My daughter is three years old and I can count on one hand the number of foods she likes. The toddler pickiness is so real with us right now and I long for the days when she starts liking more foods! Like a lot of kids, my daughter doesn’t like most vegetables and the only one she will eat right now is canned green beans. It is a daily struggle for me to get vegetables in her so I’m constantly brainstorming ways to sneak them into her meals and snacks. Here are a few ways I’ve been able to get them in.
1. Chopping up veggies so small that my daughter doesn’t see them
One positive thing that has come out of my daughter’s pickiness with vegetables is that her mama is getting some amazing cutting skills! I’ve found that chopping up vegetables into very tiny pieces has allowed me to sneak them into her meals. Grating carrots then cutting the carrots makes them so minuscule she doesn’t notice. Actually, grating any vegetable and throwing into a stir fry, soup, pasta, etc. is a sneaky way to get them in there.
2. Veggie Pasta Sauce
Another great way I’ve been able to incorporate vegetables my daughter won’t normally even touch is to puree roasted or cooked veggies to create a pasta sauce. I usually roast some zucchini and carrots with some olive oil and a lot of Italian spices and bake them in the oven until soft and crispy. Then I sautee a handful of spinach and add the roasted veggies to a food processor along with some spaghetti sauce and voila a sneaky sauce is created that can go over noodles or be used as a pizza sauce. Another variation of this that I learned from a friend is to make mac and cheese with a veggie sauce. You can still use the box of mac and cheese but just puree some cooked veggies add it to the noodles and top with the cheese from the package. Kids seem to love anything with cheese too, so always a winner!
3. Muffins and Breads
Like most kids, my daughter loves sweets, so I took advantage of this and started sneaking in some vegetables into muffins and breads. I try to look for recipes that use whole wheat flour and don’t use refined sugar. I prefer to use pure maple syrup or honey as the sweetener. My daughter has enjoyed banana zucchini muffins and carrot cake muffins and in the fall loves muffins or breads with pumpkin in it (I think pumpkin is technically a fruit, but most people consider it a vegetable for culinary purposes). I’ve been wanting to try a sweet potato chocolate chip muffin too (oops a little sugar in there with the chocolate chips but you can go sparingly)!
I’ve been able to incorporate a nice variety of vegetables into my daughter’s smoothies and with the hot weather coming kids will love the cold and refreshing taste. Smoothies allow me to sneak in greens like kale and spinach. The combinations are endless, and you can mix it up with different add-ins like chia seeds, nut butters, and oats to name a few. I’ve found a great template for smoothies using this website.
5. Veggie Nuggets/Patties
Kids seem to love anything dipped in ketchup and I’ve had luck with making some veggie nuggets and patties. I’ve made broccoli and cheese nuggets, potato patties with spinach, carrots, and cheese, black bean and sweet potato patties, and zucchini fritters. A majority of the time I will include cheese to really entice my daughter.
I hope these ideas will help you with a picky vegetable eater at home and I would love to hear about any ways you sneak veggies into your child’s diet! Thanks for reading!