Picky eater on your hands? We understand! Sometimes we need to choose our battles and just slip some extra nutrition into our kids (or spouses!) meals on the sly. Here are 9 simple ways to sneak some fruits and veggies – and even a little fun – into your meals…
- Very smooth! Use a blender or food processor to whip carrots, spinach, zucchini and more into an unrecognizable form and mix it into pasta sauce, pizza sauce or soup. Canned pumpkin puree is another good alternative to add to sauces. Peanut butter is another easy one to slip some pureed goodness into without anyone noticing! Matching your colors and flavors is important if you don’t want to be found out – try pureeing white beans to add thickness and nutrients to creamy soups and sauces; slip mashed cauliflower into your potatoes; and pureed butternut squash blends nicely into mac and cheese!
- Freeze it. It’s a known fact that kids can’t resist popsicles. Blending yogurt and fruit creates a delicious smoothie – and if you stick it in the freezer (a popsicle stick in an ice cube tray or small paper cup works well), voila – smoothie popsicles! Get daring and add some finely chopped spinach in there – dark berries like blueberries will help mask the green!
- Play with your food. Use cookie cutters to make fruits and veggies into fun shapes or create silly faces or cool shapes and designs with cut veggies to mix it up and get kids to try new things.
- Sweeten the deal. While your child might snub a pile of zucchini on their dinner plate, zucchini bread is a different story. Cut down on the fat and sneak in more good stuff by replacing half of the oil with apple sauce! Great trick for muffins too!
- Dip in! Peanut or soy nut butter, yogurt, low-fat cheese and more all make tasty and healthy dips for fruits and veggies.
- Get involved! Invite your kids to help in the kitchen and in the garden. You might just peek their interest enough to get them to try a new food!
- Shred it. Meatballs, hamburgers and other ground meat provide the perfect hiding spot for shredded carrots, finely chopped broccoli, mushrooms and more. Works great in sloppy joes and meatloaf too!
- Pull a switcheroo. So they might notice this one, but it’s worth a shot – try swapping spaghetti squash for your regular noodles. Preparing spaghetti squash is easier than you think – pierce the skin and microwave it for 5-10 minutes until soft (or bake it in the oven at 350 for 30-45 minutes). Let it cool for a few minutes then cut it length-wise into 2 and remove the seeds. Separate strands by running a fork through them. Saute the “noodles” with your favorite seasonings in a skillet with non-stick spray and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat, stirring constantly until squash is tender and moisture cooks out of the noodles. Then simply top with your favorite pasta sauce!
- Hidden layer. A layer of chopped spinach in your lasagna might just go unnoticed. Shredded zucchini, squash or chopped broccoli or mushrooms hide well in casseroles, tucked inside stuffed shells and more! Grilled cheese sandwiches are also excellent for hiding thin layers of finely chopped veggies!
We wish you luck in the epic battle of kids versus dinnertime. Have some ideas of your own to share? Leave a comment!