Sneaky ways to get your kids to eat more vegetables!
The battle days are over to get children to eat their vegetables! Parents, we know how challenging it can be sometimes to get our little ones to eat their greens that they so desperately need for their little bodies to keep growing!
Bribing kids into eating their greens will only work for so long, and we really want to be teaching our children the benefits of eating healthy to provide them with a foundation of understanding why our body needs healthy foods and vegetables.
So, we should be focusing on educating our children’s palates and brains with delicious and nutritious foods, as well as teaching them WHY we need to eat these foods and what they do for our minds and bodies.
Working with hundreds of children from ages 0-5 we have experienced a lot of ‘fussy’ eaters as well as a lot of children that do not want to eat their veggies. So, we have listed below 7 recipes we have found effective in ‘hiding’ veggies in so children can get the maximum amount of nutrients without even realising!
1 – Mini Quiches with Hidden Veggies
Children love these mini-quiches – they are bite sized delicious goodness! These little quiches are a really easy way to hide nutritious veggies amongst cheese and egg. We love mixing zucchini, carrot and potato grated up finely and combined into the mixture. The kiddies will have NO idea just how nutritious these are!
Here is a great recipe on how to make mini quiches with hidden veggies.
2 – Spaghetti and Meatballs
Who doesn’t love a spaghetti and meatball pasta dish? This dish is our ‘go to’ dish at Kids Club – our chefs pack so many nutritious vegetables into the meatballs, the children are none the wiser. You can use vegetables such as carrot, broccoli, zucchini, squash, sweet potato, and asparagus finely grated into the meat ball mixture then rolled up and served on top of traditional pasta or you can use zoodles (zucchini noodles).
Here is a vegie-packed meatball recipe, you can give a go!
3 – Veggie Packed Pizza Rolls
Another house favourite, pizza rolls, except with hidden vegetables. We like to hold cooking classes at Kids Club, and these pizza rolls are great for the kids to get involved in making and use the experience as a moment to talk about healthy foods and “sometimes foods”. We like to use the following vegetables when making these little beauties: spinach, capsicum (red, yellow), mushrooms, tomatoes, onion and carrot. If you can make your own pizza sauce and dough/pastry, then you can be in control of the sugar content. Otherwise try to use a pizza sauce that is low in sugar.
Here is a great recipe on veggie packed pizza rolls for kids!
4 – Double Chocolate Whole Wheat Muffins
Afternoon tea can be challenging if you don’t have something ready for the little mouths to munch on! We use this choc muffin as another opportunity to give the children more vegetables, as they are packed with zucchini and carrot, this is truly a hidden vegetable snack! Because of the subtle flavours of the zucchini and carrot, they have no idea just how good these snacks are!
Here is a really easy to follow recipe to make these veggie packed goodies!
5 – Pumpkin Soup
Soups are a really easy way to add in heaps of vegetables! We use a classic pumpkin soup and then add potatoes, celery, broccoli and carrot! So many vegetables and you can easily blend them all up! When smoothly blended, you can maybe add a dollop of light cream or milk, and “ta-da” – you’ve got a healthy vegetable soup. Served with toasted bread, the little ones will have lots of fun dipping and slurping their “hidden” vegetable soup up!
6 – Chicken and Veggie Nuggets
Children LOVE nuggets, and chicken & veggie nuggets are super easy to make as well. This is another simple recipe where you can add any veggies you want finely grated up and combined into a chicken mince mixture, use a little bit of cheese for extra flavour, then mould a portion into a nugget shape and bake. You could make your own tomato sauce also packed with extra veggies and the children will enjoy a delicious nugget meal. Maybe add some baked sweet potato or parsnip fries on the side?
7 – Carrot Cake Energy Bites
Another great morning or afternoon tea snack, that you can make and store in the fridge for a few days are these carrot cake energy bites. Using carrots, oats, sunflower seeds and some dates for natural sugar, these little balls give the kids that extra kick of energy needed until their next veggie packed meal.
Here is a simple 7 step recipe to make these no-bake energy balls.
We could post an endless list of recipes and meals that sneakily hide veggies! The similarity (and trick!) between them all is using finely grated vegetables and cooking them amongst other elements of a dish.
It is important to also note just how many veggies and fruits children should be eating each day – you can see the ideal amount here on Healthy Kids NSW. They also mention that “children may need to try new fruits and vegetables up to 10 times before they accept them” so be patient and persistent!
A Kids Club secret, is we like to make savoury muffins and add grated carrots to them, or pumpkin, zucchinis, peas and corn! We use moments of cooking and eating as time to educate the children about how our bodies need to grow and be healthy. Our second trick is to involve them in the preparation. Cook with your children, it’s quality time plus develops their motor skills and their interest in good ingredients. Teaching the children this from a young age is when they will develop the understanding and respect for their health and bodies.
At the end of the day we are in the business of education, it is our role to educate our children on how to make the right choice when it comes to food. This includes being aware of what foods are everyday foods and what foods are “sometimes foods.”
About the Author
Valerie Le Baron is an integral member of the Kids Club Early Learning Centre team. During her current tenure, she’s helped double the footprint of Kids Club’s centres by working closely with Operations, Kids Club’s Educational Directors as well as Carers. Kids Club’s geographic footprint currently includes a number of long day care centres in Sydney and Canberra. She’s also behind Kids Club’s external parent comms and behind the scenes of Kids Club TV.