As a kid, the only vegetables I would eat were potatoes, corn and tomatoes (in the form of ketchup or ‘spaghetti’ sauce, not actual tomatoes). Even as a teenager, I was made fun of by friends and family for eating my sandwiches and burgers sans veggies. I’ve come to love some vegetables and tolerate most but they’re definitely an acquired taste.
My girls are pretty much following in my footsteps as not being part of the veggie fan club. I’m not one to force feed them anything so until they make the conscious decision to eat vegetables on their own, I sneak them into some of their favorite foods.
Pureed pumpkin is an easy one to sneak into Pumpkin muffins, pancakes or even Pumpkin macaroni and cheese. I’ve tricked the girls into eating these delish pumpkin pancakes from How To Simplify. Throw a little maple syrup or peanut butter on top and they eat them right up without even a second thought that there may be veggies hidden in their beloved pancakes.
My girls really dig smoothies (this May or may not be because mom occasionally refers to them as milkshakes – don’t judge). Smoothies are a great way to sneak in veggies but don’t go overboard or the kids will sniff them out. I’ll throw a few spinach leaves into berry based smoothies, cucumber slices with pineapple smoothies and shredded carrot or carrot juice in with citrus based smoothies. We don’t really do recipes when it comes to smoothies, I just throw some frozen fruit (bananas are great for added sweetness), a complementary veggie, some Greek yogurt for protein and milk or coconut water and blend into a drinkable consistency. You can also make extra and throw it in some Popsicle mold for a tasty frozen treat later.
My favorite way to sneak veggies into my kids food is through marinara sauce. Granted, marinara is tomatoes but I like to add extra vegetables on top if that. This is my favorite clean marinara sauce recipe from Skinny Ms.
I actually just whipped up a batch yesterday. I throw about half a cup of shredded carrots and half a cup of fresh spinach (you could totally use frozen) in with the tomatoes for extra veggie power.
After it cooks and cools a bit, I put it in the blender to get a smooth consistency and to erase the evidence of the carrots and spinach. I divide the sauce up into the small snack sized ziplock bags and then throw them in the freezer. I like the small snack size bags because you can always defrost more than one.
I use this sauce over pasta, with meatballs and on pizza and the girls love it.
I also find that cooking with my kids makes them more willing to try new foods, including veggies.
What are your secrets to getting your kids to eat vegetables and other healthy foods?