At Eric’s Health Foods we love our vegetables. But surprisingly, not every person on the planet feels the same way.
One notoriously picky audience when it comes to vegetables is children. So, we have put together some hints and tips for hiding these awesome superfoods into meals and snacks to help your kids get the nutrition they need.
These tips work very well if you are trying to get fussy adults to eat their greens too.
Why do kids need to eat their vegetables?
Depending on their age, it is recommended that children get between 3 and 4 serves of vegetables a day. They should eat a range of different vegetables and a good rule of thumb is the bigger variety or color, the better.
Vegetables contain nutrients, vitamins and minerals that people need to thrive and function. But more importantly for children, these nutrients are needed to help the child’s body develop and grow.
Vegetables are sources mostly of the vitamins children need, including A, the B group vitamins, C, D, E and K. They are also a great source of iron, protein, fiber and calcium.
Some of the best sources of nutrients include:
- Green vegetables – broccoli, spinach, zucchini, peas, beans, kale, cabbage, lettuce
- Red vegetables – beetroot, bell pepper, tomatoes (technically a fruit, but still awesome for you)
- Orange vegetables – carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato
Tips for hiding vegetables from fussy eaters
Vegetables have incredible natural flavor, which is wonderful when enhanced and brought out in full strength. But for some reason, children turn their noses up at veggies.
It might be a matter of color, texture or that their grown ups are not great at cooking veggies to bring out their best. It could just be the reputation. But when children can’t see or find the veggies, they tend to love what they are eating.
Pull out your food processor and add ingredients to your heart’s content – your children need never know what you have hidden inside.
One of our favorite combinations includes a tin of drained cannellini beans, ½ cup cashews, a cup of mushrooms, 2 grated carrots, one egg and salt and pepper to season. Pulse until just combined, don’t turn it into a paste. Form thick patties and let them sit in the fridge for at least an hour to help hold their shape before cooking.
An extremely simple go to recipe for families is fritters. Serve with tomato sauce or sweet chilli and they can’t get enough. You can hide almost any veggies in fritters that are floating around the bottom of your crisper, but we love the following mix:
Grate sweet potato and carrots until you have about 3 cups of vegetables. Add one cup of grated cheese, a cup of self-raising flour, a tin of drained corn kernels and four whisked eggs. Add seasoning or herbs and spices to taste and stir it all through until the batter is combined and relatively smooth.
Cook spoonfuls of the batter in a hot frypan, flipping over after a few minutes until they are cooked through and golden brown.
If your kids don’t mind dip (even if they won’t touch the julienned vegetables that come served beside it) you can hide several serves of veggie goodness in the dip itself.
Check out recipes for beetroot or roasted bell pepper dip. Serve with corn chips for and extra dose of fiber.
You could also use a great veggie dip as a layer in homemade nachos; when deliciously smushed between the chips and oozy melted cheese your kids will scoff their veggies right up.
Bolognaise or cottage pie
When making a minced sauce such as bolognaise, cottage pie or throwing together a mix for hamburgers or meatloaf, you can hide plenty of grated veggies in with the rest of the ingredients. Try sneaking in grated carrot, beetroot, zucchini; along with a lovely boost of antioxidants from the tomato-based sauce, they will have no idea how much goodness you are getting into them.
When making lasagne, instead of layers of pasta, throw in layers of roasted sliced vegetables, such as sweet potato, bell pepper, zucchini and eggplant.
Invest in a nifty device called a spiralizer, and you can create noodles out of any vegetable. The easiest is probably zucchini; you can create noodle shaped strips of zucchini and use them as a substitute for pasta in any dish.
One of the veggies that kids don’t seem to mind eating too much is potato. Potato tots are probably a great favorite of your children.
You can take this love of tots and make anything out of it. Check out this wonderfully easy broccoli tots recipe here: https://www.justataste.com/easy-baked-broccoli-tots-recipe/
They are very green, we much admit, but if you’re kids aren’t put off by color alone then these tots will definitely be a winner.
Most children will happily drink in fresh fruit juice but try to convince them that vegetable juice is great for them too is a certain way to get their lips pursed tightly shut. The trick here is not to tell them that there are veggies in there. You can very easily hide some tasty veggies in a fruit juice mix and they will be none the wiser.
Try these combinations:
- Apple, orange, pineapple and carrot juice
- Mango, kiwi, banana and spinach juice
- Mixed berries, apple and beetroot juice
Cakes and Breads
You can also sneak veggies into a wide variety of sweet treats, including breads, cakes and muffins. You’d be surprised how many vegetables go well in baked goods, such as zucchini, carrot, beetroot, sweet potato and more.