August 10, 2014 by Kimberly Beauchamp, ND
Got a picky eater? While I usually don’t advocate sneaking vegetables into kids (I’m generally of the mind that everyone should have a choice about what they eat), there are times when I think it’s perfectly justifiable. Like when they won’t eat ANY vegetables on their own, or if adding veggies to a dish won’t change its flavor appreciably. I mean, WHY NOT? It’s a win-win. Your kids eat vegetables without a fight, and you go to bed with the satisfaction of having pumped them full of phytonutrients.
Boring veggies make great add-ins
If you’re going to try to fortify your recipes, look for those vegetables with very mild flavor or those that tend to take on the flavor of the other ingredients in the recipe. I’ve found that these vegetables can be added to a variety of different recipes, some as center stage, and others as “extras” that don’t tend to get noticed.
A member of the Brassica family (that also includes collards, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage), cauliflower is simply packed with goodness. It’s high in vitamins C and K, and it aids in the body’s natural detoxification system, acts as an antioxidant, and helps combat inflammation. These actions team up to help cauliflower protect against a variety of cancers and promote heart and gastrointestinal health.
One of my favorite ways to serve cauliflower is as a mashed potato substitute. It’s super easy to make. Just cut one head of cauliflower into florets and steam until tender. Add a couple cloves of garlic to the steamer to spice it up a little. Remove cauliflower (and garlic, if using) from steamer and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add 3 tablespoons of butter and some salt and fresh ground pepper, and process until smooth. While it’s great on its own, mashed cauliflower is even better as a topping for shepherd’s pie. Seriously delicious.
Other ways to get your kids to eat cauliflower: Grate it using a cheese grater and stir fry to make “cauliflower rice,” or add grated cauliflower to meatballs in place of breadcrumbs.
This delicate green is high in vitamins A and K, folate, manganese, and magnesium. Those sky-high vitamin K levels earn spinach a place of honor as a bone-building vegetable, while it also boasts anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits.
I love to add spinach to smoothies, where its neutral flavor is all but undetectable to discerning palates. You can sub it for the kale in my Barely Green Smoothie.
Other ways to get your kids to eat spinach: Replace 1/2 of the basil in homemade pesto with spinach, or puree it and add 1/4 cup to your favorite brownie recipe. (You may decrease the amount of liquid used in the recipe, but it’s not necessary.)
Summer squash like zucchini is a terrific source of several antioxidants including lutein and zeaxanthin, which support eye health. Oh how do I love zucchini? Let me count the ways: zucchini bread, grilled zucchini, broiled zucchini topped with fresh grated parmesan, and my favorite: zucchini chicken meatballs. Trust me. Your kids will love them, too.
I adapted this recipe from One Lovely Life by adding egg as a binder so the meatballs stay together a little better when frying them and using basil in addition to the cilantro. (What can I say? I have a lot of basil in my garden.)
1 lb ground chicken breast or thighs
2 cups grated zucchini
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 egg, beaten
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
olive oil, coconut oil, ghee or other cooking oil for frying
Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the mixture to the heated skillet by the heaping tablespoon full. Cook 4-6 minutes per side, or until lightly browned.
Enjoy getting those veggies into your kiddos!