Mashed beans disappear into chili

Adrienne's mom understood the power of a diversion:

I don't have any children of my own (soon!) but checked out your website after reading about it in Maclean's. Had to share this little tidbit from my own childhood.

When my older brother was about 22, he asked my mom for her chili recipe. She was very reluctant to give it up for some reason but then finally confessed: Because neither of us liked kidney beans and would spend half of supper picking them out and complaining, my mother started opening the can of kidney beans, removing about a third of the can, and mashing the rest. The mashed beans would provide the nutrition, the remaining third of the can would give us something to pick out and complain about.

Sneaky when it was used against me, brilliant in my plans for my own children.

My mom swore the crust of the bread was better for me than the soft inside, and I fell for it for years. I wonder what other secrets we keep from our kids that they'll find out when they're parents? 

Related: Plenty of hide-the-vegetable hacks in the Feeding/nursing archive


  1. Jill in Atlanta says

    My kids have been told that the bread crust is the sugars from the bread turning brown, so they gobble it up! Banana speckles? “Sugar spots”! Then again, my kids are well brainwashed to know that everything good has onion and garlic in it!

    And, beans can also disappear when put into taco meat early. Any beans can become the texture of refried beans with the help of a potato masher. Then there’s hummus which my kids believe we use cans of “baseball beans” to make!

  2. Emily says

    My mother-in-law used to mash beans and hide them in chili as well as spaghetti sauce when my husband was little. To this day she still think she doesn’t know she did this, but the cat’s out of the bag on that one. It worked for her, so hopefully it will work for you all as well!

  3. Andre says

    Works for adults too: despite my intense dislike for mushrooms, my wife is always trying to sneak them into dishes using similar chicanery.

  4. Michael - Family Hack says

    We hid the neighborhood ice cream truck from our kids. Anytime it would pass, we would refer to it as the “music truck”. They had no idea it was full of sweet creamy goodness.

    Unfortunately, this may be over. Our 6 year old recently said “I saw Timmy getting an Ice Cream from the music truck”. Doh! Busted!


  5. Richard says

    Beans? How about something with more going for it–eggplant? winter squash? Dice or puree nearly anything in small amounts and you can hide it in chili or soup (how do you think I got rid of that small eggplant and squash I rescued from the veggie drawer? SOUP!!).

    Anybody else’s Mom try cooking turnips and potatoes together and try to sell them as all the same?

  6. Jill in Atlanta says

    Michael: I’ll invite your naive 6yo over to play with my naive 6 yo! We live across the street from a pool and have heard the “music truck” every hour every summer since he was born. Ours has ice cream in it too! (But they don’t get it very often)

  7. Parent Hacks Editor says

    Michael’s ( hack just came up in my queue, and I figured it was best included here:

    Another way to sneak in veggies: when making sloppy joes, I start off by dropping a big handful of baby carrots into the food processor. Pulse it a few time until it’s about the texture of ground meat. Saute it first until it’s just soft, then add your ground meat (or meat substitute) and your sauce. The sauce is the same color as the carrots, and the carrots are the same texture as the meat, so kids don’t even notice them!

  8. court says

    I put grated zucchini in every tomato sauce (pizza, spaghetti, etc) I make – with or without meat. Saute it up a bit add a little tomato sauce and then the rest of whatever you want in the sauce. Grated carrots also work in mac and cheese. Chopped, cooked spinach works in sloppy joes and meatballs.