Research shows that it can take as many as 10 to 15 tastes before a child will learn to appreciate a new flavor. While you may struggle to get your kids to eat their vegetables at the dinner table, there are some ways you can sneak in servings of vegetables without them even knowing it. Try these sneaky tips and kid-friendly recipes to get your family to eat more vegetables.
1. Veg Out Your Mac & Cheese
Pictured Recipe: Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese
Cheese sauce is a classic way to make veggies more palatable to kids. Near the end of the pasta cooking time, add your child’s favorite vegetable (try frozen peas or corn) to the boiling water, drain and combine it with the sauce. Another option: puree your veg into the cheese sauce. Fiber-rich sweet potato works great here: the bright orange color tricks your eyes into thinking the pasta is loaded with cheese.
2. Serve It Up in a Smoothie
Pictured Recipe: Apricot-Peach Smoothie
Whether you enjoy smoothies for breakfast, a snack or even dessert, they’re a great way to sneak in those daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Try whirring up raw veggies, such as carrot, kale, spinach, avocado and cucumber. Or mix in unsweetened pumpkin puree for a smoothie that tastes just like pumpkin pie!
3. Beef Up Ground Beef...with Veg
Pictured Recipe: Ground Beef & Pasta Skillet
When you’re making sloppy joes or meat-based pasta sauce, reduce the amount of ground beef and add some finely chopped mushrooms to the mix. The meaty texture of mushrooms is similar to the ground beef, and they absorb the rich flavors of the sauce.
4. Hide Veggies in Pizza
Pictured Recipe: Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Who doesn't love pizza? When you're making Barbecue Chicken Pizza, trying mixing in shredded zucchini with your barbecue sauce. Or for Pepperoni Pizza, make already lycopene-rich tomato sauce even healthier, by stirring in canned unseasoned pumpkin puree. It adds fiber and beta carotene, but has a mild flavor and creamy texture. One cup of pumpkin puree stirred into 1/2 cup pizza sauce is enough to top 1 pound of pizza dough.
5. Have Veggies for Dessert
Pictured Recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
Ok, we're not suggesting that you get all of your veggie servings with a side of sweet, but if you're struggling to get your family to eat their vegetables, then a secret boost of zucchini in that brownie won't hurt.
Related: 9 Vegetables You Can Eat as Dessert
Watch: How to Make Chocolate Zucchini Brownies