You’ve tried all the usual tricks to get your little one to eat vegetables. But after months of offering dips with vegetable sticks, arranging vegetables in the shape of smiley faces, and every other trick in the book, your little one still rejects vegetables out-of-hand. Of course you want to continue to teach your child that vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. But until they get the picture, you may have to resort to some sneaky solutions to get the extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber into their meals.
At times like these, your blender can be your best friend. Pureed or blended vegetables blend in so well with lots of different foods that your children – or even grownups – won’t even know about the extra benefits they’re getting. You can simply start with frozen vegetables like broccoli or spinach, steam them according to the package directions, and then puree them in your blender or food processor. Then add the mixture to sauces, soups, casseroles, or baked goods.
A great example is adding pureed vegetables to Italian-style tomato sauce. Underneath all of those spices and flavorings you can hide a lot of vegetables. Add pureed carrots, spinach, peas, or broccoli to your pizza or pasta sauce, and chances are your little one will never know the difference. Similarly, if your child will eat soup or stews but not the large vegetable pieces, just blend the vegetables up and let them get mixed in with the liquid.
Mashed potatoes are another good “hiding” food. You can mix in blended cauliflower or parsnips without changing the color at all; or add pureed sweet potatoes for a slightly rosier look that will still have the taste of regular mashed potatoes.
Then there are fruit smoothies, which can be a super-sneaky source for your vegetables. As long as you’re mixing fruits together, what’s another vegetable? Add some carrots along with the fruit in your next fruit smoothie and the result will probably be just as sweet and flavorful as your all-fruit smoothies.
If don’t want to use your blender, you can add baby food vegetables to a variety of different foods. Store-bought baby food should just contain the vegetable and a little bit of water, so you are essentially getting the same thing as if you had turned on your blender at home. Baby food vegetables can be stirred in to sauces, soups, chili, lasagna, or casseroles and no one will be the wiser.
You can also try plenty of sneaky techniques with your grater. Grated carrots or zucchini can be added to baked goods such as muffins, quick breads, or even pancakes without much of a change in taste or texture. You can slip grated vegetables in with grilled cheese sandwiches or quesadillas and the vegetables will probably go unnoticed under the melted cheese. Some moms like to stir grated vegetables in with ground beef when they are making hamburgers, meatballs, or meatloaf because once it is cooked the meat disguises the look of the vegetables. You can also mix grated cabbage in with some lettuce on a night when you’re making tacos; let the kids assemble their own so that they can take pride in their creations.
Again, it’s still important to encourage your children to eat vegetables – and it’s important for them to see you enjoying vegetables as well. But until they get to that point, you can make everyone’s meal a little more nutritious with the sneaky addition of a few “extras” that no one ever has to know about.