Food battles can be epic. They can also slowly drain a parent’s will to make sure their child eats well. Here, a few parents share their tried-and-true ideas for sneaking fruit, vegetables and other healthy foods into snacks and meals for their picky eater.
An egg-cellent disguise
“It’s not all that clandestine, but I put mashed veggies in my son’s scrambled eggs in the morning. I’ve done cauliflower, squash, and broccoli (not all together) — he seemed to like the added texture and eats it regularly. I also tried bell pepper strips, but those totally bombed. For the record, I’d encourage people to add extra-yummy stuff too. I add lemon ricotta to the broccoli eggs — it’s delicious. Why not add extra-yummy stuff, in addition to extra-healthy stuff? I started doing this because I hate to throw out food but then realized it was a way to get some extra veggies in there.”
“My favorite sneaky kid recipe is for smoothie popsicles. You can sneak pretty much anything healthy into a smoothie, and when you make it into a popsicle, it becomes a portable, nutritious snack. I usually add plain yogurt and soymilk, fresh or frozen berries, and bananas. Pour the mixture into ready-made popsicle molds, and you have an easy snack that can even be breakfast to go!”
— Jennifer F.
“My kids love toasted wheat germ sprinkled on their ice cream. I know ice cream is not a health food, but when they have it as a treat, they might as well get a touch of something healthy along with it. I was laughing last night when they were arguing about who got extra wheat germ on the ice cream [because] they have no idea it’s good for them. Flaxseed is another power food that’s easy to add to everything, including smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt.”
“The only thing that works for us is juicing — yes, I juice a bunch (literally) of kale, two carrots, 1/3 beet, and one to two oranges, then dilute with water (50-50 ratio). I also add a multivitamin to the mix. I’m amazed that it works because it’s an incredibly earthy-tasting juice and not very sweet at all.”
“Add pureed or mashed veggies to a grilled cheese or quesadilla. I’ve chopped up sauteed spinach and attempted to hide it inside a grilled cheese sandwich. It worked a few times until [my son] got smart enough to notice it and start picking it out.”
“If your kid will eat tomato sauce on pasta, it’s easy to hide veggies in [the dish]. Either chop or puree mushrooms, onion, carrots, celery, and spinach, and add to the sauce.”
Sweet potato treats
“Sweet potatoes might be one of the only veggies that are slightly easier to get a picky eater to ingest. But if yours still won’t, try slicing them into fries and seasoning with salt, or baking and pureeing them to add to a pancake mix for breakfast.”
What about lunch?
Packing a healthy lunch — only to have it come back untouched — can be tough to fix. Get some lunch inspiration here: 5 ways to make lunch more fun, 7 secrets of highly successful lunches, and Beyond the sandwich: lunch ideas.