Some kids love vegetables, some kids hate them. Getting five-a-day into your little ones can sometimes feel like really hard work, but generations of parents before you have fought the good fight and there are plenty of recipes around to help you sneak more vegetables into your children’s food without being too overt. Here are a few favourites that you can utilise to put some extra nutrients into dinner time.
Sweet potato spaghetti
Spaghetti and meatballs is a children’s-menu staple, but while the tomato sauce can be used to hide peppers and mushrooms, they often end up getting picked out. Step in, the spiralizer! Some supermarkets stock things like courgetti or carotti – faux-spaghetti made with courgettes or carrots, but for something you’re less likely to be pulled up on by fussy eaters, try making your ‘spaghetti’ noodles with sweet potato instead.
Speaking of mushrooms…
Meaty sauces like bolognese and even dishes like home-made burgers are easy places to hide mushrooms, provided you chop them finely enough that they blend into the fray. Pick chestnut or portobello mushrooms for that meaty texture and flavour-absorbing quality you need. For extra levels of stealth you could even whizz them through a blender before mixing in with your chosen dish. Kidspot do a great burger recipe for hidden vegetables that also sneaks in courgette and carrot, while still looking suitably veg-free to the unsuspecting eye.
Pumpkin on a pizza?
For kids who won’t even accept vegetables on the cheesy treat-food that is pizza, hide them in the tomato sauce. Pureed pumpkin or butternut squash will add fiber and beta carotene to your pizza, but have mild enough flavours and appropriately creamy textures to not be picked up on by the anti-veg brigade. Use around a 2:1 ratio of puree to pizza sauce, and if you’re feeling particularly brave you could even blend in some roasted peppers too. Throw on a pre-made base like these from Napolina (because no parent ever had the time to go DIY on the sauce AND the base) and you’ll have dinner ready in no time at all.
Super-charged baked beans
Sausages, baked beans and a dollop of fluffy mashed potato may not seem like a dish where there’s much room to hide, but think again. Of course you could swap out the sausages for veggie versions – an instant healthier alternative – but for picky eaters this in itself could set off alarm bells. That’s where super-charged beans come in.
Regular baked beans are already part of your five-a-day, but you’ll get more for your efforts by blending chopped tomatoes, garlic and onion, before cooking up some haricot beans in your home-made sauce. A spoonful of brown sugar will keep this tasting familiar, and you can serve up with McCain Mashed Potatoes to save having to keep an eye on too many pots at once.
What are your top tips for sneaking extra veggies in at dinner time?
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post