The Ultimate Guide to Sneaking Veggies Into Kids’ Meals

The Ultimate Guide to Sneaking Veggies Into Kids’ Meals

We’ve rounded up more than 25 ideas for hiding veggies in your kids’ meals.


By Lorraine Allen

Many schools teach kids about nutrition and food groups. And when my daughter brought home her handmade food pyramid from science class the other day, I was reminded once more how we need to eat even more veggies than we already do. We’re pretty good about it. We snack on carrots and raw fennel and cucumber and seaweed instead of potato chips or cookies -- at least half the time. And we all love salad, when I take the time to make one. But it seems like hardly a day goes by without some headline supporting the consumption of less sugar and salt and grease and more veggies. So, here to help us all fill our families’ bellies in the best possible way is a list of delicious, easy, and sneaky ways to get your kids to eat more veggies, any day.

1. Chop veggies into rounds or matchsticks and toss them into soup. A food processor is a lifesaver for this. A favorite trick of mine is to add chopped, hearty leafy greens -- like spinach, chard, kale or beet greens – into soups, because they cook down into almost tasteless, unassuming little leaves in minutes, and, if there are noodles and dumplings and other yummy things in that bowl, trust me, your kids won’t notice them.

2. Puree your soups -- hidden veggies and all! If your kid is the sort to pick through her food (like mine sometimes does) and indeed notice and pull out even the smallest thing she doesn’t like the look of, like a spinach leaf, then try this, and your problem will be solved. What’s more, suddenly, GREEN soup or PURPLE soup becomes a novelty and something cool to eat.

Consider these veggie-loaded, amazing ideas for blended soups that are so hearty, they make a complete meal if served simply with a side of fresh whole grain bread: potato, leek, and kale soup, green pea (use a bag of frozen ones) soup with mint or chives, purple potato soup with celery root, blood-red beet soup with shallots, bright orange carrot soup with ginger, yellow butternut squash soup with pumpkin seeds, purple cauliflower soup with shredded sharp cheese to garnish, bright red tomato soup, and green asparagus and spinach soup. (I use chicken stock as the base for all of these, but you can use veggie stock or even water.)

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3. Sneak more veggies into stews. Winter is great time to throw something -- anything really, like a ham, lamb shanks, beef brisket, a pork shoulder, etc. -- in a slow cooker to simmer for hours to tender perfection. Next time you plan to do this, just cut back the amount of meat you put in by a third or even a half, and peel and chop a whole load of varied fresh root veggies instead (and hearty greens, if you wish, too, stems and all). Add them into the pot for the last 20-25 minutes of simmering. Carrots, turnips, parsnips, celery, pumpkin, squash, and even beans and lentils (which should be added earlier, if they are dry) are all great additions to any stew and will sort of melt together with the tender meat on a plate. They’ll hardly be noticed, even though they will enhance the flavor and nutritional value.

4. Make dips or spreads with your veggies. Great for snacks, picnics, parties or even school lunches, dips can also be served with extra veggies -- like celery, fennel, peppers, cucumber or carrots – on the side. Some ideas to get you started: spinach and yogurt dip, cucumber and yogurt dip, fresh herb and garlic dip, spicy spinach or tomato dips, roasted pepper spread, roasted eggplant spread, avocado spread with lime and herbs, pureed lentil spread or dip, refried bean spread or dip, artichoke heart spread or dip, cream cheese and veggie spread or dip.

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Do you have any tips for sneaking loads of veggies into your kids’ bellies?


Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 6-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

Image ©iStock.com/letty17


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dawnarey

dawnarey

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I add 1cup pureed steamed veggies to our meatloaf and spaghetti sauces, And when I make freezer pops and smoothies I add 1/2 cup of pureed veggies that are the same color as the main fruit in them

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