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How to Hide Vegetables in Everything from Pasta Sauce to Pancakes

July 17, 2020

Picky eaters no matter what their age tend to particularly dislike the color, texture or taste of vegetables. Veggie-avoiders offer a variety of reasons for skipping this nutritious food. From difficulties in preparation to lack of exposure, many struggle to eat vegetables. If this rings true in your family, it may be time to consider a new, albeit sneaky, tactic for incorporating veggies into the menu.  

Pureed Pairings

Vegetables with mild flavors like zucchini, summer squash, cauliflower and carrots form versatile purees and meld into many recipes. Prepare a large batch of pureed veggies and freeze to have on hand for use in an assortment of dishes. The combination of pureed carrots, onions and sweet peppers hides perfectly in spaghetti sauce, soups, stews and chili. 

An easy-to-adapt vegetable, summer squash can be pureed to veggie-boost macaroni and cheese and contribute fiber to a kid-friendly dish. Mashed potatoes, smooth or lumpy, are perfect for hiding other white veggies like cauliflower and turnips. Concealed in the mild yellow color of scrambled eggs, cauliflower also is useful at breakfast time. Another great scrambled-egg surprise? Blend dark green vegetables with whisked eggs, and voila — green eggs and ham!

Updating Family Favorites

You can take tacos up a notch by extending vegetables beyond the role of traditional toppings. Instead, use pureed red peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and green chilies to season taco meat and provide a nutritious flavor lift.

Loaded with vitamin A, pumpkin has a mild flavor that’s easily concealed, making it an ideal candidate for incorporating into recipes without detection. Canned pumpkin adds a creamy consistency to marinara sauce and chili. It also lends itself well to pancakes and adds a fun orange tinge to a breakfast favorite.

The Sweet Cover

Well-known dessert favorites like carrot cake and zucchini bread also serve as examples of how to add veggies to your diet. Keep in mind, these recipes contain sugar and fat, and are meant to taste like dessert, but with an added twist. Veggies on the low down, hidden in the batter, reveal a stealthy and healthier plan for sweet treats.

  • Chocolate in brownies and cakes acts as a good veggie cover, easily hiding spinach, sweet potatoes, squash or carrots. If spinach brownies do not appeal, try mixing in sweet potatoes and turning fudgy goodness into a tasty, antioxidant-filled pleasure. Surprise party goers with chocolate cupcakes laden with squash and carrots. Another great food that lends itself well to bakery goods, beans mix easily in brownies, cakes and cookies. Masked by apples and spices, the pintos in a spice cake provide not only moisture but added protein and fiber to create a bundt cake that fools even the most discerning palates.

  • Smoothies are the perfect disguise for many vegetables, especially deep green kale and spinach. Create a morning treat with green grapes, pineapple and spinach for a sweet-tasting green goddess smoothie. If you’re in the mood for a chocolate shake, add healthy fats by using avocado in a smoothie with cocoa powder and a frozen banana for a creamy, guiltless delight!

  • Frozen desserts, another vehicle for veggie disguise, are a fun way to design new menu additions. Get creative in the kitchen while making veggie-powered popsicles with pineapple and spinach or cucumber and mint. Mix and match colorful fruits, vegetables and spices to experiment with exotic flavors while enhancing your diet with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals!

Finding unique ways to sneak vegetables into your family’s meals can add beneficial nutrients to the menu, but it’s important not to hide all the vegetables. In order to expand what your family willingly eats and reduce picky eating behaviors, make sure to include whole fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, while using hidden veggies as a helper to increase nutrition and meet recommended servings. 


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