How to sneak vegetables into family meals
The need to get your little ones to eat their vegetables and the desire for a peaceful dinner time is an eternal dilemma that nearly every parent faces at one time or another.
Children will often refuse to try vegetables when presented in the normal way so if you want to get them to eat what’s good for them, it’s much easier to get creative.
By sneaking vegetables into family meals you can have a hassle-free dinner with the satisfaction of knowing they’re getting the all-important nutrients. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Most children enjoy pizza and it can seem like a real treat but if you’re smart you can make it a healthy meal that packs in the veg.
Some children only need the incentive of being able to make their own pizza to eat everything up, but if that won’t work, chopping up vegetables finely and sprinkling them over the base is a great way to introduce foods that they wouldn’t normally eat.
Another cheeky option is to mix up pumpkin puree with the tomato puree for the base. This is packed full of goodness and children will love the sweet, creamy taste.
It’s easy to sneak vegetables onto a pizza
Although smoothies are often most associated with fruit, vegetables can also be mixed in for a delicious result.
A full-blown green smoothie might be too much for your child to stomach so look out for recipes which blends fruit and vegetables together. Vegetables which are naturally sweet, such as carrots, work particularly well.
Apple, carrot, lemon and ginger smoothie might be one your child can enjoy
If you’re making a sauce you have an immense opportunity to hide all kinds of vegetables without anyone suspecting.
If it’s a Bolognese, you could substitute some of the beef for mushrooms; you’ll still have a nice meaty flavour but a powerful shot of nutrients too without any of the fat (OK, mushrooms aren’t technically a vegetable but they deliver the same kind of benefits….)
Spinach is another vegetable which many children turn up their noses at but if you chop it up and add it to the sauce just before the end of cooking; you’ll be able to sneak it in. It won’t change the flavour of the sauce but will add a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals effortlessly.
Baked and roasted dishes such as lasagne can be an easier option for youngsters to stomach. By chopping up vegetables very finely you can add a whole range of different produce such as peppers, carrots, swede, aubergine and mushrooms. The process of baking softens the veg, making it easier to eat as well as helping the flavours to blend with the sauce. For vegetables which are slightly bitterer in flavour, this is a particularly good method to try.
However, if your child is especially picky and doesn’t like the texture of chopped vegetables in their food, there is the option of smoothing out any lumps.
If you’re making a sauce of any kind, add in any vegetables you want to include and whizz it all through the blender. This will produce a smooth sauce with no lumps so your child won’t be able to pick through and pull out the bits they don’t like.
There’s lots of different ways to sneak vegetables into your children’s food but it’s important that you keep trying conventional methods too. Showing them that vegetables form part of a healthy meal gives the right message and also provides them with the opportunity to try foods voluntarily too. You might think that will never happen but children have a never-ending capacity to surprise their parents in the most unexpected of ways!
Written by Carly Garrett