Sneaking extra vegetables and fruits into your child’s diet is a great way to get them used to different flavors. Some kids won’t touch freshly cut raw veggies and fruit because they haven’t developed a taste for them or they don’t like the texture. Giving these kids the nutritional boost they need inside of their favorite dishes or serving them specially prepared treats will help them get used to natural foods.
There is a lot of debate in the parenting community about whether we should or shouldn’t hide veggies and fruits in food, many parents feel that hiding food is the best way to increase their child’s nutrition. It is far better and easier to get them to eat their favorite foods with added ingredients than it is to teach them to take daily vitamins to make up for a poor diet.
Experimenting with food is one of the best ways to get your kids to eat healthy. In fact, getting the kids involved in picking out their own fruits and vegetables in the grocery store or farmers market and having them help you prepare the food in the kitchen will go a long way towards getting them to eat natural foods. Kids are surprising, and they will often eat what they helped to make without all the fuss.
18 Pureed Vegetables in Spaghetti Sauce
Kids love spaghetti and will eat it without question, no matter what you hide in the sauce. The easiest way to get veggies into the sauce is to cook and then puree them first. A general rule of thumb is to add 1 part vegetable puree to 2 parts sauce. A 24 ounce jar of tomato sauce equals 3 cups of sauce. You can easily add 1-1/2 cups of cooked, pureed vegetables to this sauce, such as carrots, squash, peppers, sautéed onions, and zucchini, and the kids will never know it. Mix the sauce and pureed vegetables together and heat the veggie sauce over a medium burner until hot. Serve over cooked noodles.
17 Homemade Fruit Pops
While some kids refuse to eat freshly cut fruit, they won’t refuse a summertime fruit pop. To make your own fruit pops, you will need popsicle sticks and a popsicle mold. Popsicle sticks can be found in most craft stores and online. For popsicle molds, you can use small paper cups or buy popsicle molds from larger chain stores. Make the popsicles by choosing one or two fruits, such as watermelon, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, mangos, apricots, and even kiwis. For citrus pops, you can either buy orange, lemon, or grapefruit juice at the store or juice your own citrus. Prepare the fruit by washing it under cool water, removing the skins, seeds, and pits. Puree the fruit in a blender and pour the mixture into the molds. Add the popsicle sticks, freeze, and enjoy.
16 Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are a great comfort food, but they are high in carbs. Next time you plan on serving mashed potatoes, try this healthy alternative. Clean, cut, and boil a medium head of cauliflower in salted water until it is soft. Reserve about a 1/4 cup of the water and drain the cauliflower. Puree the cauliflower in a food processor with either a tablespoon of vegan butter or extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle in a pinch of sea salt. Add water, if needed, to the puree until the cauliflower is well mashed. Serve hot. Don’t tell anyone that it’s not true mashed potatoes and see if they notice. I bet they won’t!!
15 Make Zucchini Cake
Adding shredded zucchini to cakes has got to be one of the oldest tricks in the book and it is a healthy alternative to the oil added to cake recipes. To make your own zucchini cake, choose a chocolate or spice cake recipe and see how much oil is needed to make it. You can replace the oil with an equal amount of zucchini by washing and shredding the zucchini with a cheese grater. If you don’t feel comfortable removing all the oil from the recipe, then replace half of the oil with zucchini. This will significantly reduce the amount of calories in the cake and it will make the cake healthier for you and the kids.
14 Add Pureed Veggies to Bread Recipes
Pureed vegetables are a great way to add some fun colors to homemade yeast breads. Pureed beets will give breads a reddish to almost purplish color. Greens will make the bread green. Carrots will give breads a beautiful orange color and, if you have a color picky eater, pureed cauliflower won’t add any color to your bread. To use pureed veggies in a yeast bread recipe, begin by replacing half the liquid amount in the bread recipe with an equal amount of vegetable puree. Since pureed vegetables have different amounts of water content, you will probably need to add a small amount of liquid to the dough, either water or milk, until the dough is soft and not sticky to the touch. Bake your bread according to the recipe’s instructions and you should have a wonderfully colorful loaf of bread that kids will love.
13 Add Fresh Fruits to Frozen Yogurt Smoothies
A healthy alternative to milkshakes made with ice cream, the kids won’t know you actually made this with frozen yogurt. For each serving, put 1 cup of frozen vanilla yogurt in a blender. Add 1 cup of fruit or berries, fresh or frozen, and about 1/4 cup of milk. Blend on high speed until smooth. If the smoothie is too thick, add a touch more milk to the blender and blend again. Serve this delicious treat whenever the kids have a sweet tooth.
12 Bake With Applesauce
Reduce the amount of calories your family eats by replacing oil with applesauce in your baking recipes. You can use all natural applesauce in almost any baked recipe that calls for cooking oil, such as vegetable or canola oil. Cakes, brownies, and muffins taste a lot better when baked with applesauce and are a heck of a lot healthier for you and the kids, too.
11 Add Shredded Carrots to the Meatloaf
Meatloaf is great for hiding extra vegetables. Onions can be minced and peppers can be finely chopped and tossed in with the meat, but a favorite trick is to add carrots. Carrots are great antioxidant vegetables and, if your child won’t eat them on their own, putting them into the meatloaf is a great way to sneak them into her diet. First, wash and, if desired, skin a carrot. Shred or grate 1/2 cup of carrot for each pound of ground meat. Mix the carrot in with the rest of your ingredients and bake the meatloaf as instructed. If you are worried that your child might be able to pick out the carrot bits in the meatloaf, you can cook and puree the carrots first before mixing them into the meat.
10 Mix Pureed Carrots into the Mac and Cheese
Pureed carrots make mac and cheese look cheesier and the kids will never know they are in there. To make the carrot puree, wash and chop the carrots. Boil them in water until they are soft. Drain and puree in a blender. For every 8 ounces of noodles, mix in 1/2 cup of pureed carrots. Follow your recipe’s instructions for adding the cheese sauce. You can also cook and puree carrots ahead of time and freeze the puree in 1/2 cup to 1 cup amounts. That way, whenever you make mac and cheese, you can remove the puree from the freezer, thaw, and mix it in with the noodles.
9 Hide Veggies Under Cheese Sauce
If it’s covered in cheese, he’ll eat it. If that sounds like your kid, then why not try serving chopped vegetables in a cheese sauce? You can buy cheese sauces at the grocery store, such as Alfredo sauce, or you can try making a healthier version at home. Take about 1 to 2 cups of well-cooked cauliflower and puree it with 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream cheese. If you want to give your cheese sauce a cheddar color, add some cooked carrot to the mix before you puree it. Add a dash of parmesan cheese and serve this healthy cheese sauce with green beans, broccoli, or even more cauliflower.
8 Use Whole Wheat Bread to Make French Toast
Won’t touch whole wheat bread? Not a problem when it’s disguised in a french toast recipe. To make, beat together one egg, 1/4 cup milk, and a 1/2 teaspoon each of vanilla extract and cinnamon in a shallow pie pan. Dip up to four slices of whole wheat bread in the mixture, coating both sides of the bread. Fry the bread on a nonstick or lightly oiled griddle set on medium heat until both sides of the bread are gently browned. Serve with maple or homemade fruit syrup.
7 Hide Vegetables in the Burgers and Meatballs
Finely chopped vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, cauliflower, and zucchini, can be easily hidden in hamburgers and meatball mixes. Simply add 1 part vegetables to 2 parts of lean ground beef or turkey. Mix in a bowl and shape into patties or meatballs. Cook as you normally do and serve. Under all the ketchup, sauce, or cheese, the kids won’t notice or taste the vegetables hidden in the meat.
6 Make Banana Pops
Satisfy a sweet tooth with these easy banana pops. You will need one large banana, 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, about 1/4 cup of granola, rice cereal, or chopped nuts, 2 wood popsicle sticks, and wax paper. Peel the banana and cut it in half. Insert a popsicle stick into the cut end of each banana half. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave on half power for ten seconds at a time until fully melted. Dip the bananas into the chocolate until coated and sprinkle them with cereal or nuts. Put them on the wax paper and freeze for at least 1 hour. Serve whenever the kids want chocolate or ice cream.
5 Chocolate Avocado Pudding
Put the boxed pudding mixes back on the shelf. A healthier, and just as yummy, version of pudding is made from four simple ingredients: avocado, cocoa, honey, and milk. Peel and pit one ripe, medium to large avocado. Put it in the blender with 2 tablespoons each of unsweetened cocoa powder and honey. Add 3 tablespoons of milk and puree until smooth. If you want, you can also add a 1/2 teaspoon of either vanilla extract or almond extract to the mix. Scrape the pudding into a bowl, cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve as is or top it off with chopped nuts, coconut, granola, or rice cereal.
4 Replace Noodles with Zucchini
Reduce everyone’s carbs and get the kids eating a pasta substitute that is actually good for them. Wash and trim both ends of a zucchini. To keep the kids from seeing green, peel the zucchini before making it into noodles. There are two easy ways to cut zucchini into noodles. For the first method, use a potato peeler and slice the zucchini from top to bottom, making long, thin noodles. To make spaghetti noodles, use a mandoline, fitted with a julienne blade. After you cut the noodles, set the zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and let it drain for about 30 minutes. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the zucchini noodles for one to two minutes. Drain and serve with spaghetti sauce or other toppings.
3 Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies
Gluten-free and loaded with protein, fiber, and other nutrients, these chocolate chip cookies are a guilt-free pleasure to make for the kids. For this easy recipe, you will need one 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed, 2 tablespoons milk, 1/4 cup each honey, 3 tablespoons of either peanut butter or almond butter, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Put the chickpeas and milk in a blender and puree. Scrape the batter into a bowl and mix in the remaining ingredients. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and drop dough by the spoonful onto cookie sheets. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool and serve.
2 Sweet Potato French Bread
Sweet potatoes can be made to taste as sweet as candy, and that is why they make the best french toast. For this healthy breakfast, you will need about a 1/4 cup of cooked sweet potato. Put the sweet potato, 4 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract into a blender and give it a quick blend. Pour the mixture into a shallow pie pan and coat both sides of up to eight slices of whole wheat bread with it. Fry the bread on a hot, nonstick or lightly oiled griddle, browning both sides. Serve with butter and syrup.
1 Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes
These delicious pancakes are gluten-free and very easy to make. You only need four ingredients: one large, ripe banana, two lightly beaten eggs, 1/8 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips. Peel the banana and mash it in a bowl with a fork until all the lumps are gone. Mix in the eggs and baking powder. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop one to two tablespoons of batter onto a nonstick or lightly greased pan set to medium heat and cook for about one minute or until the bottom is lightly browned. Carefully flip the pancake over and cook for another minute, until it is browned. Serve the pancakes hot with syrup or berry jam.