Hidden veg for fussy eaters
We all know how hard it is to provide healthy meals and snacks for fussy eaters. New things for some little ones can seem quite traumatic and finding a stray pea can quite frankly ruin their day! For some it's about the texture, the tastes or just the fear of something new.
I am guilty of hiding a lot of vegetables and good stuff in my sons food and the rest of the family happily eat it too. We still serve the whole food as much as possible at other meals so they get to eat some or just see us enjoying it. If i'm eating something different or if we are eating out I try to talk about them and show how tasty it so one day it all might sink in!
Now my children are a little older I do explain what ingredients I have used to make meals that contain lots of hidden stuff…I will often wait until I have heard the "it's yummy mummy" before I announce that they've just eaten peas or Cauliflower.
Since having children I am very aware of my own vegetable intake so a lot of the veg I “hide” in our foods is as much for my benefit as theirs. I used to fill out meals with veggies when I was a student to save money and make meals go further so this is nothing new to me and something that I actually hope my children will continue to do when they get round to cooking their own meals.
I wanted to share some of the ways that I hide veggies and also some that I am yet to try but they sound fab...
Veggie pesto pasta - My kids love red pesto but turn their nose up at green pesto. What I love about pesto is you can hide quite a lot of veg into it. Just blend them up and stir in with the pesto.
My basic veg sauce recipe consists of Broccoli stem, carrot and sweetcorn but I also like to add courgette, aubergine and red peppers. I keep pouches of these in the freezer and call them "pasta bombs"
Have you also tried mashing up avocado into pesto? I needed a quick pasta option the other week so I mashed half and avocado with a table spoon of red pesto and stirred it into pasta (green pesto would work even better). It was a massive hit with extra "yummy" sounds coming from the kids so this has been served since with equal success. This is the first time Stanley has let an avocado past his lips since weaning.
An alternative is the SneakyVeg.com red sauce or ultimate hidden veg sauce. MyFussyEater.com also has a fab hidden veg tomato sauce recipe so there's plenty of options out there. My Carrot and butternut squash pasta sauce is also amazing and I use this as a healthier version of Mac n cheese. You can find this recipe here
Or what about making your own Kale Pesto! SneakyVeg.com has a fab recipe for this here
I get away with adding chopped up veggies such as onion, carrot, mushrooms, courgette and aubergine into Bolognese but I might also add a pasta bomb portion for added goodness. If you can get away with chunks of veggies then do as much as possible but if this is even too much for them then start with a pureed base and work your way up as they start to like / tolerate certain vegetables.
We love curry but we like it hot so the kids do have their own Healthy Chicken Curry version which is made with sweet potato and butternut squash mashed together with coconut milk as the sauce base with added chopped onion and carrots...so 4 vegetables in one meal! I am now starting to add a bit more flavour and spice as they are getting older and it's actually really tasty.
Nancy absolutely loves smoothies but then she loves most things. Stanley is still a little reluctant with them but he will have some from our pouches. I make them more juice like in texture for Stanley as this is his preference. What I love about smoothies is you can hide fruits and veg that they might not normally be willing to eat such as Avocado and spinach as well as fruits that they wouldn't normally eat. Thay are still getting the taste for them and may come round to enjoy them as they get older.
Ice pops are also great way to hide veg - use any of the smoothie recipes to fill an ice pop mould and freeze. Avocado. spinach, Kale and carrot can all be hidden in something that kids love.
So many vegetables can be hidden in cakes without ruining the overall enjoyment of eating cake. My kids love this courgette chocolate cake recipe and they have a chocolate and Beetroot muffin at school that they love. you could always try this Jamie Oliver recipe. Carrot cake is also a firm favourite and it feels so much better knowing you are getting some extra nutrients inside them even when it’s a treat.
I keep seeing amazing pictures on Instagram of veggie pancakes. I've not got round to trying any of these yet but click on the image below to be taken straight to the recipes.
Hummous and dips
Hummous is fantastic for hiding some extra veg and they get a good bit of garlic and chick peas to boot. Nancy and I both love beetroot hummus and i've seen lots of recipes for sweet potato hummous and carrot hummous.
Purees & Mash
This is a bit of an obvious one really but works a treat. carrot and swede mash is a proper grown up side dish so why not serve other combinations too? Stanley tried mushy peas once and loved it but they aren't so great for little tummies so I created "Green Stuff" made from blended peas, soya beans and a splash of milk. He now knows that it's made from peas which he "hates" but it's a texture thing for him. Do you have any unusual combinations that you mash with potato to make it more nutritious?
I have tried to add grated veg into cheesy muffins but I find the best way to ensure they are demolished is to add the veggies in puree form. We have a great recipe that we use and then freeze in small batches to be pulled out when needed. Part of the recipe calls for a vegetable puree which is just the one that I use for pasta or any vegetables you have available to blend!
I hope these give you some ideas to help pack a few extra veggies into your fussy one's diet. If you have any other tips please let me know. I'm always looking for ideas.