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Veggies in disguise

20 Mar 2013

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Do you feel like a broken record asking your kids to eat their vegetables every night? Change your tune by trying these tips to ensure veggies go into their tummies and not on the floor (or up their nose!).

The flavour of many vegetables can often be overpowering or bitter for little tastebuds, and their texture stringy and chewy. Instead of simply steaming or baking veggies, why not combine them with other flavours and ingredients, like cheese or garlic, to make them more palatable? There’s also nothing wrong with disguising the presence of veggies in other foods from time to time, as long as those foods are not “sometimes” foods, like cakes.

Smart veggie ideas

  • Grate carrot or zucchini and add to meatballs, sausage roll mix or bolognese. And go even further by adding a layer of spinach to lasagne.
  • When cooking pasta for macaroni cheese, add a few pieces of carrot, broccoli or cauliflower to the boiling pasta pot for the last five minutes then bake it all together, as you would in this recipe for vegetable macaroni and cheese. White cheese sauce is a delicious camouflage! The same idea applies to mashed potato – add cauliflower or parsnip to the boil and mash together.
  • Turn plain pikelets into veggie pikelets by adding grated zucchini, chopped spring onion, creamed corn and grated cheese. Encourage the kids to help with the mixing – getting children involved is a fabulous way to create excitement about eating the finished product!
  • One food most kids will eat is chips, so why not oven-bake your own with thinly sliced sweet potato, pumpkin or carrot? Simply spray lightly with oil then bake at 200°C until crisp.
  • Make vegetables fun – create a funny face on your child’s plate with peas for eyes and a nose, broccoli for hair and strips of carrot for a mouth. If you can, grow a few veggies in your garden or in pots on your veranda or balcony. What’s not to love about teaching children how food reaches our table and helping them feel proud about growing their own food?

Persistence and variety is the key when trying to find healthy foods that your children will love. Just remember to not be too insistent – children will eventually come around to liking vegetables, but it’s not going to happen if we make it an unpleasant part of dinner every night.