If your children yearn for vegetables the way mine clamor for candy, congratulations. But before you get too cocky, be aware that this phase may pass—my daughter cried at her first birthday party when she was asked to put down her broccoli spear to enjoy a first slice of “smash cake”…and now, at age 8, cries just as pitifully when we have the nerve to insist that she at least taste the leafy items we’ve put on her plate. But that’s OK—I’ve found a few surefire ways to sneak vegetables into my kids’ diets, without them knowing it. If you’re not raising kale lovers, try slipping these tricks into your arsenal.
- “Pretend” Punch
You know how most versions of “fruit punch” don’t contain fruit and are typically just a blend of sugar, water and red dye? Well, Earth Blends Superfruit Red powder makes an amazingly similar-tasting drink that does contain fruit as well as kale, broccoli and spinach! You just stir one scoop into a cup of cold water. It turns a pretty red color (thanks to natural raspberry, blood oranges and strawberries). I tell my 3 year-old it’s “Superman” juice.
- Be Sneaky With Squash
Squash (summer, spaghetti, zucchini, etc.) is a vegetable that’s low in calories and extremely high in nutrients including copper, manganese and vitamin C. It also is almost impossible to taste squash when mixed into baked goods and sauces. I puree zucchini and mix it into extra-lean ground turkey for a kid-friendly taco night. You can also mix the puree into brownie mixes. My kids adore this recipe for no-bake (and dairy-free) strawberry cheesecake, which contains zucchini as one of its many healthy ingredients.
- Smoothie Secrets
You don’t get more kid-friendly than a strawberry-banana smoothie! Add ice, your favorite milk (dairy or dairy-free) and some protein powder, and you’ve got a nutrient-dense meal they’ll slurp up with glee. While you’re at it…throw in some spinach. Your children will not taste the green goodness if you’ve added enough fruit and stevia or honey, and with enough brightly pigmented berries, the green color should go undetected. Another good “smoothie secret” is carrot, which is naturally sweet. Bottoms up!