Sometimes in life it’s important to tell the truth. But sometimes, a little white lie (or omission of the truth) might be in the best interest of everyone involved. Such is certainly the case for parenting, at least in our house. Let me explain.
Most parents have a tough time encouraging their kids to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. We are no exception. We offer our boys plenty of fruit and they eat a decent amount. We could probably do a better job serving up veggies. But even when we do, the boys aren’t all that interested in them and often choose not to eat. We don’t force them to eat generally, as I’m not sure that would not be any better an alternative for our kids.
T is a bit of a sugar addict. The other day, I had a snack and asked if he wanted a bite. He cautiously asked, “Is it junk?” with every intention of accepting my offer only if I said yes, regardless of what I had to share. What a punk.
Needless-to-say, I don’t have a problem using a little white lie or omission of the complete truth to encourage my boys to eat more fruits and vegetables. They have a decent understanding of which foods are healthy and which are not. Yet I like to sneak in some “dessert” at times that isn’t just straight sugar.
Don’t get me wrong. My boys have been known to stuff their face with a bowl of ice cream, but we usually celebrate that it’s “really, really big” (about 2-3 tbsp of ice cream) or “so huge” (a square-inch brownie). There’s a lot to be said for portion size, even when something is a serious indulgence.
Many nights, dessert for our boys doesn’t look like the classic and picturesque perfection we find on Pinterest. Here are seven examples of treats we call “dessert” in our house, each of which has meaningful nutritional value on its own.
Garden Lites Muffins ~ Remember these? They’re muffins with a healthy dose of vegetables as a first (and sometimes second) ingredient. Of course, we may have opted not to tell our boys about the veggies hiding out in these muffins. But as any good parent has experienced, there’s a time and place for omission of the whole truth.
They were a big hit, and we bought them again from our local Giant grocery store. We ended up with 5 boxes in our cart, because I let the boys pick out whichever ones they wanted (and they just couldn’t decide). Such tough choices these boys have to make…
In addition to being comprised of 33% vegetables, they’re also gluten, dairy and nut-free for those with allergy or intolerance concerns.
Kids Protein Bars ~ These come in a variety of flavors and qualities, so be sure to read the ingredients. I generally check to ensure I can read the ingredients and they don’t have an exorbitant amount of sugar.
Frozen Yogurt Bites ~ Instead of buying traditional frozen yogurt, I tossed regular yogurt into the freezer and made our own bite-size frozen yogurt snacks. I coated them in chocolate shavings because .. why not? That’s certainly an optional addition though, if you’d prefer to keep the snack simpler.
No Bake Chocolate Almond Butter Balls ~ This experiment turned out wonderfully. I threw these no bake chocolate almond butter snacks together a while back and the whole family really liked them. They can be a little crumbly because I opted to let the almond butter act as the “glue”. I excluded any honey or agave that might have worked better to keep them together while being eaten. But I didn’t mind at all. They tasted delicious and had a touch of indulgence without being overly sweet.
Smoothie Pops ~ Combining just pureed fruit and a little bit of 100% fruit juice (we use fresh squeezed orange juice), the boys and I make our own popsicles. The boys think they’re the best, and I have no problem letting my kids eat 100% fruit for dessert. It might still be a burst of sugar with such a concentration of natural sugars from the fruit, but I’ll take it.
Fruit Dipped in Chocolate ~ We made our own chocolate sauce for fruit dipping (or you could melt a couple handfuls chocolate chips in the microwave). I’d probably pass on the marshmallows if we were eating this on a more regular basis. (I love / hate having them in my house). But the boys’ eyes nearly burst of out of their head anytime I give them free reign to dip a whole plate of snacks in chocolate.
Tortillas ~ Our boys really love tortillas, so they get excited about eating them plain. I recognize this won’t apply for most families. It’s more representative, however, of choosing some “treat” that really isn’t a traditional dessert food at all but you know will excite your kids to have as a snack. Is there something healthier that they love and just can’t get enough of?
We don’t have dessert every night, but for better or for worse, it’s become something of a negotiation lever for getting the boys to eat dinner. (I know, parenting experts would not approve of this. #DontCare) They’re more concerned, though, about getting a snack after dinner and not necessarily so focused on exactly what the snack is.
M and I make a big deal about how crazy and awesome and huge the treats they get are, even when they’re not super sweet or not all that large. The “sweet sensation” of dessert is in the eye of beholder. Our little white lies about how big and impressive their snacks are or our omissions about how many vegetables are in the Garden Lites muffins encourage our boys to make healthier choices.
We’re not expecting them to eat only broccoli and carrots for every meal or never have a sweet snack. But in my book, every little bit counts. If I’m encouraging my boys to make slightly smarter choices or love desserts that aren’t the most traditional sweet treats in the grocery store, that’s a win in my book.
If you try out of any recipes or snacks above, be sure to let me know. You can find Garden Lites in a host of grocery stores around the country. Find a store near you that carries them, and grab them in the freezer section.
I suspect your family will really enjoy them. And of course, you don’t even have to tell them the whole truth about the whole foods they’re eating.