Monday, September 16, 2013

Vegetables for Picky Eaters

My four year old nephew is a very picky eater.  His list of approved foods is very short:  bread products, tomato sauce/soup, chocolate, watermelon, and cheetos.  He hates vegetables, most fruits, and he's not a big meat eater.  A few weeks ago, we spent some time with them.  While everyone had pizza, he had a little french bread with a tiny bit of tomato sauce.  A little later, he had a bread stick.  That was all he ate from the time we got there at 10 am to the time he left at 5 pm.  He only started eating cheese a week ago.

My sister-in-law and I talked about his food habits, and she expressed concern.  That's when I told her that I add grated carrot into our spaghetti sauce.  She works a very demanding job and only sees nephew for an hour a day.  So I offered to help.  I'm trying to come up with ways to sneak nutrients into his food.  I know there are cookbooks out there for this express purpose, but this is what I've decided to try so far:
  • Zucchini doughnuts
  • Veggie-spiked spaghetti sauce
  • Veggie-spiked "nephew approved" soups (bean purees in tomato soup)
  • Sweet potato pancakes

For the first experiment, I decided to make something he couldn't say no to:  double chocolate zucchini muffins.  I found them at For the Love of Cooking.  I was skeptical at first, but they are AMAZING.

These muffins are moist, dense, and chocolatey.  There's no hint of zucchini in them.  These particular muffins I made with whole wheat flour, sucanat, pastured eggs, and organically/locally grown zucchini to make them extra delicious and healthy. Nephew downed his muffin in no time flat and proclaimed his love for them.  Next time I make them, homemade applesauce will substitute some of the oil to make it even better.

How do you sneak veggies into your foods?


  1. My kids love this tomato and red pepper soup. It looks like normal tomato soup, but it has red peppers and onions, and I add some celery when I make it too. They like the pumpkin soup a lot too:

    You might be interested in reading French Kids Eat Everything. It talks a lot about picky eating and our culture; it's really eye-opening.

    I'm kind of a hard-liner when it comes to food: if my kids don't eat what I serve, they don't eat. Of course I try to make things they like fairly often, but many nights we have things they don't love, and they usually eat it anyway.

    That said, I still enjoy sneaking veggies into what I cook. We like to guess what I sneak in as a dinner game.

    Have you tried smoothies? Once you get kids used to the idea, you can get a LOT of fruit into them through a smoothie. I used to make them for Tiger Lily when I was worried she wasn't getting enough fruits and veggies.

    Sorry, this comment got away from me. I care a lot about this subject!

    1. Feel free to comment away!

      I've read the back cover of French Kids Eat Everything (the rules) and I absolutely agree with them. I need to get around to reading the whole book. We try to impose that with Miss F, though it's hard since she's in that "I want what you have even if I have some on my plate" stage.

      I don't know if he's ever had smoothies, but I know I love them. I will definitely pass on the tomato soup recipe to my sister-in-law to see if he'll try it.

  2. I've been hiding carrot and zucchini in bolognese sauce for a long time and still do (my girls are 22 and 19).

    Jerry Seinfeld's wife, Jessica, has a book out called Deceptively Delicious (all about hiding vegetables in everyday food for kids)

    and here is a link to Vegie Smugglers

    (scroll down past the red tomato on the right hand side, under Categories, choose All Recipes and see what yummy things there are to make)

    Those chocolate muffins sound great - I wonder if I could fool my grown up girls! :)

    Cheers - Joolz xx

    1. I keep meaning to look up Jessica Seinfeld's book. I'd heard about it, but never remembered to pick it up at the library.

      I'm certain you could fool your girls. I wouldn't have known except that I made them myself. And even then, I didn't always remember it was in there :o)