Children of all ages (and some adults, too) can be finicky about food.
Ensuring a healthy variety of vegetables in the diet can be difficult. If this is your challenge, you’ll find some strategies in this article for getting vegetables into your picky eater. Here are some ideas to consider for making vegetables more palatable:
- You can hide almost any cooked vegetable in tomato/spaghetti sauce. If you’re pressed for time, buy pre-made sauces that include multiple vegetables like Catelli’s Garden Select line of sauces.
- A number of companies make fruit juices that also contain vegetable juices: V8, Bolthouse, Arthurs.
- It’s easy to “hide” mashed sweet potato and grated carrot or zucchini in sandwich fillings like egg salad or tuna salad.
- Vegetables can easily be added to meat loaf – try sweet potato, zucchini, carrot, or cabbage. The key is to mash or grate the vegetable finely so it doesn’t make an obvious change to the texture of the meatloaf. None of these vegetables will alter the flavour significantly. Serve the meatloaf with tomato sauce instead of ketchup for added nutrition.
- Kids will often eat vegetables in a soup that they won’t eat when served as a side dish. As a time saver, fold left-over or frozen vegetables into a pre-prepared soup. If you’re buying canned soups, look for ones that are lower in sodium.
- It’s easy to serve fruits and vegetables in baked goods. Substitute apple sauce for up to 1/3 the amount of oil called for in muffin or cake recipes. Chocolate zucchini cake and carrot cake are favourites in many families.
- Sometimes renaming a dish makes a difference. For example, kids who won’t go near Vegetarian Chilli will try Spicy Mexican Casserole, particularly if they don’t know what the ingredients are.
For more on these and other ideas, check out the following resources:
Stealth Health by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD
Michael Smith’s Hidden Vegetable Tomato Sauce
Mary Ann Gratton’s What’s for dinner? I’ll never tell
Dr. Briffa: ‘Stealth vegetables’ and other tactics for getting healthy food into our kids
Diane’s Kitchen: Semi-Stealth Veggies
Parenting tips: how to sneak vegetables into your child’s diet
Sneaky Vegetables: Learn how to sneak healthy foods into your family’s meals
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