Getting kids to eat vegetables and other “unfun” foods can be difficult. Unfortunately, the human taste buds don’t drool over Brussels Sprouts, like they do over fudge brownies.
But, the fact remains that children need a well-balanced diet that is primarily based on those “unfun” foods, not only for good health, but, to stave off obesity that is growing among the young population at alarming rates. Here are some ways to sneak vegetables into foods kids love.
Before You Begin
Don’t assume your kids will hate vegetables. Begin to feed them to toddlers when the solid food stage begins.
Add a variety of colorful choices to their high chair tray, and see what they do. They may just love them, and keep gobbling them up as they grow.
If not, or, if as they get older they begin to reject them, then look for alternatives.
If the prospect of sneaking is a turn off, then try to involve finicky eaters in cooking and choosing foods at the market.
Behavioral science reports that picky eating is typically a control issue and what better way to counteract that than by having kids choose their own veggies at the market. They are more likely to eat what they choose than what is chosen for them.
Also, kids love to help and to do “grown up” things, so why not have them help in meal preparation?
Children as young as 4 can do things, like tear spinach, spread tuna salad on bread and create peanut butter and apple slice platters.
Layout a spread of veggies and do fun spelling games with their names using the veggies, this type of positive association with vegetables can go a long way to make them more appealing.
The older kids can cut, mince, dice, measure and grate.
Make a big production at meal time as to how the kids helped, name dishes after them, especially, the healthy ones, like, Lisa’s Steamed Vegetable Medley or Joe’s Salad Surprise.
On To Sneaking
If nothing else works, there is always the sneaky options described below that are sure fire ways to get that goodness into the foods they love and will eat.
One of the best and most effective ways to get more vegetables into your kids diet is through smoothies.
These cold, tasty concoctions are the best way to hide vegetables and provide them in their purest form to kids.
Use a fruit blend, of blueberries, bananas, orange juice and nonfat vanilla yogurt and then throw in spinach and/or kale.
The end result is a healthy antioxidant wild blue colored drink they will love without any clue that it is loaded with spinach.
Tip: Any green leafy vegetable blends well.
Another great way to get your kids pure raw nutrition is through juicing. Fruits can be blended with vegetables to create a balanced concoction of nutrients without the taste of spinach.
Most all vegetables juice well, including, spinach, kale, cucumber, carrots and tomatoes.
There are many recipes online for blends that work well with various fruit.
This type of practice is sound for everyday use as an alternative to buying sugar filled kid beverages at the store
Get a juicer and juice at home to make wholesome goodness for your kids and hide the vegetables they hate.
Everything Is Better With Cheese
A study conducted at Arizona State University found that kids who were given vegetables with cream cheese and other cheese sauces were more likely to eat them and actually like them, even when they were served to them later without the cheese.
Mac And Cheese With A Twist
Foods Kids Love are mac and cheese and often you can throw in some vegetables and they won’t complain.
Vegetables that go well with mac and cheese:
• Finely chopped Brussels sprouts
Another great trick is to use pureed vegetables to thicken the cheese sauce for mac and cheese.
Overall, pureed vegetables can be used as a thickener for many sauces, and is a recommended healthy cooking method.
Foods Kids Love involves sauces, and sneaking pureed vegetables into them works every time. They are also easy to make and can be kept in the freezer (remember to label) for quick access as needed.
• Puree carrots, zucchini winter squash, peppers, onions, or greens into marinara sauce.
• Plain yogurt blended with white beans goes perfectly with tuna or chicken salad, instead of mayo.
• Sweet potatoes and carrots work great as pureed veggies for sauces.
• Zucchini, corn, carrots and a little sweet onion can be pureed together to make a sweet sauce for pasta, and using fun pasta shapes can entice kids even more.
• Try pumpkin or butternut squash puree in pancake mix.
• Substitute strips of softened zucchini for pasta in lasagna.
• Add a layer of pureed spinach beneath pizza sauce and toppings.
• Steam and finely grate cauliflower into scrambled eggs.
• Finely grated cauliflower works great in chicken and tuna salad too.
All kids love fries, but, fried potatoes hold little nutritional value, and have loads of fat and calories.
• Sweet potato fries: cut thick wedges, brush with olive oil, sprinkle a little bit of salt, and garlic powder and bake in the oven until golden brown on the outside and tender on the inside.
• Carrots can be baked into fries shaped goodness too.
All kids love cookies, muffins, pancakes, banana bread and other baked goods.
The typical recipes call for a lot of sugar, but, did you know that instead of that sugar you can use pureed fruit, which is often sweeter, but, much healthier than the refined stuff.
Pureed Fruit As A Sweetener
Adding Vegetables To Baked Goods
• Shredded zucchini and carrots work great in many baked goods recipes, including, pancakes, muffins and breads, and it’s not just for Carrot Cake anymore.
• Drained and mashed black beans substitute flour in dark baked goods, such as brownies.
• Crated carrots hide well in brownies too.
• Carrot and sweet potato puree works well with many cookie recipes, including chocolate chip cookies.
• Grated zucchini works great in chocolate chip cookies, especially when there are nuts and flakes of coconut to hide the texture.
• You can even sneak a little bran into baked goods for better nutrition.
Foods Kids Love include fun food, and alphabet soup is just that!
You can use alphabet pasta, they even have it in whole grain and organic versions, for any type of soup you want.
That alphabet pasta should make the soup fun enough to overlook the abundance of vegetables floating next to them, works great with:
• Vegetable soup
• Turkey Soup
• Chicken Noodle Soup
Where’s The Beef?
How about hiding veggies in a turkey or beef burger? Works every time.
Simply use a food processor or a Bullet to chop veggies to very very fine pieces and then blend into the meat, make patties and Voila, healthier burgers!
Vegetables That Work Best:
• Brussels Sprouts
• Bell Peppers
• Garlic (has many health benefits)
Mashed Potatoes With A Twist
Steamed cauliflower can be blended into mashed potatoes to add a nice boost of Vitamin C and Potassium.
Try to match colors as much as possible when sneaking veggies, especially with older kids that can get hip to what you are doing.
For example, adding spinach to mashed potatoes is a dead giveaway.
However, depending on the kids, adding colorful veggies to mac and cheese as one example, might be A okay! You just have to test and see.
Don’t get caught, as this can really give kids a very negative association with healthy food.
Filed under: Nutrition for Kids