A common concern parents express to me, is whether their picky eaters are eating enough veggies. As if we parents don’t have enough on our plates…because it’s definitely not on our kids’. Instead of struggling, opt for recipes with hidden veggies!
It is easy to fall into the trap of processed foods while giving in to convenience for the sake of your child getting something in their stomach.
All we want is the best for our children, and below you’ll find some ways to incorporate hidden veggies into what will soon become some of their favorite recipes.
Importance of Veggies
Even if you’ve been telling yourself, it’ll be ok. I was a picky eater as a kid and I turned out just fine… You’re probably right, even if your child doesn’t eat copious amounts of veggies. Kids are resilient. These recipes with hidden veggies for kids will allow you to avoid the fight.
According to the CDC, recommendations range from 1-2 cups for fruit and 1-3 cups for vegetables. While children are eating more fruit nowadays, they seem to still be lacking in the consumption of vegetables.
Aside from growth and development the vitamins and minerals that vegetables provide also help strengthen their immunities. What I’ve done is put together some of my favorite recipes with hidden veggies for kids.
Now you can rest assured that your child(ren) is getting some of the nutrients he or she needs.
I’ve always limited the amount of sugar my kids consume. In fact, I think they get more excited at the thought of sweets than they do actually eating them. This dessert recipe is perfect for kids and adults as it had hidden veggies that you would never know were in it.
This dessert is packed with veggies and it is also dairy and egg-free. Depending on dietary restrictions you can search for a cake mix that accommodates allergens, such as gluten friendly.
I call this the Chocolate Salad Cake, but when you serve it to your kids you might want to simply call it Chocolate Cake.
Pour about ½-¾ package of cake mixture into a bowl. Shred all vegetables (grated if possible) and one apple. Add baking powder. Stir cake mix, veggies & baking powder together until moist.
Layer the bottom of a 9” cake pan with raspberries. Pour cake mixture on top.
Bake for 20 minutes. Check the cake by putting a toothpick or knife in the cake. When it comes out clean the cake is ready. If the cake looks too moist, continue to bake for additional 5-6 minute increments.
When the toothpick comes out clean, flip the cake over onto a plate, let cool down and serve.
Replacing the Blue Box Macaroni N’ Cheese
If you have a child that loves mac n’ cheese, then this “cheez” sauce is sure to be a hit! It pairs perfectly with pasta, is great for nachos, and works as a dipping sauce for MORE vegetables.
A great way to get kids to try new foods is by offering dipping sauces.
1 Red Potato (small, roughly chopped)
¼ cup Yellow Onion (roughly chopped)
1 clove Garlic
⅓ cup Carrot (roughly chopped)
1 TBS Lemon Juice
¼ cup Nutritional Yeast
3 TBS Cashews (soaked)
2 TBS Miso Paste
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
¼ tsp Sea Salt
½ cup Water
In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and then add the potatoes, onion, garlic, and carrots. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until soft.
While the veggies are cooking, use a high-speed blender to blend the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, cashews, miso, smoked paprika, salt, and water into the blender.
Once veggies are soft, drain and add to the blender with the other ingredients.
Blend until very smooth.
Ready for a fiesta?
If your family is anything like mine, then I’ll bet they enjoy Mexican food! Sometimes it’s hard for me to make Mexican food because I prefer spice and my kids, not so much. What I have found are ways to sneak hidden veggies into the recipe.
Enchiladas and tacos are the perfect way to include hidden veggies. These recipes are interchangeable too. You can use the hidden veggie enchilada filling for burritos or tacos!
1 cup Lentils (I like French green lentils or brown)
2 1/2 cups Vegetable Broth, or water
1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds (Sunflower Seeds can be used as a substitute)
1 1/3 cup Rolled Oats
3 TBS Tomato Paste
2 Bell Peppers
1 medium carrot, shredded
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Onion, chopped
2 TBS Flax Seeds
1/2 TBS Onion Powder 1/2 TBS Garlic Powder
2 tsp Oregano
1 1/2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Paprika
12 Tortillas for serving Homemade or Store-bought Enchilada Sauce
Rinse lentils and place in a medium-size pot. Add broth and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer with a lid on for about 20 minutes (or until tender). Remove pot from heat but keep covered for an additional 10 minutes.
While the lentils cook, prepare your enchilada sauce.
In a skillet sauté onion and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally – add 1 TBS water at a time to keep from sticking. Add chopped bell peppers and grated carrot. Sauté for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add all dry ingredients (spices, oats, seeds, & flax) to a food processor. Blend until well mixed.
Add cooked veggies and tomato paste to the processor and blend again.
Add cooked lentils and blend until everything is combined. Mixture will be thick, yet chunkier than a puree.
Preheat your oven to 400F.
Over a tortilla, spread approximately 2 TBS of mixture, then roll up the tortilla to form enchilada. Place in a lightly greased baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. It is ok if you need to layer enchiladas to fit into a baking dish.
Pour enchilada sauce on top of the tortillas and bake for 10-15 minutes.
1 15oz can Kidney Beans ~ 1 ¼ cups, drained
6 medium Mushrooms, ~ 1 cup
¾ cup Walnuts
2 tsp Taco or Fajita Seasoning of choice, or
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp ground Cumin
½ tsp ground Garlic
½ tsp Oregano
1 tsp Chili Powder (optional)
12 Tortillas, flour or sprouted corn
Add all of the taco ‘meat’ ingredients (including seasonings) to a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds at a time, scraping the sides down regularly, until you get a coarse mixture. It’s ok if it is crumbly or paste-like with a few larger pieces.
Transfer the meat mixture to a frying pan, and place over medium heat. Stirring once every couple of minutes, allow the mixture to cook for 7-10 minutes. Should be thoroughly warmed and starting to brown.
Once the mixture is hot, assemble your tacos using either flour or sprouted corn tortillas. Add toppings of choice for extra flavor.
Ice Cream in the Morning?!
Do you ever have a hard time getting your kids to eat breakfast in the morning? I know I do. That’s why I’ve been able to incorporate green smoothies, bowls, and even “nice” cream!
And finally, an oldie, but a goodie!
Smoothies and smoothie bowls allow for veggies to be hidden easily. My kids see me drinking a green smoothie every morning. Kids are naturally interested in what us grown-ups are eating and drinking, reminding us to set a good example!
What’s fun about smoothie bowls is that you can play them off as ice cream. Kids love having ice cream in the mornings!
A couple of my favorite flavor combinations include;
Blend one of the above combinations in a high-speed blender adding coconut water or coconut milk to reach desired consistency. For the smoothie bowl to be more filling add oats to the blender or top with your favorite sugar-free granola.
Recipes with Hidden Veggies Can Turn into Healthy Habits
What we want to do is implement healthy habits for our kids’ future. Maybe your parents used recipes that included hidden veggies and you didn’t know it!
Some additional recipes that allow for hidden veggies to blend easily are plant-based burgers that use mushrooms, marinated carrot “hot dogs”, and even homemade marinara sauce.
Don’t worry, even if you grew up a picky eater (and maybe still are), these recipes aren’t just limited to kids.
Sometimes seeing vegetables becomes more mental. Creating recipes with hidden veggies hides them visibly, and also gives you a new way to experience the texture and preparation.
What are your favorite recipes with hidden veggies?
Lacy Catao is a certified Holistic Nutritionist, former paralegal and Army veteran. Motherhood inspires Lacy to share her knowledge of nutrition and optimal wellness, while also providing lifestyle insight as a mother striving to parent with grace and patience. This California native planted her roots in northern Nevada with her husband in 2016. She contributes her love for country living to Idaho, which is where she spent most of her school-age years. Lacy is the mother of three girls and two stubborn Bulldogs.