It can be hard to get your kids to eat vegetables and fruits. If this is true in your family, you are not alone. Did you know that most children do not get the daily recommended amounts of vegetables and fruits in their diets? As a mother of three, I can honestly say that I can relate to that statement. Two of my children are pretty good about eating vegetables and trying new things, but my youngest, well, that’s a whole other ball game. He won’t eat any vegetables at all!
I’ve always been a little jealous of the moms that say their kids will eat anything. With my youngest, it’s always been a struggle. I used to think I was a bad parent, but I have come to realize that this is more common than I thought, and all kids are just different. It took a long time for me to quit fighting a losing battle, and just accept that all I needed was a new game plan. I told myself, if he won’t eat any vegetables, then you are just going to have to start hiding them.
I was excited and started out with baked goods. My youngest is known around our house as the Muffin Man! If I want him to eat something nutritious, I just toss it in a muffin and he gobbles it up. I started experimenting and made these Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Muffins (packed with protein and goodness). These muffins are made with ripe bananas, peanut butter, honey, Greek yogurt, and the combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour. These are a great option to pack in school lunches.
Because my major struggle was vegetables, I started incorporating vegetables into different muffins. I use carrots to make Spiced Carrot Muffins, and zucchini for Zucchini Bread Muffins. My youngest son loved every muffin and had no idea he was eating vegetables. I was so excited to have finally found a way to sneak a little goodness into his diet.
I usually spend a day steaming, shredding and pureeing vegetables for cooking and baking. I separate everything into one-cup packets and then store those packets in a large zip-top bag and place it in the freezer. This way I have pureed veggies on hand anytime I want to be sneaky!
Beans are also a great source of protein and wonderful in baked goods. I use pureed black beans for Black Bean Brownies and pureed white beans to make White Bean Banana Bread. You can also use white bean puree in macaroni and cheese or white bean chocolate chip cookies.
You can also hide all sorts of vegetables in sauces. I came up with this Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce because my son loves spaghetti. This spaghetti sauce has all sorts of different hidden vegetables like tomatoes, onions, zucchini, carrots, celery and peppers. This is where having pureed veggies on hand in the freezer comes in so handy. Another trick is to use your favorite regular spaghetti sauce and just add shredded veggies to meatballs, and use oatmeal in place of bread crumbs.
Sometimes making silly names for foods will get your kids to eat just about anything. This Green Monster Smoothie is very popular in our house. I introduced this smoothie on St. Patrick’s Day several years back, and now it is a family favorite. It’s packed full of spinach, bananas and almond milk. My daughter said it looked just like the green slime from Nickelodeon, but tastes just like a banana smoothie.
My kids are better with fruits than vegetables, but they still don’t get their full share. Sure, they love bananas, strawberries and apples, but sometimes getting them to eat other fruits can also be a challenge. I have found that my kids love Frozen Yogurt Covered Blueberries. You can use plain yogurt with honey or vanilla yogurt; both are wonderful.
Let your kids make their own fruit parfaits using their favorite flavored yogurt, fruit and granola. I have found that when children help with meal and food prep, they are much more likely to try whatever it is they are making. These yummy Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits are a great choice.
Last but not least are these Healthy Peanut Butter Balls. I make these at least once a week to pack in my kids’ lunches. My kids, as well as my husband, love these and have no idea that they are packed full of protein, ground flaxseed and wheat germ. I always smile when my kids come home from school and ask me to pack a few extras, because their friends are asking them to share.
I have come to realize that some kids just don’t eat a well-balanced diet, and begging and pleading just doesn’t work. I advise giving up the battle and give into being a little sneaky, because sometimes it’s the only way.
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