Kids and Nutrition: Making Vegetables Taste Good

Getting kids to eat vegetables is not always an easy task. Because they are low in calories, sugar, fat, and salt, many kids find the taste of vegetables less than appealing. The good news? We can make them taste good!

For some kids, it may be as simple as serving vegetables with another dish they really enjoy or letting them get involved in meal prep. Others may happily indulge in carrot sticks or broccoli if they are paired with their favorite dip like guacamole or hummus. For many kids, though, to make veggies more appetizing it may be necessary to serve them in unexpected ways – even if that means sneaking them into some of your child’s favorite foods.

If you have a picky eater, here are some recipes to help you to just that!

Veggie packed burgers

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs ground meat (beef, chicken, turkey)
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, finely grated
  • 1/2 large carrot, grated
  • 1/2 large green apple, grated
  • 1/2 cup (about 1 bunch) parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Directions

  • Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together well using clean hands.
  • Form into patties and set aside the ones you need. Place the remaining patties into resealable bags, separating each patty with baking paper.
  • Heat a grill or frying pan over medium heat and spray with cooking oil. Cook patties for 4-5 minutes per side, or until done. Do not overcook or they will be dry.
  • Place patties on burger buns with salad ingredients and add your favorite condiments.

Source: http://www.kidspot.com.au/kitchen/recipes/veggie-packed-beef-burgers-3711

Spinach Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 1 cup of vanilla yogurt
  • 3/4 cup milk (or soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries
  • 1 banana

Directions

Blend all ingredients together. Add more milk if the smoothie is too thick (frozen fruit will make the smoothie thicker).  You could also make a smoothie bowl!

Veggie Red Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, shredded
  • few handfuls baby spinach
  • sprinkle or two of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Heat the oil in a saucepan with the onions and garlic. Sauté them until they begin to soften and caramelize. Pour in the tomatoes, toss in salt and pepper, oregano, carrots, bell pepper and zucchini. Simmer for roughly 20 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and continue simmering briefly as it wilts and heats through.

To minimize mess, purée the sauce with an immersion blender directly in the pot, or use a food processor or blender. Reheat as needed, then serve with your family’s favorite pasta.

Source: http://chefmichaelsmith.com/recipe/spaghetti-with-hidden-vegetable-tomato-sauce/

Power Packed Fruit and Veggie Muffin Recipe for Picky Eaters

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup broccoli, florets
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 medium carrot
  • 1/2 medium apple
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/8 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup yogurt, plain

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium size bowl, mix together flours, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. Soften butter.
  4. In a mixer or another bowl, mix the sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla. Beat well.
  5. In a food processor, combine steamed broccoli, zucchini, apple, banana, apple juice, and applesauce.  Pulse until thoroughly mixed.
  6. Shred carrots.  If you don’t want the shreds in your muffin, combine your carrots with the rest of the fruits and veggies in the food processor.
  7. Combine the fruit and veggie puree, carrots (unless you already added carrots to the puree), and yogurt, into the wet ingredient mixture (sugar/butter/eggs) and beat until mixed.
  8. Finally, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined and wet.
  9. In a muffin tin, place muffin papers or spray with cooking spray.
  10. Scoop the mixture into a prepared muffin pan.  Fill each spot about 3/4 of the way full.
  11. For mini muffins: Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes for mini-muffins.
  12. For regular size muffins: Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes.
  13. Bake until the tops are slightly brown and a toothpick comes out clean or they bounce back when you touch them with your finger.

Source: http://www.superhealthykids.com/power-packed-fruit-and-veggie-muffin-for-picky-eaters/

In the end, all that matters is that you to keep trying new ways to pack nutrition into your child’s meals!

To see some of these foods prepared, watch our recent Facebook Live segments here and here, or for more information on Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Sports Nutrition, click here.

Jessica Buschmann, RD
Jessica Buschmann, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian with Nationwide Children’s Sports Medicine. As part of her role at Nationwide Children’s, she provides nutrition services to Ohio Dominican University’s athletic teams and the general student population. She is registered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration and licensed by the Ohio Board of Dietetics. Before joining the NCH Sports Medicine team, Jessica completed her Master’s degree at Marywood University in Sports Nutrition and Exercise Science. Jessica’s professional interests include Female Athlete Triad management and prevention, employee wellness, and meal planning for optimal sports performance. Jessica’s personal interests include anything outdoors, running, cooking with friends and family, grocery shopping (especially at Farmer’s Markets!), trying new restaurants around Columbus, spontaneous and planned traveling adventures, skydiving, and reading with a good cup of java in local coffee shops.

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