Toddlers are known for their notorious dislike of anything that’s remotely good for them. Even the sheer sight of a piece of broccoli at meal times can lead to an epic tantrum.
While mealtime battles are a natural and common part of the toddler stage, it can be worrying for parents that their little one may not be getting the nutrients they need. So, if you’re looking to keep your toddler healthy but you really struggle to get them to eat those all-important veggies, the answer is to hide them! After all, it’s hard for your toddler to refuse vegetables if they don’t even know that they’re there in the first place.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can hide vegetables in your toddler’s food without them knowing it. Below we’ll look at some of the best hidden veggie tricks and ideas to make mealtimes much more bearable!
Take Advantage Of Smoothies
You can’t get more hidden than blending vegetables into oblivion. Smoothies don’t just hide fruits and vegetables however – they’re also really tasty! Your toddler will love the huge range of healthy smoothies you can create.
Many smoothie recipes combine a range of fruits and vegetables together. This means you can ensure your little one gets their recommended daily allowance of veggies in just one breakfast smoothie.
The only thing to remember here is that smoothies do tend to have a high natural sugar count. So, they aren’t recommended every single day, but a few times a week you could offer a healthy smoothie for breakfast.
Blend Them Into Pasta Sauces
If your little one loves pasta, you can cleverly blend up those veggies and create a delicious pasta sauce. By the time you’ve finished, there will be no sign of the vegetables, yet all of their goodness will remain.
Of course, not all toddlers love pasta sauce! My sister-in-law for example has only recently overcome a very frustrating battle with her two-year-old, where a bowl of pasta would result in a tear fest worthy of an Oscar winning performance. So, you may need to wait for them to outgrow their fussy eating stage before you can try out this clever idea.
Blended vegetables can also be used in traditional dishes such as lasagna or spaghetti Bolognese.
Chop Them Up REALLY Small
If you don’t have a blender, you can also often get away with just cutting the vegetables up really small. As long as they don’t look like vegetables, toddlers are often tricked into eating them.
Chopped veggies can be used on pizzas, as well as a wide range of other recipes. They can even be sprinkled over dishes as a colorful finishing touch or used in toasted sandwiches.
Hide Vegetables Inside Other Foods
Vegetables can also be hidden inside other foods, such as homemade tater tots or cauliflower tots. Here, all your toddler will see when they pick up the food, is the breadcrumbs and the outer shell. The veggies will be successfully hidden well in the middle – a place toddlers don’t always pay attention to while they’re eating!
Anything you can make in breadcrumbs or batter, could be a perfect hiding place for veggies.
Give Them A More Tempting Name
Sometimes, the best way to disguise vegetables is in plain sight. Some very clever parents have come up with the idea to give fruits and vegetables different names. So, instead of calling a grape a grape for example, they would tell their little one they were sweets.
It’s amazing how well this works. If they think they are getting a treat or junk food based snack, they’ll automatically want to try it. You could even join in with the game and make “Mmmm” noises as you pop a carrot stick dipped into humus into your own mouth.
Do A Food Switch
You can also use vegetables as a healthier alternative for common junk foods you know your toddler loves. For example, parsnips and sweet potatoes can make a wonderful alternative to chips and your little one will love the sweeter flavor.
Create Tasty, Healthy Dips
Another great and simplistic idea is to create your own dips. Again, blending up vegetables into a dip helps to perfectly disguise them, while also providing a versatile dipping solution for a wide range of foods.
Get them to dip crackers or chips into them for example, or if they happen to like carrot sticks (and many toddlers do), you can help them be extra-healthy and provide a veggie dip for them to dunk the carrots into.
A Veggie Friendly Macaroni Cheese
Who doesn’t love macaroni cheese? This popular dish is extremely easy to hide veggies in too.
But isn’t macaroni cheese unhealthy? Not necessarily! Just a few tweaks to the traditional recipe can make this a much healthier dish. Some of the best veggies to use in macaroni cheese dishes include spinach, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and peas.
Vegetable Cookies – A Surprisingly Tasty Treat
You’ve probably never thought to add vegetables to cookies, but they actually go surprisingly well. Spinach for example, is a great veggie to add and it even goes well in cake recipes too.
The thought of adding vegetables to sweet treats can seem a little off-putting. After all, the whole reason you like them is because they taste so great (which often goes in hand with not being good for us!) However, the addition of a couple of veggies isn’t going to ruin the cookies. If anything, it will enhance the flavors.
I mean, you’d never eat a spoon of vanilla extract but we always put it in our cookies right?
Overall, there’s many ways you can hide vegetables in your toddler’s food. Not all of them will work for your little one, but there’s bound to be at least one idea above that tricks them into getting their daily dose of veggie goodness.
Have you got your own tips on hiding veggies from a toddler? Let us know in the comments section below!