Despite the best attempts of parents, sometimes we lose on the battlefield of veggie consumption and the kids simply refuse. There’s always begging, pleading, threatening and bribery to resort to in this scenario, but I like to be non-confrontational when it comes to things like dinner.
That’s why I disguise those healthy little buggers and trick my kids into eating them and, amazingly, even LIKING them. Rather than put a plate of grilled chicken breast and steamed cauliflower in front of them, I craft a dish that includes the veggie of choice but hides it from the keen eye of the picky eater.
There are a few ways to go about this best-interest trickery. The first method is, chop it up super fine and add it to an already loved dish. This works with things like meatloaf or spaghetti. If your kids are like mine though, they’ll find those nearly microscopic bits of different color, recognize them as healthy and promptly eat around them. In that event, try pureeing cooked vegetables and adding them to a sauce.
Examples of this type of meal magic would be pureeing zucchini and carrots and adding that puree to spaghetti sauce or pureeing carrots and cauliflower and adding them to macaroni and cheese. It is even possible to add things like pureed squash or sweet potatoes to dishes, even sweets like brownies (sounds unappealing, but I’ve tried it and it isn’t half bad).
A final suggestion is to use vegetables which resemble closely in color and texture other elements of the dish, and use a sauce to mix everything in such a way as to make the vegetable nearly undetectable. Cooked cauliflower and noodles are a great combination for this as well as stringed zucchini or carrots and noodles, finely chopped mushrooms and cooked brown rice and cooked cauliflower and mashed potatoes.
Below is a recipe I used earlier in the week to disguise cauliflower, a vegetable my six year-old normally detests. Not only did she not realize it was in the dish, but she declared it one of her favorites and requested I make it again. No problem kid, no problem. Mission accomplished.
Veggie-Hiding Cheesy Chicken Pasta
Prep Time: under 10 min
Cook Time: under 20 min
Serves: four with leftovers
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 12 oz bag of No-Yolk egg noodles
- 1 1 lb bag of frozen cauliflower
- ½ stick butter
- 6 oz Velveeta (use 8 oz for extra cheesiness)
- In pot, bring water to boil. Add chicken. Allow to cook for 5 min.
- Add pasta, boil for an additional 5 min.
- Add cauliflower, boil for additional 5 min.
- Strain, return to pot and add diced Velveeta and butter. Stir until well incorporated.
- Salt to taste and serve.