It’s hard to get myself to eat vegetables most days so, understandably, a toddler needs a little nudge. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, they refuse even to put a vegetable near their mouths.
Whether it's the kid that throws a five-alarm tantrum or the one that gags at the sight of broccoli, every parent has a story about the vegetable fight.
Don’t stress about it anymore because it turns out we only need to get a little creative in our delivery by hiding the veggies in plain sight.
Make them fun
Sometimes all it takes to get kids to eat their vegetables is to dress them up a little.
I've seen a lot of inventive moms on Pinterest shape their kids’ vegetables into faces, animals, and even cartoon characters.
For those of you that are less talented, the classic ants on a log (celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins) is a solid option.
Add them to spaghetti sauce
Another age-old method of hiding veggies is to put them in something like spaghetti sauce that will overpower the taste. The base of spaghetti sauce is tomato, so you already have a good start.
As long as they're small enough, your kids will never know that they're getting a full serving of vegetables in between their noodles.
If you're going with store-bought sauce, try to find options that are low in sugar so you don’t counteract the benefits of the vegetables. This also works for kids who don’t like protein since you can easily add some hamburger into spaghetti sauce.
Put them in a smoothie
A lot of adults hide vegetables in their smoothies so it makes sense to do it for kids, too. Smoothies are a sweet treat that most kids will love, so it isn’t hard to convince them to drink one.
What they don’t know is that you can puree a whole lot of vegetables in there and just a little sugar and fruit will camouflage the taste.
Use cauliflower in mac and cheese
There are adult recipes that use cauliflower instead of macaroni, but you don’t have to go that extreme; you can even use boxed mac and cheese.
Make the mac and cheese as you normally would and steam some cauliflower. From there, puree the cauliflower and mix it in with the mac and cheese. Thanks to the consistency of steamed cauliflower your child won’t notice the difference in texture.
Sneak them into bread and muffins
This is another popular method, and there are a lot of recipes out there to choose from.
I don't know about you but my kids are bread and muffin junkies. And just in case, a little butter goes a long way to cover up any unwanted flavors. Find a recipe that calls for shredded vegetables to be mixed in with the dry ingredients. Think of dishes like carrot cake or zucchini bread for inspiration.
Add them to pizza
At its very base, pizza is already hiding vegetables in its sauce, but you can certainly take it up a notch. If you're making homemade pizza, it's so easy to sneak extra vegetables into the mix.
One method that has been growing in popularity is mixing cauliflower in with the crust; an easier method is to hide vegetables under toppings or cheese.
Include them in your cookies
It’s just like baking vegetables into bread, but they’ll probably eat even more of them. Shred up your veggie of choice and dump it in the cookie dough. They won’t even second guess why their cookies are a different texture.
Mix them into popsicles
This is my personal favorite. Homemade popsicles are better than store-bought, and that’s a fact. Kids will have no idea that you are mixing in some greens with their favorite summer treat.
Just like with smoothies, you will want to puree some fruit with your veggies for that natural sugar, and they will devour them never knowing there's a full serving of veggies in every pop.
Try some vegetable tater tots
The most popular options for these delicious, cheesy sides are cauliflower and broccoli. You can buy these in the freezer aisle or make them yourself, and they're a crowd favorite. Kids will have no idea that they are enjoying vegetables and adults will love them too.
Get creative with dessert
Avocados have been a popular superfood for years now, but they seem to be having somewhat of a renaissance as they've worked their way into desserts.
Like many popular options, you can find this stuff at the store, but to make sure it is as healthy as possible, you can make it at home to control the amount of sugar and other additives that find their way into the recipe.
Avocado ice cream is a popular option, but if you are starting, this avocado pudding is a great place to start.
Start serving up those veggies
With a little imagination, hiding vegetables in your kid’s food isn’t hard; it can even be fun.
The best part is that you will benefit just as much as your kids do from sneaking vegetables into everyday foods. They won’t be any wiser and you'll feel better knowing that they're getting the healthy vegetables they need to grow.