In addition to trying to eat fewer processed foods, I’ve also been hiding veggies in a lot of what I make. I know there is a debate about whether veggie hiding is ultimately good for your family – the argument against is basically that your kids don’t learn to eat fruits and vegetables if they don’t know they’re there. To be fair, I still put the veggies on the plate as well. Currently, only the six year old will actually eat his vegetables (he’s actually pretty good about it and loves things like broccolli, asparagus and green beans). My hope is that eventually the other two will come around. But until then… I’m not ashamed to trick them into eating at least some vegetables.
Here are the five veggies I hide most often, with examples of where I hide them.
Zucchini – I puree and put this stuff in almost anything. For some things, where a little bit of green color won’t be noticed I use it without peeling. For other things, peel first and then puree. It works great because it doesn’t have a strong flavor and just blends in with whatever it’s added to. Top uses: Fruit Roll Ups, Tacos, Pasta/Pizza Sauce, Sloppy Joes, Brownies
Carrots – These are also good to puree and add to anything that could benefit from a little sweetness. I cook them prior to pureeing for use in fruit roll ups. For everything else they go in raw. Top uses: Pasta/Pizza sauce, fruit roll ups, tacos
Sweet Potatoes – This one was actually an accidental discovery. I had a bunch of sweet potatoes that were going to go bad while I was out of town, so I cut them into fry shape pieces and froze in a ziplock bag. Sadly, my boys won’t actually eat sweet potato fries, so I was left to find alternative uses for them and was pleasantly surprised at how well they can be mixed into other foods. Like the carrots, they add a little bit of sweetness so they are good for anything that can use a little sweet or you can adjust your salt to compensate. Top uses: Pasta/Pizza Sauce, tacos, sloppy joes
Spinach/Greens – Spinach can surprisingly blend in with a variety of foods from smoothies to pasta sauce. I puree it raw and then freeze the pretty green mush to use later. It does add a bit of color to what you add it to. For smoothies, it can be noticable in terms of color unless you use a small amount or blueberries to counteract a bit of the green. When used in tomato sauces, it makes the sauce a sort of brown color. Top uses: Pasta/Pizza sauce, Quesadillas, Smoothies
Red Peppers – These too became a go to when I had a bunch that were going to go bad and had to freeze them. Now I purposely buy a bunch when they’re on sale and always have strips on hand in the freezer to add to the food processor. These are best in flavorful dishes like tacos or pasta sauces.
Cauliflower – Steamed and pureed, cauliflower can be added to almost anything. Macaroni and cheese, pasta sauces, tacos, sloppy joes, mashed potatoes… it’s mild and doesn’t really add color so is very versatile.
All of these can be pureed and frozen. I often throw a bunch of veggies into the food processor before they go bad and then freeze the mixture to have on hand. My most used mix would be carrots, zucchini, red peppers, and onions.
What types of veggies do you hide in your family’s food? What dishes have you found work well for adding hidden veggies?