How to "Sneak" in Those Veggies!

Here are some (sneaky) ways to pump up the (nutritional) volume of your toddler's favorite foods. It was easier to feed my daughter vegetables and food with nutrition as a baby, but as she grew a little older into her toddler years, she became pickier. It seemed all she wanted was carbs and junk food. If your child sounds like mind and you're worried about your picky eater not getting enough nutrients, use these strategies to add some wholesome ingredients to the foods he/she will eat! I promise it works:)

  • Slip in some veggies. Add finely grated vegetables (carrots, beets, zucchini work well) to rice, cottage cheese or even macaroni and cheese; they add a little color and a lot of nutrition.

  • Say cheese. Boost the calcium by grating mild cheeses such as cheddar, Colby, or Monterey Jack over veggies. I always sprinkle a little cheese into Kenzie’s broccoli and she eats it right up and usually asks for seconds.

  • Redo the recipe. You can hide almost any veggie inside a meatball. Whenever you cook chopped meat, toss in some grated vegetables (again, carrots, beets, zucchini). They add a mild flavor, lighten the texture and up the nutritional ante. Serving tomato sauce? Whether it's homemade or from a jar add in some finely chopped peppers, carrots, parsley or beans, and cook till the veggies soften. If you like, run the sauce through the blender or food processor to totally hide the additions.

  • Juices. No, not bottled juices, but green juice, all natural fruit and vegetable juices. Kenzie actually likes this apple and kale green juice I get loaded with nutrients.

  • Get fruity. Mash super-nutritious blueberries into pancakes to make "bluecakes"; make whole-grain raisin muffin-cakes with cream cheese "frosting" — this muffin trick works just as well with grated carrots, pumpkin and zucchini. I also make simple things like ants-on-a-log, which is simply celery with peanut butter and raisins, to make it “cute”. Kids are very visual so if you make their oatmeal pancakes into some Mickey Mouse ears using blueberries as eyes and whip cream smiley face they are definitely more liable to eat it:)

  • Sundae best. Layer pureed (or finely chopped) fruit with yogurt or cereal in a tall parfait glass. Or make a banana split for breakfast with a quarter of a banana, a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of cold cereal.

  • Pizza time. Sprinkle small pieces of soft-cooked (or roasted) veggies on top of homemade or store-bought pizza.

  • Veggie Pasta. Whenever I make her pasta, I use the vegetable pasta noodles with veggies already inside. She can’t taste the difference. Or you may want to try Zucchini pasta, this one may be iffy for toddlers but give it a try!

  • Bake it in. For a real treat, make (good-for-you) cookies together. Look for healthier recipes such as oatmeal raisin or ginger snaps made with whole grains. Or grate zucchini or carrots into the batter of plain cookies or muffins to boost the fiber and vitamins.

  • And then there’s always my favorite..”Finish your veggies or you don’t get any dessert”. This one is an oldie but a goodie and always does the job lol.

I’m a big believer in offering Kenzie fruits and vegetables at every meal. Research has shown that if you keep offering and keep offering, children will eventually try the produce you put in front of them. Slowly, it is starting to work for Kenzie, but it takes months and sometimes years of consistency.

While we wait for the “lightbulb” moment when our kids will try and like fruit and vegetables, we can use these tips to “sneak” in the nutrition we know our toddlers need!




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