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How to Sneak Veggies into Your Kids' Daily Diet

Updated on March 22, 2013
Rich Saucy Dishes are Great Meals to Sneak in the Veggies
Rich Saucy Dishes are Great Meals to Sneak in the Veggies | Source

Getting kids to eat vegetables on a daily basis can be challenging, at best, but downright wearisome at worst. We bribe; we plead; we pray; we get upset; and we occasionally pull our hair out, all because we want to see our children put nutritious foods into their rapidly developing bodies.

Well, there is an easier way. In fact, you can leave the begging, bribing and bickering at the door because once you secretly add vegetables to their favorite meals they won’t have a clue on what hit their tummies.

Veggies
Veggies | Source

Choosing Your Veggies

Veggies are packed with so many great nutrients that it’s a must for helping our children sustain a healthy lifestyle. A vegetable-rich diet will aid in your child’s development by building a stronger immune system; increasing their ability to concentrate; and laying a foundation for a healthier, happier life. And, while there are endless options when choosing the right vegetables (peas, broccoli, yams, squash, bell peppers, etc,) to stealthily reinforce a tasty meal, I usually stick to the basics.

My favorite sneak-in vegetable is a carrot-spinach blend. Spinach is an excellent source of iron, plus it’s loaded with A and B vitamins, as well as protein and fiber, just to name a few. Carrots, on the other hand, are sweet, plus it’s high in beta-carotene and potassium, and it’s great for digestion. Both boast nutrient-dense vitamins and minerals, plus the bland mixed with sweet taste bode well with rich sauces and meats.

Veggie Mix, after Thoroughly Blended
Veggie Mix, after Thoroughly Blended | Source

Prepping Your Veggies

You can create this spinach-carrot concoction by first steaming, baking or boiling the carrots until soft and then mixing that with fresh spinach (steamed or boiled) until soft. Word of note, most vegetables will yield a smoother puree if fully cooked before being mashed, blended or processed, so make sure the texture of the vegetables is what you’re going for, before mixing. I’m more inclined to use a food processor, but you should choose your preference.

After the veggies are soft, mix them in a food processor, or blender until smooth. That’s all it takes to make your veggie mix, and you can use this for any food you think will work. Be sure to take the shade of your mix into account when choosing the foods you will combine it with. You don’t want the color to give away your secret.

You can keep this veggie blend in your refrigerator for two days, or in your freezer for up to one month. When freezing the puree, spoon the mix into ice cube trays and cover with plastic wrap; then place in the freezer. When the cubes are frozen, put them in a food storage container, and label it by food-type and date.

5 Kid-Friendly Food Options

So, now that you know how to prepare your veggie mix, let’s slip your handiwork into some of your kids’ favorite meals.

Yummy Sloppy Joes with Mom's Special Blend
Yummy Sloppy Joes with Mom's Special Blend | Source

1. Sloppy Joes

This is a messy food that children have a blast indulging in. And, what kid doesn’t like anything that comes with a bun? Just beef up the Joes by adding a touch of your veggie creation. With the red, saucy meat and veggie combo, plus hamburger bun this is probably the easiest food to slip in the extra nourishment.

Nachos with Nutritious Veggies
Nachos with Nutritious Veggies | Source

2. Tacos/Nachos

Any variation of a taco dish will work. Add your special concoction to the meat mixture and your kids won’t know the difference. They’ll never detect that those delicious nachos are packed full of vitamins and minerals. Once their mouths chomp down into that fun, fiesta-meal all they’ll be saying is, “gracias mommy.”

Delicious and Nutritious Pizza
Delicious and Nutritious Pizza | Source

3. Pizza

This is most kid’s all-time favorite meal. And, if you’re making your own homemade pizza then what better place to include your secret recipe than in the sauce? Once it’s covered in cheese your angels won’t even realize their meal is loaded with nutrients that will improve their digestion and build their immune system.

Beans is a Great Dish to Slip in Pureed Veggies
Beans is a Great Dish to Slip in Pureed Veggies | Source

4. Beans Dishes

Because there is so much sauce to chili and other bean dishes it is very easy to spoon in your work of art. Once you add your unique veggie innovation to the meat, rice, or whatever else you put into this meal then your little darlings will be grateful to you for giving them such a yummy bowl of deliciousness, filled with healthy enhancements.

Pasta with Mom's Secret Mix
Pasta with Mom's Secret Mix | Source

5. Pastas

Pasta is the perfect meal to work in your vegetables, whether it’s spaghetti, lasagna, or any other al dente dish. You can also add the mix to mac and cheese. For the lovers of this cheesy delight, adding your mixture will not turn off their taste buds. The key here is to make sure you add just enough to alter the color slightly while still keeping the traditional look.

These kid-favorite foods are just a few of the many ways to be covert in your quest to put vegetables into your kid’s diet. And, while it should be stated that sneaking this veggie mix into your child’s food is no substitute for having them eat vegetables on their own, when it comes to ensuring they get all of their daily nutrients, sometimes a mom’s gotta do, what a mom’s gotta do.

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    • Kelsey Farrell profile image

      Kelsey Elise Farrell 

      3 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Great suggestions. I always use cauliflower because it's so easy to disguise. From pizza crust, mashed potatoes, and even in macaroni n'cheese it's taste is easy to hide. Also, spinach in smoothies (even though it turns it a bright shade of green), because it has such a mild taste.

    • profile image

      Kaden 

      3 years ago

      You're a real deep thirekn. Thanks for sharing.

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Kikalina, you should try it. You'd be surprised at how many dishes it will go seemlessly in.

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 

      5 years ago from Europe

      I never hid spinach but maybe it's a good time to start :)

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thanks for you well-thought-out comments Au fait. Great advice. We do a similar trick with pining over foods we want our kids to try. Our little one will try almost anything, but unfortunately the older one is more resistant to the idea. The younger one is more like me and the older one like his dad. LOL. And, good note about the Fast Food. Thankfully, we've never made the Fast Foods apart of our diets. Thank you for your advice.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      You have some very good ways of getting more nutrition into your children's diets and I see nothing wrong in padding more nutrition into these foods that most kids love.

      I do think however, that setting a good example by eating veggies prepared in a 'normal' way for your children to see how much you love them and asking them to taste should be part of the routine too.

      Our tastes change and how a food is prepared can make a world of difference. So try different ways of preparing veggies and make sure your children see how much you're loving your veggies.

      It might not hurt to make just enough of a particular veggie for one serving for YOU, or just enough for you and your husband and those family members you know do like it. Let them watch you eat it, make sure to ooh and ahh while ignoring them completely, and don't even suggest they have a taste. If they ask for some be sure to tell them you didn't make enough for them because you knew they wouldn't like it. Tell them, maybe next time . . . kids often want what they're parents have or want to do what they're parents are doing, and making out they probably aren't old enough for certain things may be the thing that will get them to try things. Not saying outright, but strongly suggesting you're keeping certain things to yourself just because you love them so much, will also sometimes get kids to wanting them more -- because they can't/don't have them. Kids almost always want what you tell them they can't have.

      Limiting fast foods, and convenience foods in children's diets will also help them like foods that are prepared with less sugar, salt, and fat, much better. Once people acquire the taste for tons of salt and sugar, etc., it's hard to change their minds.

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Vespawoolf, I do that too! My hubby needs more veggies, but I think I'm going to start trying this trick more in his meals. Thank you for your vote of approval.

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Vespawoolf, I do that too! My hubby needs more veggies, but I think I'm going to start trying it more. Thank you for your vote of approval.

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Vespawoolf, I do that too! My hubby needs more veggies, but I think I'm going to start trying it more. Thank you for your vote of approval.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 

      5 years ago from Peru, South America

      Sometimes it's also a trick to sneak veggies into my hubby's diet! Making a puree, freezing it and introducing it into favorite foods is a great idea. Voted up!

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thanks for reading joym7. I hope you got some ideas!

    • joym7 profile image

      Joy 

      5 years ago from United States

      interesting...nice writing

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi Peggy, yes covert they are. Thank you for your comments and the thumbs up!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Haha! I love your covert activities with regard to sneaking in more good nutrition into your "darlings" lives. As you stated..." sometimes a mom’s gotta do, what a mom’s gotta do. " You are one clever mom! Veggies are so nutritious. Am sure that your kids will eventually love eating at least some of them without them being disguised. Up and useful votes.

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi CharronsChatter, thank you very much for your words. Yes, when it comes to veggies and my kids I am no-nonsense!

    • CharronsChatter profile image

      Karen Robiscoe 

      5 years ago from California

      As clever as you wanna be...and then some. My aunt's hat is off to you, Career Mommy. I like how you are no nonsense and just go right to the source. Why wheedle, when you can direct? Super advice and clever hiding places--so to speak. :)

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi ExpectGreatThings. Thank you for your comments. My next hub is going to be how to sneak veggies into your husband's meal. My hubby is not much of a veggie-eater either.

    • ExpectGreatThings profile image

      ExpectGreatThings 

      5 years ago from Illinois

      This is brilliant! I can't wait to try this out. I hope it works on my husband, too, since he is not much of a veggie-eater either. Great hub!

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you KoffeeKlatch Gals, love your name, BTW. Tacos are always a favorite meal around our house too!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Wonderful suggestions. My girls used to love the tacos. Up and useful.

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi vibesites, thank you for your comments. I agree with you that creativity is key here. And, I also agree that mixing in veggies with cheese is the perfect "ploy" for getting in the vegetables. Thanks for reading!

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 

      5 years ago from United States

      Yes, it only takes creativity to make veggies tasty. Covering them up with a lot of cheese is a perfect "ploy" to get kids eating vegetables. I haven't known any kid who doesn't like cheese. Though I don't have a kid myself, I have nieces, so I still take your suggestions, thanks. Up, useful. :)

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Ha ha. Thank you naturalife. I think this does make life easier. No fuss, do fight, no bribes! Thank you for sharing this with your mother.

    • naturalife profile image

      O William 

      5 years ago

      I like your creativity. I am printing this for my mother to make life easier for her and my siblings.

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you for reading Kathryn. And, I also add the mix to my own dishes as well as my husbands! (-:

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 

      5 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      That is clever! Pureed veggies would be fairly well-hidden in many sauces. I will keep that in mind for the future. Thanks or sharing this with us!

    • Careermommy profile imageAUTHOR

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      stephanieb27, thanks for stopping by my hub. Yep, nachos is a good one. We're actually having tacos tonight, with a touch of mom's secret blend (-;

      Mommymay, thanks for the dips idea. I think my kids would love that too, and hummus is very healthy.

      billybuc, I think my parents could have used this advice as well! Things would have gone a lot smoother, that's for sure. Thanks for the read!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Way too funny! My parents could have used this advice when I was a kid. They worked hard to get me to eat veggies and in the end only threats worked. :) Great suggestions my friend.

    • Mommymay profile image

      Heather May 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Great tips careermommy!!! I have been working veggies in as much as possible! I have primarily been using dips (bean dip, hummus, etc) and giving carrots to dip. After reading this, I am trying to figure out what I can sneak into tacos. Voted up!

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 

      5 years ago from United States

      Lots of great suggestions on a night that I am wondering, "What should we eat for dinner?" I think I will make the nachos tonight since I have the ingredients on hand. :) I need to remember to add veggies more, we eat a lot of fruit around here.

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