I know I’m not alone here in having issues with The Littlies eating their veggies and so I thought it about time I blogged specifically on this dear to my heart topic. As my son get’s older he’s becoming increasingly wary of vegetables which can more than frustrating at times. Like most babies he started off the weaning process eating pretty much all the good stuff thrown at him, but particularly loving a huge array of veggies whether they were steamed, raw or his favourite roasted. Then suddenly from about the age of 18 months onwards he’s steadily rejected all the previous favourites one by one and now at just over two he’ll only eat broccoli, peas and sweetcorn on their own. Admittedly at least he’s eating some veggies, but I’d rather it was a greater variety and in my quest to bring diversity I’ve had to become increasingly more cunning in my disguise of his veggies. And you know what, it’s not that hard to defeat these toddlers!
Thankfully, my daughter, who’s now nearing four, is a little easier on the veggie war. Admittedly she’s not the most enthusiastic eater in the world and is no natural foodie but with encouragement (and admittedly often a fair degree of good old blackmail) she’ll eat quite a few veggies these days.
So here’s our favourite veggie disguises of the moment, the ones most popular with my monsters that no matter what veggies I put in they’ll gobble them up leaving me with a happy glow of satisfaction that they’ve effortlessly reached their five-a-day. As a general rule of thumb dice the veggies finer the greater the fear of rejection
In order of popularity in the Chez Foti house:
Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice
Absolutely without a doubt Jacques’s favourite dinner which can be loaded with an amazing array of finely diced veggies under the brilliantly disguising flavours of ginger, Chinese 5 spice and soy sauce. He rarely has less than two big bowls! I make this at least once a week, often just with egg and veggies and at other times substituting the chicken for prawns, pork or beef (and all go down equally as well).
My super vegged up version of a classic Bolognese sauce always goes down a storm with both kids and has the added convenience of being able to be made in large quantities that can be frozen in individual portions for easy convenience dinners.
Ironically both my kids prefer these to the Sunday dinner that would have preceded them a day or two before! Especially Jacques who will have undoubtedly refused to eat any of the veggies on his Sunday dinner plate but once I’ve chopped and mixed all the leftovers up, formed them in a patty, crumb coated and shallow fried he’ll always eat at least two whoppers!
Kids 5-a-day Pasta Sauce
Another popular choice that can be handily frozen for a quickie last minute dinner. Both kids adore it, creamy and tomatoey and hides an umpteen of blitzed up veggies in it’s midst. Can even be pimped up with the addition of tuna at the end of the cooking process. Be generous with the pasta-sauce ratio to ensure they get a fair bit of the good stuff, and top with cheesy sprinkles.
Just like the 5-a-day pasta sauce my kids will eat any veggies blitzed into a soup just as long as the overriding flavour is a good one! My winter Squash & Chorizo and Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup’s were always a hit as is my recent Cream of Veggie Super Soup. Don’t be put off by the seasons, kids will eat soup whatever the weather.
Omelettes and Tortillas. In writing this I’ve realised that in all this time I’ve not blogged a single omelette or tortilla recipe yet we easily eat them once a week and are one of Jacques’ fave lunches. I always pile the veg in mine and he’s yet to pick out the pepper, courgette, spinach or chard that he’d normally reject. My Bejewelled Eggs are also always a hit.
Another highly flavoured and popular dinner that I can even get away with sizeable veggies without any rejection fear.
Super-Vegged Up Chilli
A recent hit with my kids is this child friendly chilli con carne that’s been given a Chez Foti super-vegging up! Perfect to be made in large quantities and frozen.
Most kids love fish pie and you can really veg it up as much as you dare. I always use spinach and peas, but have often added finely diced carrots, leeks, broccoli, chard and sweetcorn too.
And last but not least there’s always Sandwiches!. Try adding a little finely chopped salad to your child’s favourite sandwich filling and they probably won’t notice and even if they do they won’t be able to pick it out. Crated carrot or finely chopped red pepper works wonders in cheese or hummus sandwiches, or cheese and hummus sandwiches. Finely chopped tomatoes and cucumber with egg, pepper, sweetcorn and/or sweetcorn in tuna mayo, cucumber….be inventive they might just like it!.
Here’s a few other child friendly whoppers of veggie disguise: Chicken & Apricot Tagine, Lou’s Lasagne, Sweet Potato Daal for Babies & Toddlers, Sausage & Courgette Pasta Carbonara, A Simple Chicken Stew, Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese, Roasted Veggie Lasagne
So what cunning methods do you deploy in your mission of veggie disguise? What are you own tried and trusted recipes of deception? I’d really love to hear from you as I’m always looking for new ideas and inspiration. Feel free to link up your favourites!
June 25th, 2012 at 9:32 pm
Love your veggie disguising tips. My motto is usually ‘smother them with cheese’. So homemade pizzas can hide a myriad a finely diced veg, mac & cheese can smuggle cauliflower & potato puree. I also make red ‘pesto’ from peppers & add steamed broccoli when making my green ‘pesto’. Enough Parmesan & basil hide any veg!
June 26th, 2012 at 12:18 pm
Yep, cheese always works wonders with mine too, they’re both cheesie fiends which can come in handy!. However annoyingly, and strangely, neither of them are big on pizza. Jacques will eat it at a push if he’s really hungry and Francesca just looks horrified at the idea….although she loves making them with me, helping with the dough and putting the toppings on! Mac & Cheese generally good with Jacques and I can throw anything in, but Little Miss F doesn’t like cheese or white sauces :(. Homemade red and green pestos made with blitzed veggies sound like a fab idea – definitely going to try them both! Thanks!
June 25th, 2012 at 9:41 pm
Some great tips here! I can usually smuggle a whole host of veggies into soups, casseroles and pasta sauces, as well as pizza toppings like Blue Bird above. My oldest usually eats anything I throw at her but my youngest, the four-year-old, can get quite stubborn about food. But I generally find if she’s been involved in cooking (or better still, picking) the vegetables then she’s much more likely to actually eat them. And if all else fails, out comes the tomato ketchup 😉
June 26th, 2012 at 12:33 pm
Soups, casseroles and pasta sauces are staple fodder in our house, and luckily they both always like them. As for Blue Bird pizza is not too popular amongst the littlies in our house, which I find totally weird….especially as we have a fabulous original bread oven in the house that makes the best pizzas ever! We have pizzas about once a week in the winter (too hot in the summer to light it up) and usually make it sociable by inviting friends and their littlies around too (who all love our homemade Chez Foti pizzas) – and they still aren’t tempted!
As they’re getting older there’s definitely more interest in the veggie patch so I’m reckoning that helping to sow & plant, watering and picking their own veggies is the way to go. It’s a mad rush to grab all the peas, strawberries & raspberries at the minute!.
June 26th, 2012 at 10:42 am
I love this idea of sharing ideas about veggies and how to get ids to eat them. You should add a link tool so we can all see and share them!
The way I got my kids to eat mushrooms was to let them chop and decorate their own pizzas with them. You have a great collection of ideas here! :))x
June 26th, 2012 at 12:35 pm
Thanks Laura, you’re right I should get a linky tool so people can share, that would be fun. As per previous comments pizzas unfortunately not an option for us :-((