In a perfect world, your little dining buddy would adore dark leafy greens and vibrant root veggies. They’d swoon over legumes and salivate after eggplant. Mealtimes would be celebratory and joyous, and everyone would clean their plates without a single complaint.
But this is the real world. Here, kids are picky. They can be finicky about taste, texture, or even colors of certain foods. Some children self-restrict their diets to the point of malnutrition. In fact, lacking certain vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, can cause foods to taste bad to children. So, when your little one balks at vegetables after one bite, he’s not necessarily lying. It could be the lack of veggies that has created the vicious cycle in the first place.
The recipes in this roundup will help health up your dinnertime plans -- whether your child refuses to eat a single spinach leaf or you just want to boost the nutrition of the foods they are already used to eating. Feeling a little uncomfortable about the impending dinnertime deception? Don’t.
In my experience, kids are much more likely to eat something once they found out they’ve actually already eaten it before. It’s often the fear of trying something new or the desire to exhibit control over food choices that prevents them from eating those Brussels sprouts or roasted carrots. Adding veggies to dishes they already love is an easy way to ensure that your kids are getting proper nutrition. Once you ‘fess up, they’ll see it as a fun way to eat the foods they didn’t necessarily want to eat.
1. Mac and Cheese and Carrots
Cooked well and pureed til smooth, bright orange veggies like sweet potatoes and carrots blend seamlessly into your kids’ favorite macaroni and cheese. If your kids like the white mac and cheese varieties, use white veggies like cauliflower and zucchini instead.
+ Photo and Recipe by Pure Land Organic
2. Mean Green Smoothie Machine
When it comes to packing more greens into your tots’ diets, blueberries are a parent’s best friends. Purple smoothies, packed with blueberries and other red berries, are the perfect sweet vehicle to cover up sneaky doses of tender baby spinach.
+ Photo and Recipe by Alaska from Scratch
3. Lentil Cookies
Replacing some of the liquid with a puree of cooked lentils adds protein and fiber to a favorite after school treat. The best part, of course, is that your hungry little snack monster won’t even suspect what makes these cookies so tasty.
+ Photo and Recipe by The Verdant Life
4. Black Bean Brownies
A popular treat with the high-protein, low-fat crowd, brownies made with black beans are also a hit with the kiddos. The familiar chocolate flavor and dense, fudgey texture disguise the secret ingredient.
+ Photo and Recipe by No Meat Athlete
5. Cauliflower Pizza Crust
The cauliflower version of pizza crust isn’t about to fool anyone. However, if your kids are anything like the ones I know, nothing will stop them from inhaling anything that resembles pizza. Try swapping out their usual crust for this gluten-free, nutrient-rich version made from cauliflower and see for yourself.
+ Photo and Recipe by Detoxinista