The Vegetable Dilemma: Tips, Tricks & Recipes

Have a toddler who won’t eat their vegetables? Or, more likely, have a husband who won’t eat their vegetables? Need some new ideas on sneaking those healthy foods into their diet?

This is for you. Because I’ve been there – I’m still there!  Here are some vegetable tips I’ve learned so far:

The Vegetable Dilemma: Tips, Tricks & Recipes

Be mindful of your facial expression when you give your child a new food.

“You don’t like the (insert vegetable here)? Is it gross?” Yes, we all say that with a disgusted look on our face when we hand our kids veggies. So much of what we do and say influences our kids, but we tend to forget that some times. I realized my daughter would eat anything as long as I smiled and showed her it wasn’t bad (which even means putting whatever it is in my mouth at times). Because really, there isn’t anything wrong with a pea or any kind of vegetable. I consciously have to choose to take my opinion out of the equation when introducing new foods. You’d be surprised what they’ll eat if your facial expressions and opinions aren’t involved.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Even if you think they won’t like it, just put it down in front of them. I’m pleasantly surprised a lot of the time. Whatever I put on my plate goes on hers. Also, it’s helpful for me to give her multiple chances to decide if she likes something or not. I always offer it, and usually one day she’ll decide to start eating it. Let’s be honest, I still consider it a miracle when this happens!

Don’t give up!

You might feel like you’re fighting a losing battle, but just stick with it! In the meantime…

Here are some great recipes for hiding vegetables:

Spinach Pancakes

Recipe adapted from Weelicious.

I will warn you, these are VERY green, so for older kids you might have to get a bit creative about explaining why they are. I’ve heard moms call them “hulk pancakes” or just say they’ve used green food coloring in them to make it more fun. Admittedly, I was skeptical at first, so I tweaked the recipe a bit to disguise the spinach even more (even though I don’t think it makes that much of a difference).

The Vegetable Dilemma: Tips, Tricks & Recipes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or sour milk*)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

*Sour milk is made pouring 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar into a measuring cup, then fill the rest up with milk. Let sit for 5 min and milk will sour. Use in place of buttermilk in almost any recipe.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a blender, combine the spinach, buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and oil. Blend until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients.
  3. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. 
  4. Heat a large pan or griddle over medium heat and grease lightly with butter or oil.
  5. Pour about 1/4 cup of the pancake mixture onto the griddle, making as many pancakes as will fit and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Flip the pancakes and cook for one minute longer and serve.

Makes 12-14 pancakes (depending on size)

Carrot French Fries

Recipe adapted from 2Teaspoons.

Fair warning, this will heat up your house because they need to be baked at a high temperature. These can be cooked in a skillet or steamer on the stove top, they just aren’t quite as crispy. Only a couple of adjustments to this recipe: I use less oil than 1 Tbsp—just enough to get each carrot stick a little wet. I also use any kind of oil I have on hand. Additionally, I find it best to line the baking tray with foil and spray with non-stick spray to prevent any sticking, and it makes for easy clean up!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Peel and slice carrots into french fry shaped pieces (about ½” x ½” x 3”). Toss carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange carrots in a single layer on baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes then flip each carrot fry. Continue to bake until fully cooked and slightly crispy, about an additional 10 minutes.

Apple-Carrot Muffins

Recipe adapted from Whole Foods Market.

Add two points for mom because this recipe includes a fruit AND a vegetable! These do taste the most “healthy” out of the three recipes, but they are still good nonetheless! I swapped out the applesauce for a freshly grated apple. Also, I didn’t bother peeling it, hence the darker specs in the muffins pictured below. Bonus, you’ll burn all the calories from each muffin you eat just by grating the carrots and apples for the recipe!

The Vegetable Dilemma: Tips, Tricks & Recipes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large carrots, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium apple, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 12-cup standard muffin tin or use muffin papers. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine carrots, apples, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.
  4. Add half the carrot mixture to the flour mixture, stir until blended then add the rest of the carrot mixture.
  5. Spoon batter into muffin cups (about 1/4 cup of batter per muffin) and bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

What are your tips for getting your kids to eat vegetables?

Share in the comments!


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