Dinnertime can be a ritual nightmare if your children are picky eaters. In fact, any meal is difficult when there’s a battle between what foods you want your kids to be eating versus what they are willing to put in their mouths. Here are 10 ways to secretly feed your picky eaters healthy meals and snacks:
1. Pasta sauce
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Spaghetti bolognese always goes down a treat with the kids, so take advantage of this family favourite and stuff your pasta sauces with anything and everything! Grated carrot, grated apple, celery, capsicum, leeks, chopped tomatoes—Bolognese allows a lot of veggies to fly under the radar!
2. Smoothies and juices
Not only are these beloved by kids and a great way of upping their daily fruit intake, you can sneakily introduce other vegetables for an added health hit. Add spinach (or kale) to your regular juice concoctions where the taste will go unnoticed, or for even creamier smoothies, add avocado to a berry smoothie. The berries are guaranteed to overpower the taste of the avo!
3. Minced meat
Like pasta sauce, minced meat is one of those foods that can hide a heap of vegetables and kids will be none the wiser. Moreover, it is incredibly versatile! Your veggie-stocked mince is the foundation of tacos, burritos, lasagnes, chilli con carne, and homemade burger patties.
4. Vegetables chips
A perennial kid-friendly dinner classic, vegetable chips are a sure-fire hit. Making your own thick-cut potato wedges or fries is a good start, but branching out into sweet potatoes, carrots and even turnips makes vegetables look more palatable. You can usually count on anything in chip form being highly desirable for a picky eater.
5. Lunchbox wraps
This is sort of repackaging the dreaded school lunchbox salad sandwich. Putting the same ingredients into a tortilla, pita pocket, or any sort of wholemeal wrap makes the humble salad sandwich look like a tuck shop treat. It’s all about the appearance!
Don’t forget about dinner sides and accompaniments, particularly sauces. Supplement a fresh applesauce with spinach (the heavy green colour is easily passed off as apple!) or fortify your Sunday roast gravy with pureed veggies.
7. Mac and cheese
A tried and tested kid favourite, you can add some nutrients to an otherwise unhealthy dinner. Small pieces of cauliflower will go unnoticed, and sweet butternut pumpkin will make it test even better!
8. Frozen sweet treats
Make your own healthy ice blocks by freezing your own fruit and vegetable juice concoctions. Frozen yoghurt is also a healthier version of ice cream, and simple to make. Frozen grapes are a fantastic idea for the summer months, and for ‘banana ice cream’ that isn’t really ice cream, simply freeze some bananas, let them thaw a little and whip them up in a food processor. Too easy!
9. Sweet treats
Zucchini brownies, beetroot brownies, carrot cake, apple bran muffins—there are thousands of recipes that allow you to add vegetables to morning tea. Your kids won’t have the faintest idea.
10. Sticks and dip
Okay, so these vegetables aren’t exactly hidden, but if you make a healthy homemade dip (like hummus, guacamole, herb and yoghurt, or spinach and pesto), there will be less hesitation in picking up the carrot and celery sticks for an afternoon snack.
Do you have a special hidden vegetable recipe for your picky eater?
By Elizabeth Rowe