Thursday, January 15, 2009

Very Sneaky Veggies

I know we all struggle to eat our veggies, let alone the mountain of a task in getting a picky toddler to as well. With such a fast paced life I have found that we end up feeding Chase quick fix foods, and what's a quicker fix than chicken nuggets or raviolis? But I hate feeding him full of fatty foods and God knows what else is in those things. And of course who would want to eat those weird looking green things when you've got yummy chicken nuggets in front of you. I know that all mom's have a fun time trying to get our kids to eat fruits and veggies so I have collected a few of my no-fail tricks.

Jessica is an artist when it come to disguising food, her book Deceptively Delicious has great advice and recipes on how to sneak veggies into common foods. And likewise Missy, The Sneaky Chef uses purees to hide those important ingredients.

While making your own purees is a great idea, and maybe I'll start doing that this year. But I honestly just found it much easier to buy jars of baby food. But the recipes still work with the jarred stuff.

So one of my favorite recipes is from Jessica and it's making your own chicken nuggets! This is an ingenious idea and works wonders. Instead of using chicken chunks like her recipes called for, I blended my all of my ingredients together and made it the consistency of a crabcake or salmon patty. A quick dip in the skillet and they're ready to eat. OR you can make bunches (with different veggies) and freeze them. Then you've got your own go-to chicken nuggets. I did find however that they work best if you put them in the oven for reheating.

Pancakes with power are a great way to start the morning off right. Jessica also has a sneaky recipe for pancakes, or waffles work too, that includes blending sweet potato puree into the mix. This makes the pancakes a fun orange color, perfect for Halloween, and they taste great with cinnamon and nutmeg. Or is you have little girls, try using beet or plum puree for pink and purple pancakes. What better idea for a girls slumber party.

Of course I've already told you guys about my Pea-za. Where I sneak pea puree into spaghetti sauce for mini pizza. This is a fun way to cook with your kids too, just make sure they don't see the pea puree.

And what kid could resist a sloppy joe? Cooking Light has a yummy sloppy joe recipe that includes green bell peppers and corn. I just make sure to chop the peppers up really well, and even though you can see the corn, my picky toddler loves it.

Cauliflower is the miracle veggie. I say this because you can puree it, and then sneak it into almost any dish. It quickly takes on the flavor of anything it is used with. So stick it in your mashed potatoes or mac'n cheese.

I recently got an email from about some more easy ways to get kids to eat their veggies and I pulled out my favorites for you...

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Puree a 12-ounce jar of roasted red sweet peppers packed in water (drain it first) with a garlic clove. Heat puree, 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, and 3 tablespoons tomato paste on medium until warm, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon fresh basil, a smidge of honey, salt, and pepper.

Crinkly Carrot Fries
Slice 1 pound of carrots into 1/2-inch-wide sticks using a crinkle cutter. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft, on a parchment paper-lined pan.
Tip: Great for toddlers 12 months and up.

Mini Vegetable Cakes
Combine half an 8-1/2-ounce package corn-muffin mix with 1 egg white and 3 tablespoons water. Stir in 3/4 cup shredded zucchini and 1/2 cup chopped canned beets. Drop batter by the tablespoon into 2 tablespoons hot canola oil. Cook 2 minutes; turn and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, until browned.

Sweet Potato-Parsnip Mash

Peel and cut 12 ounces of sweet potato and 2 parsnips into 1-1/2-inch pieces. Boil in lightly salted water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and return to pot with 1/3 cup apple cider, salt, and pepper. Mash until nearly smooth.

Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Soup

Cook 1/2 cup chopped onion in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil on medium for 4 minutes, or until tender. Stir in a 15-ounce can pumpkin puree, 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, 1 cup water, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 teaspoon curry powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; heat through. Swirl plain yogurt on top of each bowl.

Breaded Asparagus
Dip 8 ounces trimmed asparagus spears first in all-purpose flour, then in beaten egg, and then in panko bread crumbs. Drizzle asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake in a single layer at 450 degrees F. for 10 minutes, or until golden. Serve with honey-mustard dip. (I think this would work with green beans too!)

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash

Place half of a 2-1/2-pound de-seeded spaghetti squash, cut side down, in a baking dish with 2 tablespoons water; cover with wax paper. Microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender. Let cool slightly, then scrape strands from squash. Toss with 1 cup pasta sauce and 3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese.

Who knew there were so many ways to eat veggies? I hope these ideas help you as much as they have helped me fix my finiky eater.

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