Adding vegetables to kids food is something that seems to present a massive challenge to a lot of parents of both young and slightly older children. It’s not only my kids I have to persuade to eat more of the good stuff, as the man is known for avoiding much of it where he can.
With a child fussy eater emerging on my hands, it was getting to the point he was eating absolutely zero in the way of fruit or veg. The only way to deal with it was to add it to foods that he’d not suspect.
It’s no mean feat to get veggies into a child that screws up their face and would rather do without them, but there are some fabulous cheats we can use to hoodwink our kiddies. It’s normal for kids to go off and on their fruit and vegetables and the secret is not to make a big deal of it and let them come round in their own time. I’ve found that if I make a huge deal out of it, the offending fruit or veg is looked upon with disdain forever more and mealtimes become a chore.
It really is worth experimenting to find things you can hide fruit and veges in. It is easier to do fruit as it is naturally sweet and much more palatable but with a little work you could incorporate almost any vegetable that you could think of into something nutritious and healthy.
1. Bake It In
Carrot cake and beetroot brownies are among two types of cake I’ve made to tempt my kids into getting some of their five a day. I’ve also made fruit into cake, eg peach and pear muffins and I’ve often added far more fruit and veg than recipes ask for. It always gets chomped down in quick style by kids sure they are getting lots of not so good goodies into their bellies. Why not try adding in other vegetables and fruits that can be chopped tiny. There are endless options from banana bread to grated apple cookies, apple pancakes and much more.
2. Drink It Up With Smoothie
We make LOTS of smoothies and with good reason. I keep mine fairly free-flowing where possible as they seem to prefer it like that and more like juice. It’s amazing what you can make with fresh fruit and even better if you fizz it up with a sodastream to give it that fizzy effect.
3. Grate Them Up Small and Add Them To Stews And Casseroles
If you’re making a casserole and children won’t eat things like carrots, finely grate them in and they won’t notice them.
4. Sneak It Into A Burger
For a child who doesn’t want to eat fruit and veg, he’s happy enough to munch down a burger. I often use mince to make up burger patties and just mix in finely chopped vegetables before forming the burger shape.
5. Hide It In A Pizza
The secret is always in how finely you grate them up. If they’re the right colour, they can go in. If I make cheese and tomato pizza, I add whizzed up fresh tomatoes just under the cheese and often just use passata instead of pizza sauce. They can never tell the difference. If I’m using dark cheese, I’ll finely grate carrots and pop that just under the cheese.
6. Pop It In A Soup
Boyo loves chicken noodle soup but there isn’t much goodness in that so I make the stock for the soup with white coloured vegetables, mostly potatoes and a little cauliflower, blend it and then add the noodles. Hey presto, some veggie goodness thrown in.
7. Freeze It In
How easy is it to make frozen icicles. Use the easily found icicle makers with popsicle sticks and just add pureed fruit to them. They are delicious. Make any flavour ice cream or sorbet you want with fresh vegetables and all the goodness is in the freezer for any time you need it.
8. Pasta With Veg
Macaroni is quite easy. I add things like very finely chopped onions so that they disappear into the food if they are the same colour as the sauce. Pasta with tomato sauce I usually make with passata as that can hide a multitude of fresh red coloured vegetables like tomatoes, red peppers, red onions and more.
9. Bash It All Together Like Bubble and Squeak (Rumpledethumps in Scotland)
The leftover dish is perfect for adding veges. I even get away with greens in these. A little light frying of left over vegetables mixed in with mashed potatoes and shaped into a general burger shape. I’ve managed to add squash, turnip, seaweed, spinach and more into this fabulous dish. These tattie, onions and cheese ones were really popular here.
10. Dessert Veges
Yes, you really can add vegetables into desserts and get away with it. Chocolate covers a multitude of things as the taste covers up almost everything it is cooked with. How about a Chocolate and Cinnamon mousse with a little avocado and sweet potato. Pumpkin pies can be loaded with beautiful pumpkin and why not try bread and butter pudding with added courgette or cucumber, or ginger, or parsnips.