If you’re struggling with how to get your child to eat fruits and vegetables, try one of these creative ways.
In a perfect world, we’d all devour fruits and vegetables every day as if they were candy. Unfortunately, not all of us love scarfing down heaping plates of steamed broccoli or chowing on crunchy carrots. Our kids often aren’t big fans of eating their veggies, and it can feel a little disheartening when one of our biggest goals is to teach them healthy eating habits. If you’re struggling with how to get your kids to eat fruits and vegetables, try using these creative ways to tuck them into your cooking.
Veggie noodles are a welcome swap for grain-based pastas. You’ll need a tool called a spiralizer, which uses special blades to slice vegetables into thin, noodle-like ribbons. You can use just about any firm piece of produce with the spiralizer, whether that’s squash, zucchini, carrots or sweet potato. If you don’t have a spiralizer, try spaghetti squash that naturally shreds. Then, sauté the noodles with your child’s favorite pasta sauces. For a novel dessert, run an apple through your spiralizer. Sprinkle it with lemon juice, cinnamon and a little sugar to make a unique sweet treat.
Smoothies don’t exactly hide fruits and veggies, but they highlight the foods’ irresistible sweetness and beautiful colors. Blend up one of these combos to give your child an energy boost and a delicious way to get close to his or her recommended daily allowance of fresh produce:
• Frozen blueberries, banana, coconut milk, spinach
• Frozen peaches, banana, almond milk, kale, lemon
• Cucumber, apple, pear, celery, ice
• Broccoli, watermelon, pineapple, frozen strawberries
For some extra fun with these tasty fruits and vegetables for kids, add your child’s favorite smoothie recipe to popsicle molds to create a healthy warm-weather treat.
As far as hidden vegetable recipes go, this is one of the sneakiest — and tastiest! Create bean brownies that taste just as good as the traditional dessert by adding a can of rinsed black beans in place of the flour. The result? A super-moist, fudgy brownie that’s packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants and potassium.
If your youngster is a fan of cakes and cookies, you’re in luck. Zucchini bread is a classic that makes a great stand-in for cakes, but you can also blend butternut squash or beets into your cakes and breads for fun color, fiber and vitamin C. For the icing? Blend avocado with a little cream cheese, vanilla and agave nectar.
Modified mac ‘n cheese
This creamy comfort food gets a kick with the addition of sweet potatoes or cauliflower. To prep, simply steam or boil them (if boiling, peel the sweet potatoes) and run them through your food processor until they’re pureed. Then, stir the blended veggies into the mac ‘n cheese sauce before adding the noodles. To really highlight the veggie flavor, cook the noodles in the water that you used to boil the sweet potato or cauliflower.
Veggies don’t always have to hide away. Turn them into mealtime stars by adding them to your child’s favorite dishes. Create a veggie lasagna brimming with spinach, roasted peppers, shredded squash and fresh crushed tomatoes. Adorn a pizza with zucchini slices, mushrooms, small pieces of artichoke or even diced asparagus. For extra fun, let your child decorate the pizza with an imaginative veggie design.
If you have a little grilled cheese lover at home, tuck some sliced cucumber and red bell pepper strips inside the filling for bright color. Surprisingly, grilled cheese made with sharp cheddar also tastes great with grape slices inside. This basic sandwich makes a great foundation for just about any ingredient, so have fun experimenting with your little chef.
Are you ready to get cooking? Let us know what recipes your kids love the most. And as always, if you have any questions about changing your diet, reach out to a healthcare professional. If you need a caregiver, visit mercy.com.