5 Tricks to Sneak Vegetables into Toddler’s Diets by Renee Leonard
Toddler mealtime wars…They’re not too much fun are they? It’s easy to fallback on the handful of sure wins despite your best intentions to widen your little one’s food repertoire! Research shows that it can take as many as 10 to 15 tastes before a child will learn to appreciate a new flavour or food. It would be a dream to win your kids over to the taste of vegetables straight up, but you’ve got to deal with the reality that most kids just don’t fancy them. The solution? Create a culinary illusion! Engage in a little fancy food magic, hiding veggies in the foods kids love. Here are a few tricks to help you work your nutritional wizardry on your kid’s meals…
Sneaky Veggie Trick No. 1: Mushroom Mince
When making mince dishes, reduce the amount of ground beef and add some finely chopped mushrooms to the mix. The meaty texture of mushrooms is similar to the ground beef, and they absorb the rich flavours of the sauce. Mushrooms are high in energy-producing B vitamins.
Sneaky Veggie Trick No.2: Camouflage the Cauliflower
Steam and puree cauliflower and then mix it into mashed potatoes (an undeniable kid’s favourite!) in a 1-1 ratio. It blends into the potato perfectly, so the little ones will be none the wiser. Cauliflower is an excellent source of potassium, fiber and vitamins C and K.
Sneaky Veggie Trick No. 3: Make a Mean (Not So Green) Meatball
A handful of pureed raw baby spinach can do a phenomenal Houdini disappearing act when cooked into burgers, meatloaf and meatballs. Just remember to top with a vibrant red sauce to hide any evidence! Rich in vitamins A, C, E, K and B; iron; potassium; calcium; and fiber – spinach supports bone and tooth health.
Sneaky Veggie Trick No. 4: Stuff the Muffins
Orange 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 to bring out the natural sweetness of these vegetables.
Sneaky Veggie trick No. 5: Sneak Sustainably
You’re culinary finesse will be somewhat limited if you’re forever having to ‘sneak’ vegetables into your family meals. Try serving one “visible” vegetable every night so that the kids can get used to seeing and, eventually, it is hoped, eating them in their whole state. It’s important for them to see you enjoying vegetables as well, if you want to continue to teach your child that vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet!
Live well, live long, live naturally
Renée Leonard-Stainton is a Naturopath, Nutritionist and Mama to two healthy young boys. With extensive experience in both the health and media industries, Renée contributes to a variety of magazines and celebrity websites. She’s a regular on New-Zealand radio + TV, endorsing wellbeing products and featuring as a natural health expert.