How To Get More Vegetables Into Your Kids
Just why is it that when children go through a period of fussy eating, it’s always the food that’s good for them that they take a disliking to? It’s almost unheard of for a picky toddler to restrict their diet to a colourful selection of fruit and vegetables, often opting instead for an array of beige options.
The good news is that while almost all kids go through a stage of only eating their favourite and not necessarily particularly healthy foods, they usually grow out of it soon enough. In the meantime, there are some simple ways you can sneak extra veggies into their food without them noticing. Blending vegetables into tasty sauces is an ideal way to overcome any textural issues and you can often hide the colour so they’ll never spot the tell-tale green they seem to have an inbuilt aversion to!
Here are some easy wins:
1. Make your own ketchup
Ketchup is a firm favourite with children but most shop-bought ketchups have added sugar and salt. If your child is going through a ‘chips with everything’ stage, whipping up a homemade ketchup can be a better option.
Try experimenting with cooked tinned tomatoes (check the ingredients for no added sugar) and onions, blended with a little olive oil and garlic. To up the veggie content, you can try blitzing some celery into it too. If you want to add a little extra sweetness, you could try a drizzle of honey – but remember, honey is only suitable for children over the age of one.
2. Hidden-veggie pasta sauces
Even if they’re adamant that spirally fusilli definitely tastes better than boring old spaghetti, pasta is usually a winner with most kids. And being creative with a classic tomato sauce can be ideal for adding some extra vitamins and minerals.
‘Slimy’ textured vegetables such as mushrooms or soft, ‘mushy’ types like courgettes often feature high on children’s rejects list, and the dark green of leafy veg like spinach is a sure-fire turn-off for many. However, as these vegetables do not have a particularly strong flavour, by cooking them into the sauce and then blending it, they become almost undetectable. The red of the tomatoes is usually strong enough to hide any green colours, too.
3. Cheesy dip
The smooth texture and mild flavour of cream cheese makes it a great choice for dips for kids, and will go with everything from breadsticks, chips and vegetable batons. Try blending with a little beetroot for an enticing pinky/purply colour. Or a dollop of homemade ketchup can make it more flavoursome.
4. Liven up mashed potato
Yes, mashed potato is either a love it/hate it food for most children but stick with us here! Often, it’s the occasional lumps that make it unpalatable so running it through a blender is a great idea in any case, to make a silky-smooth texture.
But if you also want to add some vegetables, try blending it with cooked cauliflower. As it won’t change the colour, they’ll never know! Top tip – use fresh cauliflower – frozen tends to hold more water and can give the mashed potato an unpleasant, watery texture.
5. Use a good quality blender!
The key to creating all these dips and sauces is a good quality blender. If you’re creating small quantities and just want to blitz a dip or sauce as you go, a hand blender is a good choice. If blending the recipe in the cooking pan, just be sure that the sauce is deep enough to cover the blades (no one wants a sauce-splattered kitchen) and not too hot to avoid burns caused by splashes. Many of our hand blenders also come with jugs which sauces can be decanted into for blending.
For batch cooking, a large counter-top blender is great for whipping up bigger portions which can be frozen. Check out our huge range of options.