How to Sneak Veggies into Your Kids' Daily Diet
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.