As annoying as it is to have your family reject your salads or vegetable side dishes, their refusal to eat more veggies can greatly impact their health over time. Neglecting variety in your diet, in general, can lead to nutritional deficiencies and lead to many chronic conditions. Luckily, this can all be prevented. All you have to do is find a way to make your veggies appetizing. I know, it sounds impossible, right?
Luckily for you, we have found some sneaky ways to hide highly-nutritious veggies in almost anything. Even your pickiest eater will have trouble finding fault with these recipes.
15 Spaghetti Sauce Surprise
Marinara is a wonderful, versatile ingredient for pastas, pizzas, and casseroles. Whether you decide to buy it or make it from scratch, you can easily sneak in some veggies. Most people cringe when they hear the word “beets” and yet they are so good for you. Thankfully, Cooking in Red Socks has created a recipe for spaghetti with beet and sun-dried tomato sauce that is out of this world! Need something more sneaky? You can opt to add pumpkin purée instead, to add more vitamins and minerals without an easily-detected flavor. No one will ever know.
14 Mashed Cauliflower
Cauliflower has a reputation of being stinky. Instead of steaming broccoli and cauliflower to serve to your kids, try having fun with them. You can boil or steam cauliflower, then mash or blend it to make a low-carb mashed potato-less potato. If you think your family will be able to tell the difference, blend half of your normal potato serving with mashed cauliflower.
13 Pumpkin Pancakes
This is one vegetable recipe that needs no hiding. Pumpkin Pancakes! This delicious creation from Martha Stewart is like having pumpkin pie for breakfast! To make it, just add six tablespoons of pumpkin purée to your pancake batter and add cinnamon, ginger, and other warm, fall flavors to the mixture. For the full recipe, check out Martha Stewart's pumpkin pancakes.
12 Cover-Up Cake
Sometimes your sweet tooth needs to be satiated without your dish tasting healthy. Cakes are the perfect example of this, with the exception of carrot cake. You might be surprised to know that you can actually hide beets, one of the most hated vegetables, in a chocolate cake and not even taste it. It's true! Still don't believe me? Well, try this chocolate beet cake with beet cream cheese from Joy the Baker and see for yourself!
11 New Twist on Tots
Tater tots are normally very fattening, but irresistible treats. What if you could trick your family into eating more greens by making low-carb, high-fiber tots instead? Skinny Taste has created a protein-rich zucchini tot recipe that incorporates shredded zucchini, egg, cheese, and breadcrumbs to add flavor with more nutritional punch!
If your kids don't like to see the green from the zucchini, simply peel the skin before grating the zucchini. You can also use grated cauliflower or broccoli for this dish!
10 Veggie Muffins
Just like with tater-less tots, you can grate a variety of vegetables to add to your muffins. Grate zucchini, cauliflower, or carrots to add nutritional variety and color. You can also add purées to your morning muffins, such as pumpkin purée, butternut squash, or sweet potato purée. Add the juice of a beet or carrot as a replacement for heavy cream or bland water.
You can use any of these options to sneak veggies into blueberry muffins, carrot cake muffins, banana nut muffins, or even chocolate muffins!
9 Ground Meat Greens
Ground beef, like doughy batters, can easily hide almost any veggie. Popular choices are peppers, onions, mushrooms, fresh herbs, and spinach. You can also hide beet juice, grated zucchini, sweet potato, butternut squash, or mashed peas. Simply blend the vegetables until they are well combined and barely visible. Form the meat and veggie batter into meatballs or burger patties and cook as you normally would.
They'll be so busy chowing down, they won't realize all the veggies in the delicious sauce.
8 Mac and Cheeky Cheese
Every kid loves mac and cheese! Why not make a classic comfort food into nutritious deliciousness? To make your mac and cheese more creamy, add a few tablespoons of pumpkin purée to your cheese sauce. It thickens it, adds more color, and doesn't take away from the flavor. You can also use a peeled zucchini. Just pulse it in a blender with milk, then heat the zucchini-milk mixture in a pot with cheese and seasoning. Pour over pasta and ta-da! You can also shred cauliflower florets and hide it among the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumb topping. Mmm!
7 Wholesome Crusts
If you or any of your family members are counting calories or trying to lose weight, you can have your pizza pie and eat it too with these recipes. No more removing the crust—you can indulge and be nourished instead of sluggish with these handy crust tricks. If you are craving pizza, you can grate one head of cauliflower and blend with an egg and Parmesan cheese for a delicious, protein-rich crust.
Want a bread-like crust without the guilt? Use less flour by replacing some of it with an egg and shredded zucchini! It'll be more nutrient-dense, but still have the doughy consistency we have learned to love!
6 Sneaky Smoothies
Smoothies are super quick meals that can either fuel our bodies or overwhelm them with sugar. If you blend dates, bananas, or apple sauce, to sweeten your smoothie instead of refined sugar, your sweet refreshment won't be followed by a hardcore sugar crash. To make your smoothies even more healthy, experiment with flavors by adding some refreshing, peeled cucumbers, spinach, pumpkin purée, butternut squash, carrots, kale, or sweet potatoes to your smoothie. If you think it'll be nasty, try some of the green juices or smoothies on the market. They'll turn you into a believer for sure!
5 Eggplant Pizzas
Is a handmade crust too time-consuming? Why not replace crust altogether with a single, simple ingredient: eggplant. If you slice your eggplant into rounds, they look like miniature pizzas! It's a great way to get kids to cut carbs and calories and pack in more nutrition in their pizzas. Always rinse your veggies. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush your eggplant with olive oil and top with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Line a baking sheet with the eggplant slices and pop in the oven for 15 minutes. Top them with your favorite pizza flavors and pop them back in the oven for 3-5 minutes. These bite-sized pizzas are so much better for you and your kids will love them, too!
4 Cauliflower Cheese Sticks
Why not pair your low-carb pizza with a low-carb cheesy bread? Yep, you read correctly. You can actually enjoy a guilt-free cheese bread that is packed full of minerals your body needs. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cut the florets off of one head of cauliflower and chop them into chunks. Dice them in your food processor into a rice-like consistency. Pour the cauliflower into a bowl and microwave for ten minutes. Then add four eggs, two cups of mozzarella, four cloves of minced garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and pour into two baking pans. Bake for 25 minutes. Then top with more cheese and bake for an additional five minutes to melt the cheese.
Let's admit it: kids love cheese! Out of all of these, your kid will probably enjoy this side dish most of all. The best part is that it is packed with protein and minerals and is completely grain-free!
3 Cauliflower Rice
Another recipe that can help you replace carbs and eat more veggies is this yummy side dish. Who needs rice when you can have a light and nutritious cauliflower rice dish that can easily fool your kids? While many cauliflower rice recipes are so bland that it's difficult to pass off the cauliflower as rice, this dish has a lot of Asian flavor and is so good for you!
Chop the florets of one cauliflower into tiny pieces. Pulse the chunks in a food processor until the pieces turn into tiny, rice-like granules. Toss with vegetables of your choosing. Add eggs or tofu if you like. Then toss the mixture with soy sauce to taste. You can eat it as is or fry it on a stove to soften the cauliflower and other veggies. It's versatile enough and light enough to be a healthy lunch or side dish!
2 Zucchini Noodles
Zucchini noodles have really shined recently as an affordable, low-carb alternative to pasta. If lightly cooked, it really has a pasta-like texture and goes well with all sorts of flavors. You can even eat them raw with a simple sauce or seasoning! No longer will you have to wait for a giant pot to boil and twenty minutes to pass before your family can have a delicious supper. Now you can have a quick, easy, and nutritious dinner that your whole family will love!
To make zoodles, you will need to magically turn your zucchinis into strands with a spiralizer. You can buy a big spiralizer that makes zucchini noodles within seconds, or you can purchase a more affordable handheld noodle-maker. You can even make zucchini noodles, or zoodles, with just a peeler. The strands might be a little thicker, but it will still taste amazing. Some peelers come with comb-like blades that allow you to make perfect strands as simply as you would peel a potato. If you don't want your kids to see the green peel, then peel your zucchini before making noodles.
Regardless of what method you choose, once you've made your noodles, just toss it in olive oil over medium heat with garlic, onions, or any other flavors you'd like. Then add a sauce or some seasoning and you've got a light, refreshing pasta-less pasta!
1 Spinach Pesto Sauce
You know what would go perfectly with your zoodles? Pesto! It's such a versatile sauce that is super cheesy and full of flavor. This Mediterranean favorite can be made into a sauce, a thick dip, or a dressing for salads, veggies, or potatoes. Since pesto is already green, sneak in some spinach! Here's how.
In a food processor, pulse 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts with 3/4 cup of basil and 1 1/2 cup spinach, adding olive oil as you pulse to smooth it out. Add as much or as little olive oil as you want. Add four cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest, and 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese to the mixture. Continue pulsing until smooth.
Now all you need to do is add salt and pepper to taste and decide what to do with it. You can stuff ravioli with it or pour it over ravioli and pasta. Dip potato wedges, pita chips, or veggies into it. You can even use it as a base for a savory Italian-style soup.
The beauty of neutral-flavored vegetables is that they can be hidden into almost anything. Bright-colored veggies can be used to add beauty to food, such as spinach pulsed with eggs for a Green Eggs and Ham dish or rose-colored beet juice in a vanilla cake. As you begin to play with healthy ingredients, you will continue to discover new ways to use them. You'll be a pro in no time!
Sources: WebMD.com, EverydayFamily.com, WhatToExpect.com, EatingWell.com, Blendtec.com, ThrivingHomeBlog.com, WholeFoodsMarket.com, GavanMurphy.com, CookingInRedSocks.com, MarthaStewart.com, JoyTheBaker.com, ThrivingHomeBlog.com, SimplyRecipes.com, MinimalistBaker.com, SkinnyTaste.com, NaiveCookCooks.com, BHG.com, Inhabitots.com, VegetarianTimes.com, Closetcooking.com, Jocooks.com, Allrecipes.com, Allrecipes.com