Pasta, toast, smoothies, ice pops, pizza, and fritters! It doesn’t exactly sound like the healthiest bunch of food, does it? However, one thing that all of these dishes have in common is that my toddler loves them. But, like most moms, it’s really important to me that my kid’s food is not only delicious, but also nutritious. From the time that Roman started eating solids until about 1.5 years, he was a great eater and he pretty much ate whatever we put in front of him. Sometime before he turned two, that all changed. All of a sudden we had a very picky eater on our hands. He turned his nose up at anything that resembled a vegetable. That’s when we knew we had to get creative!
Over the past few months, I’ve come up with several awesome ways to sneak vegetables into Roman’s snacks & meals. Here are six of my favorites.
1. Pasta — One thing that my kid will never say no to is pasta. It’s been his meal of choice for as long as I can remember. We’ve found lots of simple ways to make pasta more healthy. One thing I like to do is make kale pesto pasta. (Click here to check out that recipe.) Another thing I’ll do is boil vegetables — like broccoli, carrots, or beets — blend or mash them up, and add them to whatever sauce I’m serving over our pasta. Occasionally I will stir fry some veggies and add them to the mix, but my picky boy tends to find those and eat around them! So blending them into the sauce works better for us.
2. Toast — Another thing that Roman loves is a great piece of bread. (I mean who doesn’t, right?) Occasionally we’ll have a loaf of fresh rye from the bakery or a yummy loaf of sourdough. Roman loves toast and spreading on a thick layer of blended vegetables is a good way to add a lot of nutrition to the mix. If I don’t have time to mash up some veggies, I like to use Beech-Nut baby food as a spread. They recently launched their new organic line and Roman loves them all. The mango, carrot & orange is his favorite.
3. Smoothies — I’ve never seen anyone down a smoothie the way that Roman does. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter what we put in it. We give him a smoothie and a straw and it’s gone within minutes! It’s amazing. We typically use almond milk & a banana as a base and after that we add whatever we have on hand into the blender. Favorite additions are kale, apple, carrots, cashews, strawberries, blueberries, spinach, and peanut butter.
4. Ice Pops — Recently, I picked up a pair of ice pop molds in the grocery store. Whenever we have leftover smoothie from breakfast we just put it in the molds and then pop them in the freezer. It makes for the perfect, delicious, nutritious playtime or after-dinner snack.
5. Pizza — There are lots of fun ways to get creative with pizza. You can load it up with shredded or sliced veggies, cover with cheese, and bake. Or, you can add boiled, mashed vegetables into your pizza sauce. Either way, I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t love pizza! It’s a great way to sneak a bunch of nutrition into a kid-friendly meal.
6. Fritters — Fritters are one of my all-time favorites. The healthiest ones are the ones that we load up with vegetables. A few of Roman’s favorites include shredded carrots, zucchini, eggplant, or sweet potatoes. We love to make dipping sauces for our fritters, too. It’s another great place to add some more veggies. A delicious dip idea is Greek yogurt blended with kale & garlic. Yummy!
Okay, writing this post has got me all kinds of hungry. I’m off to the kitchen to whip something up. I hope I’ve inspired you to sneak more vegetables into your kids’ (and your own!) meals.
What are some of your favorite ways to be sure that your family is eating enough vegetables? I’d love to hear in the comments!