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Sneak Veggies into Your Children's Meals with These 10 Tricks

Let’s be honest, it’s a fact that many of us don’t eat as well as we should on a daily basis, or for that matter, follow the guidelines set out by expert nutritionists for optimal health. I for one, am quite guilty of not eating as well as I ought to, and I chalk it up to sheer lack of effort, and a case of not using my imagination in the kitchen. As much as I love the television show MasterChef, I’ll never be one!

My lack of eating “from the earth” as they say is not at all because I resist eating vegetables, in fact, I am a pescatarian and vegetables make up (or should make up) a big part of my diet. The reality is that I tend to go the quick and easy carb route a lot of the time when I am in a rush or very hungry. But when I make the attempt to prepare and partake in a nutritional meal, I am happier and feel better for it.

The truth is, we know how we should be eating, and indeed the benefits of a healthy diet are many, so of course like me, you want your children to feel as best they can and at the top of their game, too. When it comes to our kids though, they often do resist the consumption of vegetables, and it can take a lot of imagination (here we go) to get them to savor a meal which is mainly veggies, and very little chicken nuggets.

I bet you and I are in agreement here on the topic of vegetables and how much good they do for all members of the family, and because of that, I’ve done some research on 10 of the top veggies one can savor. I have also compiled some great information on how to make those greens (and oranges and yellows) easily find their way onto our plates in such a way that both kids and adults alike will be happy to consume.

9 Squash

My research has taught me that squash is packed with way more nutrients than I knew. For a fact, the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of magnesium, for example, is 28% of what you need, found in just one cup of acorn squash.

Along with the nutritional punch, comes choice. For one, acorn squash is loaded with fiber and the skin is edible. Perfect for roasting, the flavor is amazing. Butternut squash is power packed with vitamins A and C, and pairs well with cinnamon. You may get your kids to try it cubed and baked if you let them season it themselves with a bit of the spice.

Summer squash is delicious too, but most flavorful when harvested early, as a vegetable small in size. Try this fabulous recipe from superhealthykids.com; they have incorporated summer squash splendidly into this recipe of hidden veggie mac and cheese. Your kids may just put this dish on their list of go-to requests.

8 Zucchini

To me, a zucchini was always a zucchini, but I have learned that this vegetable is also considered a summer squash. High in vitamin C, zucchini can be eaten raw right out of the garden or lightly sautéed, and also works fabulously in a cold salad, shredded on top.

This tasty veggie has some top notch ingredients, like folate (great for moms-to-be) and potassium (good for our heart rate and blood pressure). Zucchini may not look that appetizing to kids, but hidden in chocolate breakfast muffins, they will never know they are there. This recipe is courtesy of mybakingaddiction.com.

7 Carrots

Kids usually like carrots; the bright color and the crunching factor make them pleasing to the eye and the tastebuds. But there are little ones though who won’t eat them simply because they know they are a vegetable.

For small children who may not be quite ready for the crunchy bite of a carrot, alternative ways to present them may be needed. A fun fact about carrots is that red, yellow and purple were the only colors cultivated in early century farming; it is strange now, that as grocery store shoppers, we most typically eat the orange variety.

Carrots have a multitude of nutritional benefits packed in every bite and are great for our cardiovascular health. Food.com has a super recipe for hiding carrots; blend them into the toddler hidden veggie smoothy which is also full of calcium and fantastically full of flavor.

6 Spinach

This is another super food for pregnant women, and for other members of the family who will benefit from the folate and vitamins found in this veggie. One serving can provide almost double the amount of vitamin K a person needs on a daily basis.

It’s been proven that vitamin K builds the strong bones that our kids need to develop as they mature, and for adults, the proper process of blood coagulation as well as adequate wound healing are benefits we gain from eating plenty of this vitamin.

How to sneak it in? Try this kid-friendly bread, nutrient packed and delicious, courtesy of recipe4living.com.

5 Broccoli

This bright green vegetable is often one of the easier ones to get children to eat, right alongside carrots. Broccoli “trees” smothered in cheese are a pretty tasty part of a good meal, and most kids are pretty relaxed when they see it on their plate. For those that aren’t so calm about it, you can hide it in pizza paninis, a favorite sandwich with many munchkins.

Broccoli is great for the immune system and is full of fiber and antioxidants.

4 Black Beans

You’re right - black beans are not a vegetable. They are a legume for a fact, but if one is looking for easy, wonderful ways to sneak nutrition into our kids food in a way that will have them asking for more, black bean brownies absolutely have to be included in the mix.

Black beans are chock full of fiber, calcium, copper, magnesium, and protein. It is known as well that they benefit the heart, lower blood pressure and are great energy boosters. I am a lover of chocolate and all things dessert as are many of our kids. Chocolatecoveredkatie.com has a delicious flour free black bean brownie recipe that I personally cannot wait to try.

3 Avocado

Another non vegetable that I just could not leave out of this healthy living list is the yummy avocado. I eat them as a meal with nothing else, sometimes a with a little salsa mixed in, but for kids who have not yet learned to love this fruit which is full of heart healthy, good for us fat, there are ingenious ways to hide it in yummy foods.

Try this sneaky snack from itbakesmehappy.com, easy to make and easy to like are these chocolate avocado pudding pops

2 Kale

Modernparentsmessykids.com has the ultimate kale chip recipe; the author enthusiastically lets us know that her kids munch the chips up before she can even prepare a second batch or get a taste of them herself. Ingenious also is the fact that her wee ones can munch on them as they please before dinner as she makes the main meal. This recipe may just change your kid’s outlook on kale.

Kale is a powerhouse of iron and vitamin C, but the biggest boost our kids can get is vitamin K. For a fact, a cupful of kale provides 88% of our RDA. Like avocado, kale is wonderful for the skin, and it also fights against diseases of an ocular nature. 

1 Peas

Last but not least is the lowly pea. Peas have been around forever, and the excitement of including them in a meal has kind of been lost in the list of new superfoods on the market shelves.

Peas are full of folic acid, making them a good nutritional choice for moms-to-be who want to prevent neural tube defects in their newborns. As far as our families go, peas have oodles of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which help us build healthy bodies.

Peas have a way of making their way into many dishes and tomato sauce is just one of them. Myrecipes.com inspires with a simple, yet savory recipe for pasta with creamy tomato sauce and peas.

If you have any secret ways to include veggies in your dishes, comment and pass them along!

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