Yes, we all know it’s important for kids to eat vegetables, but let’s face it– even we adults aren’t always their biggest fans. I’d bet my kids are pretty good eaters, and they will even eat some vegetables without much of a fuss (thank you, carrots!), but sometimes it can be an absolute struggle. I want to eat them more, the kids— will thank me later if I have them eat them more. It’s just kind of hard to figure out how to willfully get veggies into the dish without the battle.
So I started switching our noodles for spiralized vegetables…
…and the zucchini noodle experiment went over pretty well (at least for me, my kids were NOT fans). Then I tried cauliflower rice. The kids were even less thrilled. So I gave up this cross-over idea and I went back to the old stand by tricks like having them pick out the veggies, helping me cook, that sort of thing. And while those are helpful, I never felt it was enough.
That’s when it hit me
I realized it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. Being open to re-strategizing this whole “need for nutrition” against the unwilling little benefactors, I decided to mix the veggies in rather than replace them altogether. THAT was where we had a win!
Half-and-half. It tasted good to me, my husband (a recent convert to veggies), and even our three girls! It started with the zucchini noodles in spaghetti (not one complaint or weird face), then a return to cauliflower rice mixed with white rice. The kids were not only eating their food, but were fans! I even braved changing my perfect mashed potatoes recipe by adding mashed cauliflower. The results from my darling critics? Delicious! No one could tell; It was a revelation!
The War is Over… I think
It’s been a few months since I started doing this, and I look for more ways to sneak in the good stuff while still offering vegetables outright (I believe they also should learn to love veggies for what they are as well). There are so many benefits to this method, but my favorite is the boost in nutritional value while also reducing calories— with no sacrifice to taste! It’s a beautiful thing.
I can say this: you can decide for your own family if you want to let the cat out of the bag on your switch-up right away. It’s probably best to let them know so they trust your cooking, but we also know taste is partly mental. You’re the mom; make the call for your own little diners.
TIP: One good idea is having them make it with you so they feel part of it. My kids always are happier to eat everything on the dish if they help prepare it. That way it helps off-set that ‘sneaky’ hang up.
My family’s favorites include:
- Half spaghetti, linguine, or angel hair pasta and half spaghetti squash.
- Half pasta and half spiralized zucchini (If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can cut them into thin strips to achieve the same effect. Since it’s mixed it doesn’t make as big of difference.)
- Half mashed potatoes and half mashed cauliflower (I boil it all in the same pot)
- Half rice and half cauliflower rice
- Spinach in everything! We especially love it in spaghetti, lasagna, sautéed potatoes, smoothies, and all casseroles. You can’t even taste it, and it’s so good for you!
Note: Be careful on the cauliflower proportions, and do not use more than half, and to start you may want to use less than half. The cauliflower flavor comes through a little stronger; and if I try to slip in a bit more, my kids can tell immediately.
What’s your favorite way to get them to eat more vegetables?