Veggie-full foods for picky eaters

(BPT) – It seems like every family has at least one — a child who is somewhat selective about what they’re willing to eat. As a parent, you may despair about making sure your children are getting enough healthy vegetables in their daily diet. But don’t give up just yet. It is possible to use vegetables in creative ways that even your most critical eater will find hard to resist.

Here are just a few ideas to amp up the veggie factor — while also encouraging healthy eating habits.

Make veggies more fun

You probably had “ants on a log” when you were a kid — celery stalks filled with peanut butter and dotted with raisin “ants” that kids find irresistible. Sometimes the presentation makes all the difference.

These strategies may help kids see their veggies in a new way:

  • Use a fun name for the food — From “ants on a log” to calling zucchini noodles “zoodles,” kids like things that sound funny or pique their imagination.
  • Turn veggies into art — Turn a plate full of differently shaped veggies like carrot curls, strips of bell peppers, sliced pitted olives, cherry tomato halves or broccoli “trees” into faces or landscapes — or let your kids create art with them before they munch. Add tasty dips for kids to sample as they work their way around the plate.
  • Learn about herbivores in the animal world — Talk about what rabbits or guinea pigs eat, or large animals like elephants and huge dinosaurs! Arrange a salad plate fit for a bunny or a triceratops and have at it!

Sneak veggies into foods

They’ll never guess! There are plenty of ways to sneak a few — or a little more — veggies into foods your kids will love.

  • Cauliflower pizza crust. Kids love pizza, and they’ll never know the delicious crust is made from cauliflower. Newman’s Own Cauliflower Crust Thin and Crispy Pizzas, in Cheese or Margherita varieties, will quickly become family favorites. These great-tasting pizzas are made with wholesome ingredients like real cauliflower and 100% whole milk mozzarella, with no added sugar — and the crust is certified gluten-free.
  • Ground meat favorites. Meatballs, hamburgers and meatloaf using ground meat or poultry are easy foods to sneak in some finely grated carrot, zucchini, spinach or kale for a nutrition boost.
  • Eat your veggies for dessert. Veggies like carrots and zucchini make yummy breads, muffins or cake. A little sugar, agave or honey in the recipe is all that’s needed to sweeten the deal, turning your vegetables into dessert — or breakfast!
  • Smooth it up. Use your blender to make tasty concoctions from any number of veggies or fruits. Add yogurt and sweeten with honey until it tastes so good nobody can resist. Or just use bananas for sweetness that makes any smoothie taste better. Kids thrown off by green smoothies? Give it a funny name (Swamp Shake?) to help it go down more smoothly.

Include kids in the process

Grow vegetables at home, let kids choose some at the farmer’s market or learn how to prepare the veggies together. Children are more interested in eating things when they’ve had an active part in the process.

  • Short on outdoor space? Consider a small indoor herb or veggie garden as a fun family project.
  • Kids too young to handle knives or heat safely? Let younger children wash veggies or shuck corn.

Discover new things together

Explore vegetables that come in interesting shapes and colors, like eggplant, Romanesco, colorful bell peppers, watermelon radishes or rainbow carrots. Talk about how they grow — on the ground, under the ground or on a vine? See where you can buy veggies that look just as they do as they grow, like corn in husks or Brussels sprouts on stalks.

Need more meal inspiration? Check out for plenty of tasty, better-for-you recipe ideas.