If you have ever experienced your child staring at a plate of veggies while giving you the “that is not going in my mouth look,” you are not alone. Since my daughter started with table food, she has struggled with eating in general, but she is particularly picky when it comes to fruits and vegetables. It is so tough to get her to eat things besides her 5-10 food items she has decided are okay. Every day I am faced with the challenge of getting creative with the things she does like and encouraging her to venture out from scrambled eggs and mac n’ cheese and to try new things. At meals, I serve a variety of foods and always include vegetables so she gets used to seeing them on her plate. 99.9% of the time, she completely refuses them. When it comes to fruit, she is a little less picky, but will typically only eat bananas, blueberries and occasionally papaya. I hope and pray that one day this will change, but for now, I’ve come up with some great ways to incorporate more nutrition in to the foods she is willing to eat. Every Sunday night I do prep work for the upcoming week. This includes washing all of the fruits and veggies I bought over the weekend, prepping snacks for the week and making purees that I sneak in to virtually everything I make. Throughout my short time as a mommy, I have come up with some great hidden veggie recipes. I know I cannot possibly be alone in this no fruits and veggies battle, so I have decided to share some on my recipes with you.
Below you will find four recipes including Broccoli and Squash Mac n’ Cheese, Very Veggie Spaghetti (a family favorite and a great way to please picky husbands as well), Hidden Fruit and Veggie Blueberry Pancakes and a Sneaky Mom Sandwich, aka Peanut Butter, Sweet Potato, Banana and Honey Sandwich.
Broccoli & Squash Mac n’ Cheese
1 package elbow macaroni or small shells
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup whole milk (any is fine, I just prefer to do high calorie for my little one)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup broccoli puree
¼ cup butternut squash puree
Prepare the pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium to low. Next add the flour, salt and pepper to make a roux. Stir until smooth and lightly golden in color. Add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 3 minutes or until thickened. Turn heat to low and stir in cheese and both purees.
Drain macaroni. Add to the cheese/veggie mixture; toss to coat. Yield: 4-6 servings
***If a box of mac n’ cheese is easier for you, that will work too. Just add the puree after adding the milk, butter and powdered cheese.
Very Veggie Spaghetti
For the sauce:
1 pound ground beef or turkey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup carrot puree
1 (16 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz.) tomato paste
½ cup dry red wine
½ cup water
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons minced basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Two pinches of cinnamon (trust me, it really deepens the flavor)
For the noodles:
1 package of spaghetti or thin spaghetti noodles
2-3 zucchini (green, yellow or both) cut lengthwise in to noodle like pieces.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onions in olive oil for 4-5 minutes. Next, brown the ground beef or turkey over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and mushrooms, sauté for about 3-4 minutes longer until mushrooms are tender. Add the remaining ingredients, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 45 minutes.
When the sauce is near completion, cook the noodles as directed. Meanwhile, steam the zucchini noodles until tender. You can boil with the noodles, but steaming will keep more nutritional value in the veggie.
You can either toss the sauce and spaghetti together, or serve the sauce on top of the pasta. Yields about 6 servings.
Hidden Fruit & Veggie Blueberry Pancakes
1 cup of whole wheat flour
½ cup bran
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 half sweet potato, peeled and grated
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 apple, peeled and grated
½ banana, mashed
1/2 cup blueberries
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk together. Cook pancakes on a griddle or pan until golden on each side.
*** This can easily be made by following a box pancake recipe and adding the sweet potato, carrot, apple, banana and blueberries. Trader Joes makes a fantastic Multi Grain mix.
The Sneaky Mom Sandwich, aka Peanut Butter, Sweet Potato, Banana and Honey Sandwich
2 slices of whole wheat bread
2 tablespoons sweet potato puree (I have successfully used mashed avocado before as well)
1/4 cup sliced banana2 tablespoons peanut or almond butter
Drizzle of honey
Spread sweet potato puree on one slice of bread and spread peanut butter on the other. Place sliced banana down on the side with the peanut butter. Drizzle with honey, compose sandwich and serve.