healthy kids meal

Need to know how to get kids to eat vegetables? It can be easier than you think.

When transitioning to a healthier diet full of fresh fruits and veggies, the process may seem daunting and, oftentimes, boring. If your palate or that of your child is used to calorically-dense, nutritionally-low processed foods, it will take some time before vegetables become an appealing base to a meal. All it takes is a little time and a few clever tips to reclaim your health and learn to love healthy recipes. There is no need to make a meal out of a plate full of raw carrot sticks or to force a green smoothie into your diet – take it easy! Here’s how to get kids to eat vegetables without even knowing it.

1. Pasta Sauce

There are few among us who don’t adore pasta. It’s often a child’s favorite meal – to say nothing of it being relatively foolproof to put together. You may not want to part way with the carbs and creamy sauce just yet, but you can most certainly make a few alterations so a pasta meal is more than just delicious, and actually nutritious!

First, make sure to purchase a ready-made tomato sauce that has absolutely no sugar added – there are many brands that do not add sugar, so be sure to turn the bottle and scan the ingredients’ list. The noodles should also be whole-wheat or of a gluten-free variety. While the noodles are boiling, add a cup of chopped tougher vegetables, like carrot, green bean, celery, onion, zucchini and/or squash, to the boiling water. By the time the noodles are done, so too are the vegetables. Strain the mixture and mix into the tomato sauce.

2. Casseroles

Casserole dishes are wonderful in that, when finished, they serve a family of four efficiently and with a high level of satisfaction. However, most casseroles are often swimming in cheese, noodles and other suspect ingredients. Balance the bad with the good by adding a cup of just one or a mixture of shredded zucchini, chopped spinach, squash and/or carrots to the ingredients list.

3. Chips

The ultimate snack, chips, just got a new face. There are many brands out there that are now making many baked and/or vegetable chips. Scan the chips aisle or health section of your local grocery for these brands. Kale chips are also quite common and you are sure to find one in a grocer near you. Or, you can simply make your own!

4. Muffins

Dust your juicer off and benefit from fresh fruit and vegetable juices without wasting the pulp! The pulp is where the plant fiber is held, and instead of tossing it, or even adding it to compost, use it for the benefit of yourself and your family. The pulp is slightly moist and carries the fiber and bulk that complement baked goods wonderfully. You can add some to a cake, bread or muffin recipe. The veggie taste from the pulp is cut by the other ingredients and the baking process, so you don’t even realize the vegetable powerhouse offered by each bite. Here are some of the delicious recipes I came across, posted by reliable food bloggers:

5. Meat

Rather, no meat. Dense veggies like eggplant and mushrooms replace meat quite well, almost seamlessly in recipes that call for a ground beef-based sauce (i.e. sloppy joe’s, pasta sauce, lasagna filling, hamburgers, wrap fillings, etc.). I like to season and grill Portobello mushrooms and enjoy them as a patty in my “hamburger”. I also often chop up eggplants finely,  season liberally and then cook them until they are slightly browned and soft. Then, I use this “ground meat” in wraps and in pasta sauces. The possibilities are endless. The trick is in mimicking the spices that are often added to meat recipes and using similar cooking techniques to get that charred, grilled or smoked taste.

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Photo Credit: Mr.TinDC