her.

“Concerned about my vegetable intake mommy? Call someone who cares.” I swear she is mocking me sometimes.

It seems all she wants for dinner lately is “Pastaaa!” as she shouts for it. Anything else, I basically have to pry her mouth open. I was warned by Mia’s pediatrician about the “beige phase” toddlers go through where all they want are pasta, rice, and crackers. I was hopeful we’d bypass that stage and then BAM, here we are in Beigeville. It’s boring here, folks.

This past weekend I was feeling especially tired of the mealtime drama and for thinking that I was a bad mother for not forcing giving my daughter enough veggies to eat. I felt defeated. “If all she wants is pasta, who am I to stop her?” I thought to myself.

So I started making the sauce for her pasta like I do most Sundays. When I opened the fridge, I stared in sadness at the beautiful carrots, celery, shallots, and squash that would never touch my daughter’s lips….or would they? I had an idea. I busted out the food processor, chopped those veggies into oblivion, and threw them in with the simmering tomatoes. I even added frozen peas to really test her limits. They are visible and can easily be picked out….but I was feeling risky. Maybe I had a little fight left in me after all? I had some flax seeds on hand and sprinkled them into the bubbling brew too. “You want pasta little one? I’ll give you pasta.”

The end result was a concoction much thicker than my mom used to make. But hey….

She liked it!

This concept of smuggling veggies in food is not revolutionary. I think some celebrity mom wrote a cookbook about it and was on Oprah or something. But that was before I had a child and all I could think of while watching the episode was “Ewww, who the hell would eat brownies with beets in it?!” Ah…. to be that carefree again.

I realized it may be a while before she eats her veggies straight up again and that I have to be a little more creative in how I get them into her belly. These kids don’t make anything easy, do they? For sanity’s sake I also vowed not to drive myself over the edge if she is not eating everything I expect her to. She is developing her own tastes and growing into her own person. Besides, she doesn’t seem malnourished. She can find a way to climb onto the kitchen island and have enough energy to do endless somersaults in the living room.

The greater issue at hand is her stubbornness and the battles yet to be fought over food, doing her homework, sneaking out of the house, etc. All I can do now is just hug my little sweetie and shovel another spoonful of pasta and magic sauce into her unsuspecting little mouth.

Anyone else going through the picky-eater/beige-food phase? How/where do you hide your child’s veggies? I need more ideas as to where to smuggle the contraband. God forbid there come a time when she will tire of sauce and scrambled eggs (a place where I harbor broccoli and kale). I might just brake down and get that cookbook.

Or, are you fortunate enough to have the perfect child that consumes veggies without fuss? If so, please tell me how you do it!

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