Hidden Vegetable Meals and Tips for Children (and husbands!)

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After ten years+ working in child care as well as five and three year old boys I know how strongly some children feel about not eating vegetables. My five year old has decided he dislikes most “begetables” and of course the three year old has decided if his brother hates them then so does he. You would think we were trying to feed them poison. The death stares I would get if I dared to add onion to a meal. I was starting to think I would have to sleep with one eye open.

I feel like a bit of a genius hiding veggies in their meals without them realising. Sometimes I even mentally high five myself – I need a life I know. The Thermomix is worth it’s weight in gold for being able to chop veggies so fine that my two vegetable detectives, who can sniff a vegetable from a mile away, can barely tell they are scoffing down of a variety of the horrendous food item.

I’m going to bold this section as hidden veggies can sometimes cause an up roar: In saying all of that, I still think its extremely important that my children are offered visible pieces of vegetables on their plate and in their meals. Our expectation is they eat the vegetables they like and at least try the ones that apparently look like poison. Each to their own however. 

They say it takes approximately 10 tries of an undesired food before a child may decide to like it or develop a taste for it. They obviously haven’t met my children. I think its about 30 tries!

We are all pretty good at sneaking in lots of fruit and veg to the kiddies diet but here are some of my tricks. Hopefully there is something that can help even with the fussiest of eaters:

Pizzas:

When making pizzas I include veggies into the actual dough. I generally blitz two zucchinis or a bowl full of baby spinach leaves and herbs before adding the rest of the ingredients and kneading. If your children are suspicious of green specks in their dough try using white vegetables instead such as peeled zucchini, potato and cauliflower.
For the sauce I will make my own if I have enough time. This generally consists of tomatoes, onion, garlic, herbs, carrot, capsicum and celery cooked and blitzed into a puree/sauce. You can add any vegetable though! Make a big batch of it and keep it in individual containers in the freezer.

Carbonara:

Carbonara has become a firm favourite in this house and its such a quick meal. Again I add zucchinis and/or cauliflower to the onion and bacon mix and cook down before adding the rest of the ingredients. I did recently add spinach to the mix, blitzing it down very finely. It came out a green sauce. The boys were convinced it was “hulk” pasta and gobbled it all down much to my surprise.

Meatballs/Meatloaf:

My boys love meatballs. This is the easiest way to pack in lots of veggies. I fill the bowl with onion or leek, garlic, herbs, carrot, spinach, capsicum and celery. I blitz it until its very fine. I add the mince. Give it a mix and then shape into balls. I freeze these raw. When I need a quick dinner I pop a few of these in a dish, pour on a sauce similar to the pizza sauce and cook in the oven. You can use any veggie for this. I’ve been known to add broccoli or sweet potato. It’s great for using up odds and ends.

Chicken Sausage Rolls:

These are a new favourite in this house. As above I pile the bowl full of veg. Use whatever quantities you want. It’s all to taste. My fave combination is spinach, leek, garlic, carrot and zucchini. I blitz these until very fine. I add two chopped up chicken breast. Blitz for about 30 seconds in 10 second intervals until I reach the desired consistency. By the time you add this to puff pastry, top with sesame seeds and bake the kiddies won’t notice the vegetables inside. If they do, tomato sauce is your friend! This also make yummy meatballs too.

Quiche and Pies:

I blitz some zucchini and spinach before adding the rest of my ingredients. You can add anything though: leek, onion, asparagus, corn, potato, broccoli and even peas! Pies are a great way to hide vegetables as you can hide so many flavours with a tomato based sauce or gravy.

Hamburgers and Patties:

When my boys have burgers they are extremely plain and a tad boring. Bun, burger, cheese and sauce. So like the meatballs I blitz a heap of veg and add to mince. 
Mum 1, Boys 0.

Chicken Nuggets/Fingers:

These are one of my boys fave. There are a few ways to add vegetables: instead of an egg mixture when crumbing use a vegetable purée such as cauliflower, sweet potato or pumpkin before rolling in breadcrumbs. I make my own bread crumbs and in it is chopped up spinach and herbs and a little Parmesan cheese.

Mince dishes such as Spaghetti Bolognese/Chilli Con Carne etc:

This is so easy to hide veg. Blitz your veggies of choice, cook down and then add your mince, tomatoes and herbs. I will generally use an equal amount of veg to mince. A tin of lentils added in the last five minutes of cooking is a great way to stretch the meal further too.

Scrolls and Breads:

Another fave in this house. Like the pizza dough I blitz some zucchinis or spinach an add the rest of the ingredients and knead. The boys barely notice and it makes the bread just that little bit softer and moist (in a good way!).

Risottos:

Apart from visible vegetables like spinach, asparagus and peas, blitzed zucchini and corn make great additions.

Tuna Mornay and similar:

Again blitzed zucchini and corn are great. I like to add onion/leek, garlic and spinach blitzed very finely.

Sausage dishes:

These are a great one to hide veg in as the flavours are intense and the colour of the curry or tomatoes are strong so hides veggies quite well. Chopped down zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, potato, onions, leeks, herbs all work well.

Pies:

Pies are a great way to sneak in extra veg when adding the vegetables in at the start as they turn into a puree and help build the sauce if chopped fine enough. You then off course can add extra whole veg to the mix too. Even if the kiddies pick them out they have still had their intake of veg in the meat and sauce.

Soups:

Its easy to pack these with veggies. Cook them and blitz them! Very easy. Use your veggie packed soups as a pasta bake sauce!

White or Cheese sauce

When making cheesy macaroni or lasagna for example I sometimes use potato or cauliflower pureed down in my sauce. It gives a nice consistency. You can do this for any creamy sauce however. Pureed potato, cauliflower, broccoli work a treat.

Mashed Potato/Veg

Other veg can be added to this – cauliflower, parsnip, peeled zucchini. Something I do is mash a heap of veggies and put them in filo pastry. Roll them up into spring roll shapes and serve with sauce. This is a great way to use veggies they love and sneak in a few they don’t.

Scrambled Eggs and Omlette

Grated veg and puree veg work really well with eggs. Zucchini, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli all work well.

Sauces

Making your own tomato sauce, pasta sauces etc means you can add heap of veg that the kiddies wouldn’t eat as is. For me that would be mushrooms, eggplant, capsicum, tomatoes and herbs. Dips are the same.



Sweet:

Muffins

Grated Zucchini is a great addition to sweet muffins. Apple and Zucchini muffins are delicious. Grated carrots are also a yummy addition to sweet muffins.

Biscuits

You would be surprised what you can hide in biscuits. Grated zucchini or cauliflower for example. Pumpkin works well too.

Chocolate Cakes/Brownies

Pureed pumpkin grated beetroot work really well in chocolate cakes and help bring out the flavours and sweetness. Grated Zucchini in brownies works well. 

Fruit Based Cakes

When making the whole orange cake why not add some grated carrot to it as well? Zucchini is a great addition to carrot cakes. Squash is a great addition to lemon cakes. Get creative! Cauliflower, carrot or squash puree work well in banana bread and help keep it moist. 

Chocolate Mousse

Avocados in choc mousse works really well! I’m yet to try it but friends rave about it.

Smoothies

Everyone knows how great smoothies are. Kiddies love them. These are a great way to sneak in some extra veg. Spinach and kale are great additions. Carrot as well.

Pancakes

Ok this sounds a little strange but zucchini grated into pancake mixture is quite yum! Once you top it with jam, lemon etc you cant even tell its there but give you some extra vitamins.

Peppermint cheesecake or ice cream

Why not add pureed spinach and mint to it?

By | 2017-06-12T11:23:46+00:00 January 5th, 2014|Categories: Kids, Lunch and Dinner, Lunchbox|4 Comments

About the Author:

Peta
Peta is a mum to three gorgeous and very energetic young boys. She loves everyday food that is achievable for a busy family, and has a passion for involving children in cooking.

4 Comments

  1. Rachel January 7, 2014 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    My daughter can find the tiniest bit of onion in anything. I now cook off the onion and garlic in the bowl, add some water and a little stock concentrate, blitz it up and make a thick ‘soup’, then continue with the recipe. She loves the extra flavour but does find any lumps. It is working well. 15 year olds can be outsmarted!

  2. Charndra February 1, 2014 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    A tip I learnt from my sister is to add some salami, kranski, mettwurst or kabana (any strong flavoured meat) to the mix to off-set the blandness the extra veggies create. It works! My hubby and kids don’t like me sneaking in extra veggies, but this makes it work!

  3. gartempe April 24, 2014 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Hello,

    Voici la recette de la Frita (livre Saveurs d’enfance – Vorwerk) ; c’est particulièrement simple & délicieux. (pour 4 personnes)

    400g poivrons rouges, 100g poivron vert, 250g tomates bien mûres & épépinées, 20g huile d’olive, 1 gros oignon, 1CC herbes de Provence, 1 pincée de piment doux, sel

    – Mixer oignon épluché & coupé en 2, 5sec vit5.
    – Racler parois du bol, ajouter huile & mijoter 3mn 100° vit1.
    – Ajouter fines lanières de poivrons, morceaux de tomates, herbes de Provence, sel, piment & cuire 40mn 100° sens inverse, vitesse mijotage & sans gobelet.

    Je la prépare la veille car les saveurs & parfums ressortent plus.

    Par ailleurs, quand je la prépare pour la pizza, je la laisse s’égoutter, à travers le panier, toute la nuit au-dessus d’un saladier. Cela évite trop de liquide pour pizza.
    Et voilà, une manière simple pour que les enfants mangent des légumes : les pizzas, ils aiment tous 🙂
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Hello,

    Here is the recipe of Frita (deliver Savours of childhood – Vorwerk); it is particularly simple and delicious. (For 4 persons)

    400g red peppers, 100g green pepper, 250g very ripe(mature) tomatoes and épépinées, 20g olive oil, 1 big onion, 1CC spices of Provence, 1 pinched of paprika, salt

    – Mix onion peeled and cut there 2, 5sec vit5.
    – Scrape walls of the bowl, add oil and simmer(plot) 3mn 100 ° vit1.
    – To add fine strips of peppers, fragments of tomatoes, spices of Provence, salt, hot pepper and to cook 40mn 100 ° inverse sense(direction), speed mijotage and without tumbler.

    I prepare her(it) the day before because the savours and the flavors stand out(go out again) more.

    Besides, when I prepare her(it) for the pizza, I let her(it) drain, through the basket, all night long over a salad bowl. It avoids too much liquid.

    And Here we are, a simple way so that the children eat vegetables: pizzas, they like(love) all 🙂

  4. Ricky Ricardo October 12, 2014 at 12:07 am - Reply

    My daughter can find the tiniest bit of onion in anything. I now cook off the onion and garlic in the bowl, add some water and a little stock concentrates, blitz it up and make a thick ‘soup’, then continue with the recipe. She loves the extra flavor, but does find any lumps. It is working well. 15 year olds can be outsmarted!

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