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Handy ways to disguise vegetables in kids' meals!

October 19th, 2020
Chrissie
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Handy ways to disguise vegetables in kids' meals!
Rich in nutrients and antioxidants, everyone knows that it is important to have a diet that includes plenty of vegetables. Vegetables should be introduced to children as soon as they begin to eat solid foods, but often they are not as keen on the idea as their parents. What can be done to make meals less like a battlefield and for children to really enjoy eating vegetables throughout the day?

The main things to include in vegetable preparation are large spoonfuls of innovation and imagination! Just as adults do not like eating the same foods every day, unfortunately many children are repeatedly given the same vegetables. It is true that the main reason for the repetition is usually because the child has refused to eat most vegetables and has limited the choice and parents stick to the few preferred vegetables ‘for the quiet life’. The only way to make a change to your child’s attitude towards vegetables is to keep on tempting them with different vegetables, served in a variety of ways. This can be time consuming but if you are successful, there is much to gain! If you find that your attempts fail, don’t be too disheartened, just leave it for a few weeks and try the same vegetable again.

Here are some clever ways to slip some vegetables through your child’s veggie detection system!
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Think raw vegetables!

Quite a few vegetables taste as good eaten raw as they do cooked. Children love dipping foods so a great snack is an array of raw vegetables with a small bowl of dipping sauce such mayonnaise or hummus. A combination children love is one tablespoon of mayo mixed with an equal amount of tomato ketchup. Ideal ‘dippers’ can be made by cutting an array of vegetables into matchsticks and these include:

Carrot

Cucumber

Celery

Turnip

Bell pepper

Florets of cauliflower

Mangetout

Create tasty different mashed potatoes

Most children love mashed potato and this can be enhanced by adding some different vegetables such as butternut squash, turnip, parsnip and carrot. Cook the vegetables together (preferably by steaming to retain maximum nutrients) and then mash well with a little butter and milk. The strongest tasting vegetable is parsnip so if in doubt leave it out until your have had success!
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Add vegetables to sauces.

If your child loves meatballs and Spaghetti Bolognese, it is quite easy to add some extra vegetables to the sauce such as celery, carrots, beans, mushrooms, broccoli and aubergine. If you think your child will not mind small pieces of vegetable if they do not taste strongly, you can cut them into small cubes, or alternatively, you can pour the sauce into a liquidiser with the vegetables and blitz so that the vegetables cannot be seen with the naked eye!

Instead of making a traditional Shepherds’ Pie, you can add chopped green beans and carrot plus some sweetcorn to the sauce and a good sprinkling of grated cheese on top of the mashed potato is always popular!

Children tend to like creamy sauces – especially cheesy ones- so try serving vegetables with a little sauce on top. Cauliflower cheese tastes good with plenty of grated cheese on top, but as well as the cauliflower, you can try adding chopped carrot, peas, beans and sweetcorn.

Try different ways to cook vegetables.

Experimenting with roasted vegetables could prove really successful. Slices of butternut squash and beetroot roasted for about 45 minutes
in a little olive oil in the oven with a roast taste good.

If you have the barbecue on the go, why not make some vegetable kebabs by threading cherry tomatoes, slices of bell pepper, zucchini (courgette) and mushroom onto kebab sticks and brushing them with olive oil before cooking them over the charcoal for 8- 10 minutes.

A potential winner could prove to be homemade veggie burgers which could be more popular than you think! Chips made from sweet potato taste good and in some supermarkets you can find sweet potato waffles and these can be oven baked.
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Try some different vegetables!

You just never know what is going to appeal! Mung beans and bean sprouts are definitely worth a go and so are sugar snap peas and mangetout. Try spirals of courgette, zucchini (courgette) or spaghetti squash and cauliflower rice. This is so easy to make! Coarsely grate some cauliflower and gently sauté in a little olive oil for about ten minutes – the result really does look like rice!

Make some vegetable soup.

Children enjoy soup and again this is a good way of disguising plenty of vegetables! Cook any combination of vegetables in chicken or vegetable stock and then purée. Adding tomatoes will make the soup sweeter tasting and some broken lengths of spaghetti cooked in the soup makes it fun and of course, a sprinkling of grated cheese on top ensures a winner!

Or tempt your child with smoothies!

Again, a little experimenting with different combinations of vegetables and fruit is necessary until you come up with a winner! It is a great way to incorporate some leafy greens, but remember that some are more strongly flavoured than others. One good combination uses fresh baby spinach, blueberries, chopped banana and cucumber – all whizzed together to make the favourite drink of dinosaurs…

Chrissie x

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