How to hide vegetables in food
Vegetables are often the hardest food to get children to enjoy, yet they are one of the most important. Most often children will object to vegetables due to their strong distinctive tastes or for being too chewy and stringy.
By mixing them with bland (and familiar) foods or using them in such a way that removes the texture, then children can start to appreciate the flavour of vegetables, which will help to encourage their developing palate.
While it is obviously better to encourage children to enjoy vegetables and build good eating habits, sometimes ‘a parents got to do what a parents got to do’ to ensure a balanced diet.
If you are having trouble getting your kids to eat their vegies, here are some tip on how to get a bit sneaky a get your family to ‘Go One Better’.
Hide them in pasta sauces
Pasta sauce is a great vehicle for disguising vegetables. Try to match up colours to fool little detectives, choosing pureed cauliflower for white sauces and carrots, pumpkin and red capsicum for red sauces. (This juiced up sauce also makes a great pizza topping.)
Hide vegies in mince meat meals
When it comes to mince, it’s easy to incorporate vegies without your family having the slightest idea. Here are a couple of ideas:
Shred squash and mix it in with your beef mixture, or finely chop onions, carrots, squash and other vegies then saute until translucent. Combine your vegie mixture in with your beef, form burgers, meatballs and meatloaf and cook as usual.
Mince favourites, such as chilli con carne, spaghetti bolognaise or chow mein are all rely on a mixture of various ingredients, not just the meat, for their flavour. Grated onion, carrot, zucchini, mushrooms or a handful of cooked beans will not affect the final flavour and, once cooked down will be hard to recognise.
What kid doesn’t like Taco night? It’s so much fun to set up the kitchen table with all the best toppings. Be sure to include a variety of colourful vegies like sautéed capsicum and onions as well as spring onions, purple cabbage, corn kernels, avocado or guacamole and lettuce that are eye catching and delicious. If that doesn’t work, sneak in some squash by shredding it and cooking it in to the taco meat. It will take on the colour and flavour of the taco seasoning and your kids will never know!
Wrap it up
Choose wrapped foods such as sausage rolls, rice paper rolls, falafel wraps and sushi to hide away vegetables. You can also puree vegetables to make healthy spreads to smear on tortillas, flat breads and rolls.
Bake with them
It’s no secret that kids love baked treats. Carrot or zucchini cake, beetroot brownies, savoury tomato and spinach muffins or pumpkin pie are just a few great options to try. And for bread bakers, try stuffing dough with marinated Mediterranean vegetables or folding diced olives through dough before adding it to the oven.
Add it to favourite foods
Pizza, burgers, sausage rolls and pies are some favourite kid meals that can also be used for disguising vegetables. Add mushrooms to a chicken pizza, diced spring onions and carrot to sausage rolls, zucchini to hamburger patties and chunks of root vegetables to pies.
Pancake Batter: Sounds funny doesn’t it? But hiding vegies in pancakes is as simple as hiding vegies in muffins and bread. Grate some zucchini and mix it in with the batter. Cook on a non stick pan as usual – the zucchini will melt right in. Your kids will have trouble finding the vegies in this one! Top with sliced bananas for a yummy breakfast treat!
The Blender Is Your Ally
Kids can spot an onion at first glance; and heaven forbid that they should bite into a something that is slightly crunchy. Here’s a trick. When you add vegetables to a soup or dish such as lasagne, saute the vegies until soft and puree the cooked vegetables before adding to the dish.
Kids love mashed potatoes but we shouldn’t eat too much. Next time try cutting the amount of potatoes the recipe calls for in half and replacing them with steamed cauliflower. Mash and combine the potatoes and cauliflower as usual with a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Take it a step further and drop the potatoes altogether for a low-carb super sneaky way to get in your vegies!