It can be really tough to get kids to eat vegetables. The green ones, in particular. One of the hardest veggies to work into kids’ diets is spinach. From the dark green color the the slightly biting flavor, this iron- and calcium-rich vegetable is frequently met with disdain and horror by the majority of little ones. But when something is so packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential to helping your kids grow up healthy and strong, it can be worth a bit of trickery to get it in their diet.
While there are the standards tricks, like adding spinach to smoothies, if you have a child that is truly “green averse,” you’ll need to get really creative. Here are four easy ways to sneak spinach, or other healthy veggies, into foods that your kids will never suspect!
1. Meatloaf (or veggie loaf)
While this can seem like an outdated and archaic main dish, you would be pleasantly surprised to see how many kids really enjoy this staple of American cuisine. You most certainly can make it with ground turkey or chicken (or make a veggie loaf!) if your family doesn’t eat red meat.
In this instance, your food processor is going to be your best friend. While you can chop carrots, zucchini, spinach and more to add to meatloaf, the smaller your pieces, the better your luck. Once you have nice fine pieces, they will mix in with all the other ingredients and become nearly undetectable. If your kids love organic ketchup or BBQ sauce, you’ll be even more successful in hiding this heaping serving of veggies on their plate.
For this one, spinach is camouflaged so well that they will have devoured an entire tray before you unveil the secret ingredient. You can hand chop, use a food processor, or even blend fresh spinach and add it to your brownie batter. It really doesn’t take any more thought than that.
Bake the brownies according to the normal directions and let them cool before serving. With every bite your kids take you will feel like a diabolical vegetable serving savant.
3. Pasta sauce
Many kids won’t eat anything if they see a speck of green vegetable in it but absolutely love spaghetti. If you’re going to add veggies to your pasta sauce, make sure it’s a fresh-made marinara without too many herbs added, as you won’t want to raise any suspicions.
Your best bets are going to be carrots or spinach, you don’t want to use any vegetables that may be stringy or have a tough skin. Purée your vegetables completely before incorporating them into the sauce. Once you see how easy this is, spaghetti night will never be the same again. This also doubles as a pizza sauce if you’re really an evil genius.
4. Breads and muffins
Baking fresh bread and muffins is somewhat of a lost art these days. The sad thing is we are missing out on so many delicious treats as well as devious ways to get kids to eat veggies.
Zucchini bread is one of those baked goods that often gets overlooked. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s fluffy texture and sweet taste make for a fantastic addition to home packed lunches or as an after school snack. The same goes for carrot muffins. With either of these recipes it’s as simple as finely shredding the vegetables with a food processor or by hand with a mandolin or grater and adding them to the bread batter.
While this method may not work with those kids that are able to defect the slightest speck of veggies in their meal, for those that are only mildly fussy this is a great option.