Everyone needs fruit and vegetables as part of an ongoing balanced diet, and kids are certainly no exception. The trouble is, children can be notoriously picky eaters and sometimes spurn the nutritious meals you set before them. You don’t want to fall back on junk food or cut out the veggies entirely, but at the same time it’s important to make sure that they enjoy their food. The solution? Sneak in more vegetables using the simple tips and tricks below!
1. Sneaky Spaghetti
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Most kids love pasta, so why not take the opportunity to squeeze a few vegetables into a basic sauce? Cook 2 onions and 4 cloves of garlic in olive oil until they are soft. Add in 1 can of whole tomatoes, a pinch of oregano and a few finely-chopped carrots, zucchini and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper, stirring in a couple of handfuls of spinach toward the end before serving with wholewheat spaghetti.
Health benefits: Carrots and bell peppers are high in Vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision.
2. Make A Kale Smoothie
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Kids will love the bright green colour of this super-healthy smoothie. It’s so simple that they can help in the making process too!
Blend together 1/2 coconut milk, 1 ripe banana, 2 cups chopped pineapple, and 2 cups chopped kale in a blender until smooth. Additional water can be included to ensure a smooth consistency.
Health benefits: Kale is high in iron, which is essential for healthy blood cell development.
3. Potato Gratin With A Broccoli Twist
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Spread 1 large broccoli and 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets, on a baking dish. Combine 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cream, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, 2 cups Gruyere cheese and 3/4 cup Emmentaler cheese and cook over a medium heat until the mixture reaches a smooth, thick texture. Pour this over the cauliflower and broccoli. Lightly sprinkle with Parmesan before baking at 350°C for 40-50 minutes.
Health benefits: Broccoli contains Vitamin C, essential for a heathy immune system. Cauliflower is a healthy, low-fat, low-carbohydrate alternative to rice and potatoes.
4. Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
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Butternut squash has a sweet flavour and soft texture, which often appeals to children. Make it the basis for a salad with this simple recipe. Slice 1 large butternut squash, a few red onions and a couple of peaches. Drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 350°C for 15-20 minutes. Arrange the squash on a plate before garnishing it with feta cheese and the remaining roasted components. Add a few fresh salad leaves for additional flavour.
Health benefits: Butternut squash is high in fiber, essential for healthy bowel functioning.
5. If In Doubt, Soup It!
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Soften 1/2 cup celery, 1/2 cup onions and 3 cloves of garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring. Stir in 1 can of tomatoes, 2 cups of vegetable broth, pepper, salt, and a pinch of sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, take the pan off the stove and add 2 cups of cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon of butter, and 1/4 cup evaporated milk.
Health benefits: This soup contains high amounts of lycopene, an antioxidant which can improve the skin’s ability to handle UV rays. This may, in turn, reduce skin damage and the risk of premature ageing.
6. Get Dipping
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Take 1 cup of soft cream cheese and stir in a dash of salt, a pinch of red pepper, 1 teaspoon of garlic, 1 cup spinach, 2 cups artichoke hearts, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, and 1/4 cup sour cream. Serve on crackers or bread.
Health benefits: Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin K, which aids in maintaining healthy bones and blood. Artichoke is high in fiber.
Featured photo credit: Chip Griffin/Flickr via flickr.com