Sneaky Vegetables: 5 Ways for Kids to Eat Their Greens (+ Bonus Recipe!)

Sneaky Vegetables: 5 Ways for Kids to Eat Their Greens (+ Bonus Recipe!)

This week, Tess Masters, The Blender Girl, reminds us that keeping kids honestly healthy sometimes means you have to use your imagination. Enjoy these quick tips and a delicious chocolate shake recipe to get your greens in--they work for adults, too...

Introducing children to a variety of vegetables early is an important part of developing healthy eating habits that last a lifetime. However, for picky eaters you need to get creative in order to maintain a balanced diet. It's key to be as transparent as possible to get your kids to trust your choices for their nutrition, but things don't have to be quite what they appear. Have your little one watch or help prepare so they can see you work your magic.

By enhancing some already kid-approved favorites, you can “sneak” in needed veggies. Check out my most popular ideas below:

1. Pasta and Pizza Sauce: Pairing veggies with tomatoes makes for a rich and delicious tomato sauce that looks and tastes like a conventional bottled variety, but is loaded with nutrients. Try grated carrots, broccoli stalks, diced celery, or chopped peppers to start. You can use this sauce as a healthier base for pizza, too! For even more vegetables, try spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini for veggie noodles instead of traditional pasta.

2. Macaroni and Cheese: Fortify your favorite recipe with 1 cup of pureed cauliflower, butternut squash, carrots, or sweet potato for a white or slightly orange cheesy color. Or better yet, make a super healthy cauliflower mac and cheese.

3. Mashed Potatoes: Add some nutrition to this popular dish with a bit of mashed, cooked cauliflower or parsnips. Or try serving a mock cauliflower mash or this cauliflower millet mash which contains lots of protein and other nutrients, but looks like the real deal.

4. Desserts: Use vegetables as a base to create healthier desserts that kids will love! Avocado makes a great base for chocolate pudding or “key lime” pudding, and frozen baked and sliced sweet potato for allergy-free chocolate ice cream. Carrot cake chia pudding and green pudding using spinach are always a hit for the holidays.

5. Smoothies: This is the ultimate way to sneak raw and cooked veggies into delicious blends. Because our taste buds are temperature sensitive, we can’t taste the full dimension of flavors at extremely cold temperatures. So, ¼ cup of frozen spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots goes into most sweet blends undetected. Cooked and cooled cauliflower is also an easy addition to sweet smoothies. When adding leafy greens to smoothies, pair them with vibrant crimson co-stars like berries, beets, red grapes, and grape or pomegranate juice to keep a pretty purple color. In a pinch, you can also add real food supplements to smoothies for added nutrition.

My favorite way to pack a lot of veggies into a smoothie is to make a seemingly typical chocolate milkshake. This shake is so delicious and creamy, your kids will never know that it is loaded with vegetables. Have them take a peek at the process and they'll be pleasantly surprised with the results!

Sneaky Vegetables: Getting Kids to Eat Their Greens (5 Ways + Recipe)

Chock-Full Chocolate Surprise

Shop organic when possible - serves 2 to 4

1 cup unsweetened soy, rice, hemp, or almond milk

1/2 cup firmly packed baby spinach

1/4 cup frozen broccoli (about 2 florets)

1 banana, plus more to taste

1/2 ripe pear, cored, plus more to taste

1 cup steamed cauliflower florets (steamed and cooled), or an extra banana (to save time if you don’t have a bit of leftover cauliflower)

2 tablespoons cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, plus more to taste

1 cup ice cubes

Throw everything into your blender and puree on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth and creamy. Tweak flavors to taste (you may like a bit more banana, pear, cacao, vanilla, or maple syrup). Note: This smoothie is best consumed immediately, or the day it is made.

~Tess Masters

Tess Masters ( is a presenter, cook, and author of The Blender Girl cookbook and The Blender Girl Smoothies app

Reprinted with permission from The Blender Girl by Tess Masters, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

Photography (c) 2014 by Anson Smart

We aim to provide you with the most honest and credible information possible. This article was reviewed for accuracy by The Honest Team and was written based on trusted sources that are linked at the bottom of the article.