AS parents, we pray for many things — that our children will be safe, that they will do well in school and all that they become involved with, and, of course, that we won't have to fight with them about eating their vegetables! The latter is often an uphill battle that lasts well into late childhood, but not to worry, below Nutritionist Donovan Grant shares some tips on how to smuggle vegetables in your children's meals.
Homemade chicken nuggets
Most kids love chicken nuggets, and if you make yours from scratch at home, they are a great way to sneak vegetables into your child's meal. Next time add some finely shredded carrots and broccoli. Mix these into your minced chicken and you will have a healthier, colourful upgrade on your nuggets.
Use veggies to make juices
Children love juice and this is good because it helps to keep them hydrated. What you want to do is increase the number of healthy options that are offered to them. So instead of processed juice boxes, encourage them to consume more home-made options. Find your child's favourite fruit, then include a portion of callaloo and cucumber or kale to the mix, and blend. They won't even be able to taste the difference.
Include veggies in pastry items
A great way to get your children to eat fruits and vegetables is to put them into baked products — whether it may be cakes, cookies or muffins.
Almost every child gets excited about pizza. Fortunately, it is another exciting way to smuggle vegetables into your child's meal. Starting with the dough, instead of a pure flour dough add some shredded cauliflower or callaloo, for example. And if they ask about the difference in colour, just tell them it's your secret ingredient — children love a mystery! When adding the toppings, allow them to choose a favourite topping or two, but be sure to mix in your minced tomatoes, shredded carrots, and even sweet corn.
Sorbets are sweet, delectable frozen desserts that your children are sure to love. Instead of using artificial fruit flavourings as many parents do, what you can do instead is to use vegetables. Some refreshing, delicious vegetable combinations that you can try with your kids are sorrel or carrot and ginger, carrot and beetroot, cucumber and basil, or even a creamy pumpkin sorbet. They are guaranteed to enjoy it. The technique is the same for popsicles.
Try veggies with dips
Many children will have their favourite dips with almost anything, yes, even vegetables. So whether it's applesauce, ketchup, ranch dressing or peanut butter, vegetables serve as perfect finger foods. Children will indulge in vegetables often without noticing because they are so busy enjoying their dips or sauces. So cut carrot sticks, broccoli, or sweet potato wedges and give to them with their favourite dips.
Pasta is a childhood favourite. For your pasta sauce, instead of using the canned version, make your own from scratch by pureeing vegetables. Or if you are going to use a pre-made sauce, you can mix in some pureed vegetables to the sauce and add it to the pasta, along with chicken or other protein. You may also add minced vegetables, broccoli or tomato, for example, but be sure not to add so much that your child will become distracted with getting them out.
With minced meat readily available, it is quite easy to add pureed vegetables to your mixture when seasoning before grilling or baking. You can also add the standard hamburger vegetables such as lettuce and tomato and encourage your child to eat it. If there is any vegetable at all that your child likes, for example, carrots, you can serve it to them on the side.