Before you sigh in frustration; no this is not yet another article which suggests that a child will chow down on carrots and broccoli with no reservation simply because these vegetable have been arranged into a smiley face on their dinner plate!
Parents know that the inclusion of vegetables at all during a young child’s meal time can be a recipe for a howling and leg-kicking disaster and so sneaking the goodness of legumes into a child’s diet without detection is an advised practise. As the mother of five children (aged from three to 14), I have come up with several ways of doing such over the years and I am going to share three of my most successful techniques with you below:
The Blender is Your Best Friend
Kids often love meals such as lasagne, spaghetti bolognaise and pizza but your children could spend an entire meal attempting to pick out every trace of a vegetable from these dishes if you’re not careful! Appearances can be deceiving however and as such, preparing one of these dishes using a specially made vegetable-rich tomato sauce – blended to such a degree that the veggies are completely un-spottable – can be the ideal way of injecting much needed vitamins and minerals into your child’s diet.
A basic recipe for such a tomato sauce can be made in this way (don’t be afraid to include more vegetables if you feel you can get away with doing so!)
- An onion;
- 75g carrot;
- 50g Courgette;
- Half a stick of celery;
- 400g of passata;
- A clove of Garlic;
- 1 tablespoon of tomato puree and
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Finely chop all of the vegetables to be included in the sauce and then heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the vegetables and cook for five minutes (be sure to stir regularly) and then add the garlic (crushed) and cook for a further minute.
At this point, the tomato puree and passata should be added to the pan. The mixture should then be covered and left to simmer for around 20 minutes. Once the mixture has cooled, it can be poured into a blender to be completely pulverised. Alternatively, you can use a hand blender though this is less effective at hiding the presence of vegetables in my experience.
Sneaky Vegetable Fries
Whilst hiding a plethora of green peas underneath a pile of mashed potato is hardly going to fool the majority of children, I have previously found that a pile of fries (or “chips” to European folk) are often useful for the sneaky inclusion of vegetables in a child’s dinner.
In amongst a pile of potato fries, fries made from vegetables such as parsnips or butternut squash can be included. The first time I tried this trick was with parsnips alone. My daughter Becky (who was five years old at the time) commented that some of her fries tasted “strange” and I told her that the sweet taste was because they were special “sugar fries.” I don’t think she believed me but this didn’t stop her from munching them down anyway!
Trailing this method with the inclusion of butternut squash chips meanwhile has been successful on occasion too, despite the fact that their orange colour could have immediately caused alarm bells to ring in the heads of my children. “Orange fries” tend to go down as well as their potato and parsnip counterparts though, especially when they have been teamed with the kids’ favourite condiment; tomato ketchup.
Delicious Vegetable Juice
Pleasant tasting vegetable juices are a great way of getting plenty of nutrition into your child. The vegetable juice that is most popular with my own children goes by the name of V8 due to the number of veggies it contains (carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress, spinach). My kids love this juice so much that even after I informed them of its contents they are still willing to chug it down!
When Stella was four years old (she’s now nine) she would occasionally claim that she did not like the juice despite drinking it on many occasions before. I told her that she would have to drink a glass if she wanted dessert after her dinner – a bribe that never failed to work.
It goes without saying that homemade vegetable juices are likely to be far more nutritious than their shop-bought equivalents, due to less processing. Try using a lot of fruit juice to cover the taste of bitter vegetables in your own concoctions.
The author of this post – Kat Cole – is not only the mother of five children but she also designs a variety of playground equipment for kids in her spare time, including tree houses and cubbies.