Undercover Veg: 5 ways to get fussy kids eating vegetables
Rare is the parent that is lucky enough to have a kid that loves all vegetables. Most of us have fussy kids that either dislike all veggies or many of them. So how do we get vegetables into our little ones (and big ones for that matter)? Rachel Brady, family food blogger and mum of two fusspots herself, has some ideas about hiding vegetables in ways that they won’t even notice.
Ideally, we will get to a point with our kids where they willingly munch on veg in its naked form. Of course, that’s the ideal. But with peer pressure, developing taste buds, time-pressures and a million factors to battle against, I find that hiding veg in tasty dishes works best for now!
Try these ideas out on your fussy eaters and see how you get on.
1. Use small diced veg as a base for a tomato sauce. Batch cook a huge vat of this sauce and freeze, then use it in a wide range of dishes.
Dice (as small as you can) 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 courgettes, 2 sticks of celery, a handful of mushrooms. Along with 5 crushed cloves of garlic, sweat veg down in 4 tablespoons of olive oil for a good 20 minutes. Add 4 tins of chopped tinned tomatoes and cook in the oven on 150C for 2 hours. Season generously. If you are worried about them spotting the veggies, blitz the sauce totally smooth. Freeze in portions and use as a base for chilli con carne, spag bol, lasagna, in shepherd’s pie, in a tuna pasta bake, as a pizza base, with meatballs and spaghetti - or simply on its own over pasta.
2. Grate veg into pancakes.
Carrot, courgette, sweetcorn and peas all make great fritters. Why not experiment and combine several and add herbs or cheese to make a tasty and quick meal? Here’s how: add chosen veg (try a tin of drained sweetcorn plus 3 grated courgettes) to 3 beaten eggs, 4 heaped tablespoons of flour. Add seasoning, mix well, then fry in a hot pan in a little oil. Flip once and serve immediately.
3. Use veggies in your baking.
Next time you make banana bread, add grated carrots, or try mixing grated courgettes into apple muffins.
4. Sneak greens into pesto!
Why not sneak in a large handful of spinach or kale into a classic homemade pesto? Batch make a load and freeze into ice cube tray portions then chuck over hot wholemeal pasta (frozen is fine!) with a slug of pasta cooking water when you need it.
To make a double batch: blitz 2 cloves of garlic with 200g grated Parmesan, a large handful of basil plus a large handful of greens, plus 200g pine nuts. Add as much extra virgin olive oil as you think (quite a lot) until you get the right consistency. Season to taste and add a small squeeze of lemon if you like. Add to an ice cube tray and use what you need straight from the freezer.
5. Make a veg-heavy soup.
Of course, a smooth soup is a wonderful way to hide veggies – cauliflower, broccoli and cheese soup is often a hit with kids. Or try roasting Mediterranean vegetables like peppers, onions, courgettes with a whole garlic bulb (it mellows when roasted), then blitz with passatta to make an instant roast veg and tomato soup?
Do your fussy eaters always turn their nose up at vegetables, or have you found your own secret ways to pack them into every meal? Leave us a comment below, or come and let us know on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!