Recipes Filled With Absolutely Hidden Vegetables Kids Will Actually Like

Jess Richardson | May 31, 2019 Food & Party
Recipes Filled With Absolutely Hidden Vegetables Kids Will Actually Like
Image: iStock

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
iStock

Let's be honest with ourselves: It's hard enough to get us to eat our veggies half the time, much less expect kids to do so willingly. We remember what it was like being a kid -- vegetables taste extra bitter to young palates, which makes them super-duper not enticing to kiddos. (That's also why those incredibly sugary-sweet treats we used to go absolutely bananas for, such as Fun Dip, taste gross to us as adults but were the height of kid fun.) So we probably frequently find we have to sneak veggies into our kids' food -- otherwise they'll just flat-out refuse to eat them or will put up a fight anyway. (We'll win that fight -- we're the parents -- but who has the emotional energy to put up with that nonsense at the end of the day?) Instead of dealing with the screaming that necessarily comes with giving kids the vitamins and nutrients they need to survive, try these recipes that can help hide the good stuff from them. 

Such a good idea for busy moms -- and moms who have a household that generally isn't on the same schedule with afterschool activities -- these 40 Crock-Pot Dinners Kids Can Serve Themselves give kiddos the freedom to serve themselves healthy, nutritious meals after school -- and they don't take that long to put together, either. We're also fans of 40 Healthy Crock-Pot Meals the Whole Family Will Love for nights when we want to make cooking easy on ourselves. Some nights, we're not in the mood to cook, and that's what What Moms Feed Their Kids When They Don't Feel Like Cooking is for, while Beyond Solids: Simple 3-Ingredient Recipes to Encourage Growing Taste Buds will help babies develop a taste for vegetables early on.

For parents looking to add some extra veggies to the mix, check out 20 Plant-Based Main Dishes That Take 5 Ingredients or Less and Super Easy Plant-Based Recipes For Meat-Eaters, which both really help parents create meal plans all the time. 

  • Zucchini Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

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    Zucchini Carrot Oatmeal Muffins
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    These zucchini carrot oatmeal muffins are, unlike most muffins, actually good -- like, really good -- for kids and grown-ups alike. Reduce the amount of oil if desired by substituting some of it for applesauce, and lower the glycemic load by replacing the sugar with coconut sugar. 

  • Breakfast Egg Muffins With Spinach and Bacon

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    Breakfast Egg Muffins With Spinach and Bacon
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    Getting anyone to eat spinach can be a trial -- especially kiddos. However, a little bit of bacon goes a long way to convincing anybody to do anything (including eating spinach). These breakfast egg muffins with spinach and bacon are a tasty example!

  • Customizable Avocado Smoothies

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    Customizable Avocado Smoothies
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    Customizable avocado smoothies are such a creamy, indulgent-tasting way to get kids to very accidentally suck down some veggies -- and real, raw veggies, no less! Throw in a handful of mix-ins such as baby spinach or kale, along with some tasty (and healthy) additions such as frozen raspberries and blueberries, and they'll be "eating" their veggies in no time.

  • Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

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    Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
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    Cauliflower mac and cheese is a real thing, y'all, and it's absolutely delicious. This is one of those dishes we make for the kids but is really made for us to snack on later once they've gone to bed (probably with a glass or two of red wine, let's be real). 

  • Lentil and Mushroom "Shepherd's Pie"

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    Lentil and Mushroom
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    This recipe for lentil and mushroom "shepherd's pie" is one we make literally any time we absolutely need comfort food but also know that more veggies are better for us than more meat. (We eat enough hamburgers as it is.) Although the recipe calls for a sweet potato topping, we do a traditional mashed-potato top because sometimes there's such a thing as too darn healthy.

  • Broccoli Pesto Pasta With Whipped Ricotta

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    Broccoli Pesto Pasta With Whipped Ricotta
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    It is a universal truth that bitter flavors kids hate -- such as broccoli -- can be hidden with enough parmesan cheese and butter. This recipe for broccoli pesto pasta with whipped ricotta tastes incredibly indulgent but is actually pretty healthy. For an even milder broccoli flavor, quickly blanch the broccoli before putting it in the sauce.

  • Best Veggie Burger (Better Than Store-bought)

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    The Best Veggie Burger (Better Than Store-bought)
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    What's better than burger night? Veggie burger night, packed with great veggies, protein, and flavor! We love this incredible recipe for the best veggie burger (better than store-bought). It involves a bunch of ingredients and is a tiny bit of a hassle to make, but the patties also freeze uncooked perfectly for up to three months -- so it's worth it to make a big batch.

  • Hidden Veggie Tomato Sauce

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    Hidden Veggie Tomato Sauce
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    Our approach to a tomato sauce -- such as a basic tomato sauce for any pasta -- is how many veggies can we stuff into this without anybody noticing? The answer is a whole, whole lot. Check out this hidden veggie tomato sauce for more.

  • Easy Spinach Pesto

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    Easy Spinach Pesto
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    Pesto is such a strong flavor (even though it's a cheese-packed one kids love), it can easily hide bitter flavors such as spinach and kale. This easy spinach pesto quickly covers up a full two cups of baby spinach -- and although it does use a teaspoon of sugar, we think it's worth it. For a lower glycemic hit, try subbing it out with coconut sugar.

  • Hidden Veggie Pizza

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    Hidden Veggie Pizza
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    Pizza night is normally pretty indulgent, but it doesn't have to be. This hidden veggie pizzai is a tasty, easy example of getting kids to eat spinach and mushrooms in a single sitting -- just by folding them chopped-up in the pizza sauce. Offer some fresh green bell pepper slices (or even pepperoni, we're still ahead here!) to put on their own pizzas.

  • Chicken Tacos, Loaded With Hidden Veggies

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    Chicken Tacos, Loaded With Hidden Veggies
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    Okay, the ingredients list for this recipe for chicken tacos, loaded with hidden veggies is totally intimidating, but the prep work goes way faster than anyone might think -- and the results are so totally worth it. Plus, this stuff is basically a meal prepper's dream -- and if traditional meal prep feels stressful, it can be frozen.

  • Cauliflower Zuppa Toscana 

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    Cauliflower Zuppa Toscana
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    Okay, check it out: This is a cauliflower zuppa toscana. That means it's a rich, creamy, traditionally Italian soup made of sausage, kale, and potatoes, but instead of using a cream base, this one is made creamy with extra cauliflower and cashews (yup). 

  • Mexican Cauliflower Rice

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    Mexican Cauliflower Rice
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    We're not inherently anti-carb, but for anyone trying to get their kids to eat more veggies, Mexican cauliflower rice is a really, really easy trick to pull. The rice itself is replaced with tiny cauliflower chunks (DIY or buy pre-riced from Trader Joe's) and loaded with even more veggies. So. Good. Serve with seared fish or chicken breast!

  • Healthy Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

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    Healthy Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
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    We all love a classic grilled cheese sandwich, but why not upgrade with these incredibly tasty but still totally good for us healthy veggie grilled cheese sandwiches? Pack extra veggies inside, and the kids will still eat them. (Serve with a tomato soup for a super classic meal.) 

  • Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

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    Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
    iStock

    It's so hard to get kids to eat their veggies, but it's really, really not hard to get them to eat pasta. Add a big veggie boost to a pasta dish with this butternut squash pasta sauce or try using zoodles for a double dose of healthy goodness.

  • Oven Baked Falafel

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    Oven Baked Falafel
    iStock

    Chickpeas are never going to be on a kid's list of favorites ... unless they're served in this ultra-healthy version of falafel. This oven baked falafel is baked, as the name implies, not fried, as falafel usually is -- but it's still crunch and fry-like. All of this means we feel good about serving it in a heavy rotation.

  • Homemade Chicken Nuggets With Hidden Vegetables

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    Homemade Chicken Nuggets With Hidden Vegetables
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    These homemade chicken nuggets with hidden vegetables are frankly brilliant. We can't think of any kid who won't eat chicken nuggets, which means we can't think of any kid who's going to turn up their nose at these zucchini- and carrot-packed treats.

  • Instant Pot Hidden Veggie Applesauce

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    Instant Pot Hidden Veggie Applesauce
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    Use this flavorful treat it as a side dish with pork chops or a snack all on its own. This Instant Pot hidden veggie applesauce is absolutely brilliant for bringing golden beets (seriously!) as well as some extra carrots into a kid's diet without the picky eater ever knowing. 

  • Avocado-Spinach Chocolate Pudding

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    Avocado-Spinach Chocolate Pudding
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    This avocado-spinach chocolate pudding doesn't even make sense, that's how good it tastes. The avocado translates in pudding form to "rich, indulgent cream," the spinach is impossible to taste, and the chocolate flavor is super forward. Yes, please, we'll take 12 for ourselves -- the heck with the kids.

  • Black Bean Brownies

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    Black Bean Brownies
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    Honestly, seriously, these black bean brownies are genuinely better and more fudgy and rich than regular brownies. Want to hear the most messed-up part? We've thrown a half a bag of baby spinach (wilted and finely chopped) in this and no one's even noticed.

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