Green can be a scary color for kids when it lands on their plates. But your little ones still need to eat three to four servings of veggies and two to three servings of fruit a day to stay healthy, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“It would be nice to win your kids over to the taste of vegetables straight up, but you’ve got to deal with the reality that most kids don’t like them, says registered dietician Felicia Stoler, author of Living Skinny in Fat Genes: The Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great and host of TLC’s show “Honey We’re Killing the Kids!”
The solution? Hide fruits and veggies in the foods kids love. Here’s how:
Sneaky Veggie Trick No. 1: Camouflage the cauliflower.
Cauliflower is an excellent source of potassium, fiber, and vitamins C and K. Steam and puree it, and then mix it into mashed potatoes in a 1-1 ratio. “It picks up the color of anything you cook it with,” says Stoler, so your kids will never know it’s in there.
Sneaky Veggie Trick No. 2: Make a mean, green meatball.
A handful of pureed raw baby spinach — rich in vitamins A, C, E, K and B; iron; potassium; calcium; and fiber — does a disappearing act when pureed and cooked into burgers, meatloaf, meatballs or sloppy joes. Top with ketchup or sauce to hide any evidence. Spinach supports bone and tooth health, as well as total eye health (not just vision).
Sneaky Veggie Trick No. 3: Stuff the muffins.
Orange fruits and veggies such as pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potato and carrot make for moist, delicious, kid-friendly muffins. Depending on the veggie, you’ll get a host of vitamins, plus potassium, fiber and antioxidants. Add cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg for a sweet Cinnabon-like flavor.
Sneaky Veggie Trick No. 4: Fry up a different fritter.
Kids can’t resist crispy potato pancakes — even when an entire zucchini is grated in with the potato. Top with applesauce for a hit of sweet fruit. Between the potato and the zucchini, these fritters contain healthy servings of vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins and antioxidants.
Sneaky Veggie Trick No. 5: Doctor your spaghetti sauce.
Grate or puree a mix of cooked eggplant, sweet peppers and yellow squash and add to jarred spaghetti sauce. Together, these healthy fruits (yes, fruits!) provide a potent blend of antioxidants, fiber, B vitamins, and vitamins A and C. Add to pizza or pasta and top with shredded cheese.
One day, your kids will probably surprise you and ask for the peas and carrots. But in the meantime, sneaking veggies into their food (as you pile some whole veggies on their plates!) gives them the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need. And you won’t have to hear “Yuck!”