Some parents will agree and some parents will disagree with the idea of sneaking nutritious foods into meals so that your kids will unknowingly consume vegetables and fruit. However, this is one way to ensure your pickier eaters will get the nutrition we can all agree they need. If you are one of the many parents that struggle with a picky eater here are some tips on how to make healthy additions to the meals your kids already love to eat.
Spaghetti and meatballs
Mix a can of antioxidant-packed diced tomatoes into your marinara sauce and then toss in shredded carrots, chopped broccoli, chopped spinach, diced peppers, chopped mushrooms, or chopped onions to increase the amount veggies even more. Or try thickening spaghetti sauce using nutrient rich pumpkin puree. Also, try adding shredded carrots or chopped broccoli to meatballs.
Skip the fatty meats and top your pizza with flavor-packed nutrient-boosters like chopped or sliced tomatoes, red peppers, pineapple, broccoli, or basil leaves. Try to add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of vegetables or fruit to each slice.
Mac and cheese
When making mac and cheese from scratch use whole wheat pasta and low-fat cheese. Add veggies to homemade mac and cheese or mac and cheese from the box by adding frozen mixed veggies like peas, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli to increase veggie intake. This mac and cheese makeover will not only boost the nutrition value but it will also cut calorie consumption. Or try adding orange puree to mac and cheese using the recipe listed below.
Peanut butter and jelly
Buy natural peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter which has added sugar. Make sandwiches using whole wheat bread. Use bananas or apples as a substitute for sugary jams and jellies or use sugar-free 100% fruit spread instead.
Supplement the vegetables and protein in soup by adding a white bean puree (see recipe below) or add some thawed frozen mixed vegetables like pea and carrot.
Layer lasagna with nutrient rich veggies like eggplant, yellow squash, or use chopped spinach, broccoli, or cauliflower.
Other sneaky tips
- Mash cooked cauliflower in with your mashed potatoes
- Add greens like raw baby spinach to a fruit smoothie
- Mix dried fruit into oatmeal or cereal
- Add yogurt or white bean puree to tuna and chicken salad sandwiches instead of mayo to cut fat and increase protein
- Use whole grains like wheat pastas and whole wheat pitas, wraps, bagels, and breads
- Use baby food for a convenient premade puree
Add pureed veggies and fruit to make your regular recipes healthier. Here are some veggie and fruit purees you can make at home.
1 yam, peeled and cut into chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2-3 Tbsp. water
In a pot, cover yam and carrots with water and boil for 25 minutes or until very tender. Drain and puree in a food processor with water until smooth.
Makes 1 ½ cups
Add to mac and cheese and tomato sauces for pasta or pizza.
White Bean Puree
1-2 Tbsp. water
Makes 1 cup