Even the idea of sneaking a veggie or fruit in your child's meal feels so dishonest, as if you're trying to trick them into eating healthy food. Sure, there are those who kids are downright stubborn: "Veggies? ICK!" But some children have true food aversions, where from a sensory perspective, they can't fathom putting certain foods into their mouth because of a texture or smell.
So let's put the "sneaking" bit aside and look at this from a different perspective: How can you prepare fruits and veggies in a way that your kids will enjoy them?
Here are five favorites where you can mix in a fruits or vegetable in a way that it blends into an overall dish, versus serving a stand-alone item:
- Smoothies. Some kids are hesitant to eat certain fruits, but when you blend them all up with a little coconut milk or orange juice and serve a smoothie in a tall glass with a straw? They're asking for more. You can blend strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, nectarine or peach slices with different juices or yogurts to create some delicious combos. Give them fancy names your kids help create, a la Jamba Juice.
- Burritos. I recently made Vegetarian Burritos from the family-cooking site, One Family One Meal. This simple recipe opened my eyes to many possibilities of including a variety of veggies into a meal. The recipe includes baby spinach and chopped mushrooms. The spinach wilts as it cooks and if you finely dice the mushrooms, they're hard to tell apart from the rice, beans and cheese mix. Why not try adding cooked butternut squash or zucchini? Corn? Finely-diced carrots? Try garnishing the burritos with a sweet mango salsa. Yum. Serve them wrapped in aluminum foil like it's a to-go dish. You're kids will get a kick out of it.
- Egg scrambles. Like burritos, egg scrambles are an easy way to incorporate veggies into a dish. Bell peppers, onions (red or sweet), mushrooms...you name it. If your kids don't like eating large pieces of these veggies, go with the fine dice and then gradually make the pieces larger as they get used to the taste.
- Lasagna. Layer lasagna with eggplant, yellow squash and/or chopped broccoli or cauliflower. Add one veggie at a time or include them all. Gooey goodness.
- Bake. Kids love all things baked. Cut back on the sugar and add some grated veggies or chopped fruits to the mix. When you make blueberry muffins, substitute 1/3 cup applesauce for each egg. Make zucchini cookies.
Other ideas? Make fruit kabobs. Dish up yogurt parfaits with fruit toppings. Try Squash Blossom Quesadillas. (And if you still have a reluctant eater, I have more tips for you here.)
What are some of your favorite ways to dish up fruits and veggies so your kids won't make a fuss at the table?
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