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Smart Parents Love Their Veggies

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Loads of things make me crazy: comb-overs on bald men, useless (often pantless) starlets getting publicity, overpaid professional athletes and faux-cooks/-cookbook writers who give you recipes to disguise vegetables for kids.

Hell, no. This is just not right. Trust is elemental. No tricking them into anything.

More to the point: Vegetables are delicious.

Discard the old wives' tales and prejudices about what kids will or will not eat. Just because you may not like something or weren't exposed to it doesn't mean that your kid won't like it, or shouldn't be given the opportunity to be a hater. Period.

Your kids are entitled to their likes and dislikes just as you are, but -- trust me on this one -- you just need to keep trying. Offer food neutrally. Keep offering it. No games or gimmicks or disguises. In our family, one child who would steal broccoli off her sister's plate, which was a good redistribution of food, because her sister hated the stuff. The broccoli hater had a thing for peppers and would come home from school and beg for roasted peppers in garlic and olive oil on whole wheat baguettes for a snack.

One daughter even had a thing for arugula and Bibb lettuce. Desperately homesick at summer camp, she compiled a crafty plea for early release. Topping her list of injustices? The camp served only iceberg lettuce.

We recently witnessed a gaggle of three-year-olds exposed to Brussels sprouts for the first time. They received no parental cues about what their response should be. And what did most of them do? Wolfed down the whole plate and asked for seconds.

Rosalyn Hoffman is the author of the just released NAL/Penguin book, Smart Mama, Smart Money: Raising Happy Healthy Kids Without Breaking the Bank.