If your child has turned against anything green, don’t despair: you can hide vegetables in all sorts of food and they’ll still get their five a day
We all want our little ones to love good, healthy food – but there comes a time in most two and three-year-olds’ lives when they’ll reject anything remotely green.
At a glance
- Take a food they already like such as Spaghetti Bolognese, then add in some vegetables
- Keep offering non-hidden veg with the meal
- Try adding finely shredded vegetables to something popular like pizza
If you so much as wave a leaf of spinach or cabbage at some three-year-olds you will be greeted by a long, incredulous stare. But what if they didn’t actually realise they were eating something so disgustingly healthy?
Even leading children’s cookery expert Annabel Karmel admits that with three kids, she spent years hiding vegetables. She began by adding carrots, celery and onion to a tomato soup she was making, then branched out into a hidden vegetable pasta sauce with courgettes and carrots.
As she says, in an ideal world we wouldn’t have to do that and all kids would love vegetables, but if it’s a choice between hiding them in a homemade pasta sauce or opening a can of spaghetti hoops – well, you get the picture.
Here are some tips:
- Take a food they already like such as spaghetti Bolognese, then add in some vegetables like carrot, celery and broccoli. Start by pureeing the veg, then gradually leave it chunkier as they get used to it.
- Try adding finely shredded vegetables to something popular like pizza. Let them decorate it themselves and make faces or pictures with the strips of veg.
- Do some colour matching: blend or mash pale vegetables such as cauliflower or parsnip in with something colourful like carrots.
- Scoop out a baked potato and mix it with sweet potato or butternut squash, or with broccoli and cheese.
- Keep veg crunchy (steam rather than boil as fewer nutrients are lost). Keep some back from the meal, cool with ice cold water and offer it later as a finger food snack.
- A really hungry child will be much less fussy, so when they get home from playgroup or pre-school is a good time to bring out raw vegetables and dips.
- If they’re not keen on salad, make a tangy, sweet dressing (use a tiny bit of sugar and soy sauce) – it can work wonders.
- Keep offering non-hidden veg with the meal. If they keep seeing it there, one day they will actually eat it.