You’ve begged, you’ve pleaded, you’ve even tried convincing them that veggies will turn them into superheroes, yet nothing seems to work. Whether it’s the color, taste, or texture, a lot of children just do not like vegetables. Luckily, we’ve come up with a foolproof way to get your kids to enjoy eating them: through innocent trickery. By hiding vegetables in other foods, you’ll have your kids eating, and even enjoying them, without the mealtime battles. Here are some of our favorite ways to sneak veggies into your children’s diet:
Smoothies: Fruit smoothies are healthy as is, but by adding vegetables you can make them complete nutritional powerhouses that even their gummy vitamins would envy. Lynette Potgieter, owner of Nettie’s Naturally, an Organic, Gluten-Free. & Eco-friendly Bakery, suggests adding cucumbers to smoothies instead of water or juice. “They’re great for adding a liquid component to smoothies, plus it is one of the highest alkalizing foods, making it great for balancing pH levels in the body.” For darker colored smoothies made with berries, also try adding a handful of spinach – it won’t change the color or flavor, but it will add heaps of beneficial antioxidants.
In sauces: Healthy fettuccine alfredo and nutritious macaroni and cheese are made possible through the magic known as vegetable purée. By using cauliflower purée in alfredo sauce, and carrot or sweet potato purée in cheddar cheese sauce, your dreams of healthy, cheesy pasta are now within reach. Oh, and your kids will love it too.
With ground beef: Anywhere you use ground beef, like in spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, meatloaf, casseroles, etc. you can add finely chopped mushrooms for an undetectable vegetable boost. Mushrooms are meaty in texture, and soak up the flavors of whatever they’re cooked in, so the chance that your kids will notice that they’re eating them is slim to none.
Beet Brownies: Believe it or not, healthy brownies are not an oxymoron! Lynette makes chocolate beet brownies using beets and cacao (unprocessed cocoa powder) in her bakery, and the only thing that makes these brownies taste different is how rich and fudge-y they are. Many people don’t enjoy beets, and if you’re one of them, don’t worry – you’d have to be some kind of taste bud wizard to be able to detect them in this recipe.
Pumpkin pancakes: Pumpkin, like any orange or yellow pigmented vegetable, is rich in beta-carotene, which will help keep you child’s eyes, skin, and immune system as healthy as possible. If your kids are anything like the average American, they probably love pumpkin flavored things, so we’re willing to bet they’ll go crazy for pumpkin pancakes. This recipe contains ½ a cup of pumpkin along with other wholesome ingredients, like oats and Greek yogurt, so they’ll get in some great fiber and protein as well.
Meatballs: Finely grated zucchini, carrots, yellow squash, or onions will up the nutritional value of normal meatballs significantly, without compromising the flavor. If you’re concerned about pops of vegetable color making your kids suspicious, consider peeling the zucchini before use, or tossing the meatballs in the sauce prior to serving. That way, you can be sure they won’t discover your secret.
Chocolate Mousse: The mention of avocado makes most people think of guacamole, but get that out of your head for a quick second. Avocado works well in desserts too, especially chocolate mousse. “You won’t taste it, it’ll just add a beautiful richness and creaminess to the dish,” says Lynette. As a bonus, “the healthy fat of the avocado will make you and your kids feel full, which means you’ll feel satisfied and probably won’t need to have second helpings.”
Zucchini in baked goods: We’ve got to give credit to the humble zucchini bread for being the premier dessert to incorporate vegetables, and still taste delicious! You already know that shredded zucchini is great in zucchini bread, but it is virtually undetectable (and tasty!) in many other baked goods as well. Try it in banana bread, chocolate muffins, brownies, and even cheesy garlic bread! As odd as it sounds, it’s even a fabulous addition to oatmeal; just add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to disguise the green!
By sneaking veggies into these delicious foods, you can add lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to your children’s diet without any debate. So smile as they gobble these recipes up, knowing that your sneakiness is providing them with the nutrition they need to help them grow into strong, healthy, possible vegetable lovers in the not so distant future.