Vegetables are an essential part of a growing child’s diet, but most kids will choose brownies over broccoli any day. Even adding a few carrot sticks as a side to their PB & Js may be enough for picky eaters to push away their plates.
Kids’ aversion to veggies is unfortunate news – vegetables contain vital nutrients and minerals that they need to grow up strong. But the toughest problems in life require a little creativity and ingenuity, especially when it comes to getting your kids to eat more veggies.
Turns out, you just have to be a little sneaky about it. It doesn’t have to be complicated – slice up veggies ahead of time and keep them in containers in the fridge to add a nutrient boost to meals in just seconds.
Here are six clever ways to have your kids eat more veggies and – gasp – maybe even get them to enjoy them!
- Hide produce in popsicles
Making your own produce popsicles is a great way to add more veggies to your kids’ diets, especially in the hot summer months. If you balance vegetables with sweet fruit in the popsicles, your kids won’t even know the green stuff is there – and best of all, the popsicle possibilities are endless. Simply puree vegetables and then pour them into popsicle molds, add sticks and freeze. Butternut squash, bell peppers, carrots and peas are all great picks for veggie popsicles. Just add sugar-free fruit juice – or chunks of frozen fruit – to the popsicle molds to balance the veggie tastes. You can even freeze cucumber slices, pineapple juice and a dash of lemon juice for a refreshing treat your kids will love.
Kids need their veggies – and you need a new strategy to get them to eat them!
- Add pureed veggies to pasta sauces
Pasta sauces present a great opportunity to sneak several servings of veggies into your kids' favorite meals. Thick sauces will hide a variety of pureed veggies so well that they won't suspect a thing. Try pureeing zucchini, squash or carrots and stirring them into tomato-based sauces. Even Alfredo sauce gets a nutrient boost when you add pureed cauliflower. Chunkier pasta sauces, like Bolognese, also hide chopped vegetables particularly well. The blogger at Life As Mama adds chopped fresh spinach to her meat sauce - and her kids have yet to complain!
- Replace noodles with vegetables
Think your kids would never accept veggies as a substitute for their favorite carbs? Think again. There are so many different ways you can swap vegetables for noodles, with delicious results. Aptly-named spaghetti squash imitates angel hair pasta and linguine, and can be tossed with a sauces and cheeses like regular pasta. Spiralizers can turn a few zucchinis or eggplants into long noodles, while even thinly sliced carrots and squash be a healthier replacement for pasta.
Spaghetti squash - a great pasta substitute with tons of nutrients.
- Sip on smoothies
Creamy smoothies are a great way to get your kids to eat more veggies - they'll feel like they're enjoying a tasty dessert instead of getting their daily serving of vegetables. Don't just plop a green smoothie loaded with kale, spinach and wheatgrass and expect your kids to get sipping - the key to making smoothies that kids will actually enjoy is balancing veggies with sweeter fruits. For some great smoothie ideas, check out our post here.
- Add cabbage to Sloppy Joes
Cabbage contains lots of the good stuff growing bodies need - like potassium, Vitamins B1 and B2, iron and calcium - but good luck getting most kids to touch it. Instead, try this clever recipe from The Foods Fool for Sloppy Joes - believe it or not, it contains a good 2 cups of cabbage, with no impact on the taste.
- Power up pizza
Forever a kid-favorite, pizza is prime for packing with veggies in creative ways. Finely chop some bell peppers or broccoli to sprinkle atop pizza for extra flavor and nutrients, or try great-tasting topping combos like barbecue chicken and caramelized onions, or Italian sausage with roasted red bell peppers. If your kids are super picky, however, you may have to be a sneaky. When making a pizza from scratch, layer fresh spinach leaves on the dough before adding the sauce. You can also bulk up the pizza sauce with chopped veggies, or hide thinly sliced mushrooms, onions, peppers, carrots or zucchini under the top layer of gooey cheese.