4 ways to get veggies into your kids. By Wanda Ra Freeman
Being a parent is scary and hard… keeping them alive until they leave home is hard enough, but is it enough? I think not quite.
So much to consider, emotional development, education, and physical well-being. We must nurture, counsel, nourish, love, and feed the minds of the souls who come through us and into being. We all want to give them the tools they need to flourish in this difficult-to-navigate world. However, sometimes just getting them to eat healthy food can seem a mission impossible! Personally, I want my children to associate food with a relaxed and happy environment. This is to develop a healthy relationship with food and to discourage the link between food and conflict or food and control. With that in mind, forcing my kids to eat is not an option for me.
I have put together four techniques I use to get my small humans to eat vegetables whilst loving mealtimes.
1: Hide the vegetables!
This trick is self-explanatory, I simply disguise vegetables into things my children enjoy eating. Below are some simple recipes.
Red sauce for pasta or pizza
In a food processor add whatever fresh veg you have available. I like to use 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, half a courgette, 1 red bell pepper, 1 carrot, 1 celery stick, and a handful of fresh basil or parsley. The next step is to put the food processor on high and whizz until finely chopped. Next add one can of tomatoes, ½ tsp of salt, and 1 tbsp of honey. Whizz again until well combined and then transfer to a saucepan. If you would like to make this into Bolognese add mincemeat or Veggie mince here. Simmer gently until well cooked and beginning to thicken.
I use this sauce to stir through cooked pasta or use it as pizza sauce.
Veggie mac n cheese
In a blender jug, add 1 clove of garlic, 1 stick of celery, 1 sliced courgette, 1 floret of cauliflower, and 2 pints of oat milk or milk of your choice. Blend on high until smooth.
In a large saucepan, melt 80g of butter or butter alternative and then stir in 50g of plain flour. Whilst the pan is still on moderate heat stir the flour/butter mixture whilst slowly adding the veg milk from the blender. Keep stirring until it’s all combined, and the sauce is reaching boiling point. Finally, add 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of mustard, and a cup of shredded cheese. I like a mix of cheddar and parmesan. This cheese sauce can be kept in the fridge and used to stir into pasta or mix with cooked macaroni and bake with extra cheese on top. Yum.
2: Serve the vegetables before dinner
My experience with children is that if they have a plate with their favourite things to eat and some veg on the side, they will often try to leave the veg behind. One way I get around this is to give my kids some vegetable snacks whilst they’re waiting for dinner. At this point they are often relaxing with some TV or playing together. They’re hungry and distracted, perfect conditions to slide in a plate of veggie snacks.
For this, I give them veggies that I know they can tolerate as well as something new just for exposure. Some options could include:
Raw vegetable slices that my kids like include cucumber, carrot, and mange tout. These are usually served with hummus or sour cream and cheese dip.
Another thing they enjoy is a vegetable fruit plate. When making this, think of what your kids like and try to incorporate that. For example…
Sliced cucumber, sliced tomatoes, and some crunchy lettuce sprinkled with some parmesan cheese and some slices of apple and orange on the side.
Cooked veg starter
I regularly ask my kids what veg they like at the moment. When they say "none", which they often do, I say “well you must choose some that you can tolerate otherwise I'll buy the ones I like”, and then they always come up with something.
My little one’s favourites include buttery broccoli and baby corn, and her brother likes cooked carrots, broccoli, and peas. So, I simply steam the vegetables and bring them to the kids and say I have some veggies for you whilst you wait. The pizza comes when they’re finished.
Honestly, smoothies are a lifesaver… the kids love them and it’s amazing what you can hide in there. We have two basic options, fruity or chocolate, and both varieties are packed full of nutrients. If your kids are not used to smoothies, then start out purely with flavour in mind. Aim to get them loving smoothies. So, a fruity one could be ice, some frozen berries, a banana, and some oat milk or apple juice. And a chocolate one could be chocolate powder, oats, milk, banana, or peanut butter. Some of our fave recipes are below. Once they are used to the concept of smoothies start adding some extra health boosts whether it be sneaky vegetables or superfood powders.
1 banana, a scoop of ice, half a cup of berries of choice, a handful of spinach, and top up with half juice and half water.
1 scoop of ice. 1 avocado (trust me they can’t taste it), 1 tbsp oats, 1 tsp cacao, 1 tsp Nutrient Pure protein powder, ½ tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp honey or maple syrup. Top up with oat milk and blend.
For our smoothies, we use a bullet-style blender with cups. We have spare cups so that everybody can easily have their own smoothie blend. This is great because you simply add all your ingredients to the cup, add the blender lid and blend. Remove the blender lid and add a drinking lid with a hole for a straw. There is hardly any mess, washing up, or spills.
4: Wellbeing blend
The Marvellous Superfood Wellbeing blend is a mixture of seven raw superfoods. Simply dried and powdered. I think of this superfood mix as our parental fallback, a superpower, a card up our sleeves!
I don’t say this lightly! The reason it is so good is because of the sheer quantity of raw organic vegetables in every teaspoon. If you can get your kids to enjoy it then you have won. When my kids have had their well-being drink, I know in the back of my mind that I don’t have to worry. Regardless of how well I do that day with getting them to eat their vegetables, I know that they are all good. 1 teaspoon of Wellbeing blend is the equivalent of a bowl of raw greens.
How do we get them to like it?, you may ask, well that’s a good question! The answer is, the sooner the better. When they are babies or toddlers everything is new, so they are not fazed by a delicious sweet green drink. Implement it as early as possible.
If that ship has sailed and you have a fussy child that looks at you like you are mad when you present them with anything green, then start them out slowly… I have managed to transform some kids into Wellbeing lovers by telling them we need a shot of energy juice to make us super for the day.
Simply get a small bottle of their favourite juice and add a tiny, tiny bit of the green powder and shake it up! Bring out some tiny cups or glasses and see if you can make a bet that you can drink more shots than they can, and you are bound to win the race to swings/ park/front door. Just make it fun and slowly build up to a teaspoon each. My kids now watch me add a full teaspoon of green powder to their individual bottles of juice and shake up before passing them their energy juice to drink on the way to school.
Good luck! It’s a jungle out there.