Sneaky Food Tricks
Parenting comes with all sorts of worries–“Will I raise my child to be a responsible citizen?” “Will I have the playground bully?” “Am I disciplining my child the right way?” But, believe it or not, one worry that consumed me was, “Is my child getting enough vegetables–and is he getting a big enough variety of them?” I always feel as if my family eats healthy enough, but when my first-born was a baby, I felt that all he was eating was peas. Peas are great and all, but do they have all the nutrients he needed? I doubted it.
So, I got creative. Luckily, I love to cook, and I’m not afraid of experimentation. I have found the following to work well–and, since they are used in packaged foods, it makes it all the more easy.
Cauliflower, spinach, and sweet potato all make great sneaky additions.
Pureed Cauliflower: Cut up a head of cauliflower and then steam. You know it’s done when a fork easily pokes in. Put the steamed pieces in a food processor or blender, with about half a cup of the water that was used in the steaming. Blend until smooth.
Puree can be stored in a airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days, or pour into Ziploc bags and freeze. If using frozen purees, just put the Ziploc bag in a bowl of hot water and it will defrost.
Spinach: I use fresh, and chop it up, or frozen chopped spinach works as well.
Sweet Potato: I usually use canned and make it easy on myself. But, you can also use a fresh sweet potato: Bake at 350 degrees until soft. Scoop out pulp and then put in food processor or blender, add a half cup water. Blend until smooth.
Now, here are three recipes that you can use these purees in:
1) Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
Yes, I said Kraft. Make your macaroni as usual, and when you blend in the cheese packet, milk and butter, add the pureed cauliflower as well. Heat it up a bit if it’s coming out of the fridge. For even more veggies, pour some frozen peas in with the boiling noodles just before they are done.
2) Campbell’s Soup
Take your child’s favorite flavor (Cars, Buzz Lightyear, Princess–you get the idea) and pour into the pan. Add the sweet potato puree, and water (if soup can says it needs it). Stir it up as it heats, and wah-la–healthier soup. For even more veggies, add some frozen peas and/or chopped up carrots (carrots should cook through as soup heats up).
This is great for the spinach or the cauliflower–the kiddos never realize it’s in there.
Ingredients: (you can use all of the fruit listed, or a combination of it)
- 4 strawberries
- 1/2 banana
- handful of blueberries
- 1/2 cup of juice (orange works best)
- 1/2 cup of yogurt (I like vanilla) — optional
- Veggies: handful of fresh spinach leaves, or 1/2 cup of frozen spinach. Or, 1/4 cup of cauliflower puree
- 4 ice cubes
Put all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth. I usually serve in cups with lids and straws so the kids don’t see the green color of the smoothie.
Enjoy! And have fun being your child’s sneaky chef!