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Vegetable Recipes That Kids Love

Updated on August 1, 2013
Elyn MacInnis profile image

Elyn spent the last 30 years in China, coming home in the summer to cook American food and have fun doing craft projects with her family.

Vegetable recipes for kids who hate vegetables

This lens has a few recipes that I have found most kids like. I like them too, and I love vegetables! So whether you like veggies or not, you will certainly like these recipes.

Down below I have put some of my theories how to make the most kid-friendly vegetable dishes. So this page can help you with general principles, and also with a few recipes that I know kids like. I don't think I know any kid who doesn't like spaghetti. And so, we will begin with spaghetti sauce.

vegetarian spaghetti for kids
vegetarian spaghetti for kids

Everyone's favorite - Spaghetti!

When kids eat this, they are getting both zucchini and carrots!

Who doesn't like spaghetti? There is something so enticing about a big bowl of pasta with a gorgeous bright red sauce on top.

At the end of the summer when the tomatoes are red and ripe, the zucchini a deep green, and the carrots bursting with flavor, this sauce will really satisfy that longing for spaghetti with sauce. Kids love this recipe, and eat it with nary a complaint.

Part of what makes this recipe so popular is that it has all the beautiful flavor of vegetables without being obvious! What some kids hate about vegetables is not the flavor, but the texture of the big chunk of veggie in their mouth. This takes away that problem because the vegetables are all grated and mixed in the sauce. The other thing that some kids don't like is running into strong flavored vegetables like onion or garlic. This sauce avoids that problem by using just a sprinkle of garlic powder and no onions. If everyone else wants some onion flavor in it, make sure you grate the onions on the fine side of the grater. This way you can have the onion juice and flavor without having recognizable pieces of onion.

You can make this sauce is so fast it will make your head spin. I do use a small bottle of tomato sauce to mix in with the vegetables. I could make my own sauce, or begin with fresh tomatoes and boil it down, but part of the blessing of this dish is the speed with which it can be pulled together.


2 zucchini

1 carrot

Put a little oil in the frying pan, olive oil is good, or any other mild oil that your kids like. Add the grated zucchini and carrots and cook over a low flame until they have become limp. Add

1 small bottle of tomato sauce, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add

1-2 Tablespoons of honey

1 teaspoon dried basil, or a good handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped.

a sprinkle of thyme

a pinch of salt

a sprinkle of garlic powder

Let it simmer until the flavors have been distributed in the sauce.

grating vegetables for kids
grating vegetables for kids

It's in the grating...

Small pieces of vegetables go unnoticed...

Much of helping kids to eat vegetables happens when you grate or blend the vegetable pieces into something that is not recognizable! Have you noticed that kids who do not like most vegetables may accept fried rice with some veggies in it? That is because the pieces are so tiny, they do not stick out as a vegetable in particular. So "small is good."

Vegetables for kids

The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals
The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals
Sometimes you have to be really sneaky. Here are some great ideas.

Grating onions into juice...

Sneaky Mom

If you grate onions into juice, you can add a tiny bit of onion juice and get the flavor with no chance of your child finding a speck of onion. It is a good way to train kids to enjoy a flavor slowly without being too obvious. You can't add too much, but adding a tiny bit into spaghetti sauce will never be noticed, and soon the child will come to enjoy the flavor naturally without any strain. Try it. It works really well. And if you have some other vegetable that your child doesn't like, you can try this with that vegetable. Training the taste buds to accept a flavor can happen slowly. Just add a tiny bit the finely grated or juiced vegetable to something they love. Slowly, slowly, they will get used to it.

Love mashed potatoes?

You can get away with a lot if you just add the veggies in with the potatoes!

Everyone has their own ways of making mashed potatoes. Basically you just boil the potatoes for 20-25 minutes, and then pour the water off. Use a potato masher to squish them up, and then add butter and milk to make them smooth. The trick is that if you grate up vegetables and sauté them gently in some butter, you can add them in to the potatoes and get away with murder. If that doesn't work, then you can use a stick blender or regular blender to blend them into minuscule particles and add them in that way. Put some cheese on top and let it melt and you will get away with even more.

Veggies that add in well:

Carrots,squash, zucchini and parsnips can be blended in the blender and then added in to mashed potatoes.

Peas, and corn are often vegetables that kids like anyway and can be added whole if they are willing.

And if your kids prefer rice... the same theory applies.

blender stick
blender stick

Using a blender stick is so easy!

And washing it afterwards is even easier

I don't know what I would do without my blending stick. If I have a pot of squash pieces in boiling water, I can just put the blender stick into the pot and in under a minute it is squash soup. These appliances also come with other attachments that can be exchanged so easily you will be amazed. I have used several, a Phillips one in China where the electricity is 220 instead of 110. I have put two sticks that work in the US that have the best consumer ratings down below.

Making blending vegetables easy - The Almighty Blender Stick

I have been so happy since I bought a blender stick. It will take a pot of vegetables and turn them into puree in the flicker of an eye. And clean up is ecstatically easy.

You will find this appliance a godsend in your kitchen when cooking for kids who don't like vegetables. Here is another trick. Perhaps your child thinks they hate winter squash. It does have a unique flavor. If you boil the squash and then add in milk and some cream, some brown sugar, nutmeg, and a little salt, they may think it is a different vegetable. If you use a blender stick and puree the squash, it comes out tasting more like some kind of creamy drink.

Another Idea: Freeze the creamy soup in ice cube trays, and offer it as ice cream.

veggies for coconut sauce
veggies for coconut sauce

Coconut Vegetable casserole

Coconut heaven for kids

The Sauce. It is sublime. You can add spices if your children are willing and like it, you can leave it plain for is deep essential flavor. This sauce can be poured over anything, and it is much the better for it.

Coconut Heaven Sauce

Heat in a pan until it is boiling:

1 and 1/4 - 1/2 cups of coconut milk

1/2 cup evaporated milk

dash of black pepper

2 teaspoons butter

1/4 cup soup stock - there are Bouillion cubes in health food stores

that do not have MSG. Organic Gourmet is one I use.

You can also add some curry powder, a small amount of ginger powder,

garlic powder, or onion powder.

This sauce is the base of the dish. I always double this recipe and freeze it in smaller containers so I can use it for other dishes.

Tailor your vegetables to those that your kids like. Mine accepted almost any vegetable that was slathered in this delicious sauce. Potatoes add to the creamy texture, and then carrots, sweet peas, corn, green beans, tiny pieces of zucchini, yellow squash, and cherry tomatoes, which add wonderful color. They are all good. If your child is really resistant, start with only the vegetables he or she likes, Then once they are hooked on the sauce, try adding more.

We vary the amounts. It all depends on what you like. Here are some suggestions.

2 Carrots

Corn cut from 2 cobs, or one can, drained

A small box of cherry tomatoes

4-6 potatoes - Yukon Gold is nice - pre cooked

A good fistful of green beans cut into small pieces

1 zucchini and/or 1 yellow squash, but make sure the pieces are small. Some kids don't like the texture.

Half a bag of frozen sweet peas.

It is a quick and easy dish if you prepare the sauce ahead of time and pre-boil the vegetables that have a long cooking time. I pre-boil (until almost done but not quite) the potatoes, and then in the last five minutes throw in the carrots and green beans so that they are almost cooked when you add the other things.

Mix the sauce and vegetables together and let it cook at a very slow heat for 10-15 minutes to mix the flavors. This is a cozy autumn and winter dish.

Sauces can cover up vegetable flavors really well!

More Sneaky Mom

I have found that kids often really learn to love sauces, and then find that they can eat a lot more veggies if they are smothered in sauce. Keep this in mind if you have a sauce that you discover (for example, when you are eating out) they seem to enjoy. Peanut Satay Sauce is one, or a teriyaki sauce might be the thing that pleases their mouth most.

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Lighten up the recipe with apples for better flavor and texture

You should try this one at Thanksgiving or Harvest Festival time. Sweet potatoes are sweet, and so most kids like them. But sometimes they sit in the stomach like a lead balloon. I discovered that by adding half apples and half sweet potatoes the recipe got rave reviews from my children and their friends. It is very simple to make.

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

I live in China, and the sweet potatoes in Beijing are incredibly fragrant. They are much like the "Jewel" sweet potatoes you have in the US. Enjoy the fragrance of these beauties together with your favorite apple and you will be delighted with the results.

Peel and cut into bite sized pieces:

2-3 large sweet potatoes

2-3 large apples, I like Golden Delicious, but any good apple will do.

Put into a greased casserole dish, and add:

¼ cup apple juice

1 Tablespoon butter

(cinnamon, if you like it)

a generous pinch of salt

Cover and bake at 350F/ 180C for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes. OR if you don't have an oven handy, microwave at high, stirring every 10 minutes until done.

What vegetable does your child like best? - There has to be at least one!

I am curious to know what green vegetables are favorites of real kids. If you could please vote in the poll below, that would be helpful. If you remember all the way back to your own childhood, you could vote with your own old favorite too.

What green vegetable does your child like best?

See results

Using vegetables in a sweet way...

Oh desserts! How lovely they are!

I have put two dishes here that kids like that count as dessert. This is another great way to get your kids to eat vegetables. I guess it could be counted as cheating... but it is true that most kids will eat sweet things readily.

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

These happened by accident...

In China you can sometimes get zucchini and sometimes you can't. It is considered a "Western" vegetable, so it is a little exotic. One day I wanted to make zucchini muffins, but I discovered after I was already half done with the recipe that I only had one good zucchini, and the other one was a little fuzzy. What to do? I pulled out a CAN of blueberries (we can't get the real ones here) and added it in to the mix, and it was so good that it became a favorite, and it is a special favorite with the little ones.

Preheat oven to 400F/190C

Mix together:

½ cup raisins

1 cup grated zucchini

The blueberries from one small can of blueberries - save the juice; if it's too dry at the end, add a little to juice it up.

Mix the wet ingredients together:

2 eggs, beaten

3 Tablespoons. rice bran or grape seed oil, or any other mild oil that you like

¼ cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

Prepare the dry ingredients in a bowl.

1 ½ cups of flour

3 Tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup oatmeal/oats

2 Tablespoons wheat germ

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the wet and dry together, using as little beating as possible. Spoon into greased muffin tins or tins lined with muffin papers.

Bake at: 400F, 20 minutes

Makes 12 muffins

Saint Louis Pumpkin Pie, good with or without the crust

So delicious and full of nutrition

I discovered at some point that I could make pie with no crust by just greasing the pie pan well, In fact, most of the time I use an ordinary casserole pan. Everyone likes it just as much, and you don't have to cope with soggy pie crust. Talk about simple... this recipe has to cook for an hour in the oven, but making it hardly takes any time at all. The only picture of this pie I had in my computer was of one I made with a crust. It's not the same, but this pie is good with or without crust! And don't the pecans on top make it look beautiful?

Beat in a bowl with a mixer:

2 cups pumpkin (canned is JUST AS GOOD as fresh pumpkin)

1 cup milk

1 cup light cream (or just use milk and add a bit of heavy cream)

½ cup dark brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

1 and ½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 Tablespoon flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

(3/4 cup pecan halves to float on top)

Pour into a greased pie pan, or a into a pie crust shell, and if you like them, float ¾ cup pecans on the top. Cook at 450 F for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 325 F for 50 minutes.

To gild the lily, drizzle in warm honey and serve with barely sweetened whipped cream.

Looking for more information - can you tell me what veggies your child likes best? Is there any way you get them to eat more veggies? Good recipes? Would love to have your own experience with feeding your children vegetables...

What are your child's favorite vegetables?

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    Post Comment
    • Elyn MacInnis profile imageAUTHOR

      Elyn MacInnis 

      8 years ago from Shanghai, China

      @KyraB: Yes - spaghetti and zucchini are so good together, it is hard to say which is more important. They are both so yummy.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Sounds good, we have put zucchini in are spaghetti sauce before and also put spaghetti sauce on our zucchini before :) Great ideas!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      8 years ago from USA

      These look so good, especially the zucchini and carrots spaghetti recipe.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      8 years ago

      Love this lens. Really sneaky mom!


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