We have a small vegetable crisis in our house. It’s actually not the supply of fresh vegetables, but the lack of consumption of such a nutritious food group.
And honestly, I am so sick of the three vegetables I am “allowed” to serve: green beans, broccoli, and salad with minimal toppings.
So, I devised a plan: to sneak as many vegetables into their favorite meals without destroying the meal itself.
Here is what’s worked so far (“worked” being loosely defined as in it was eaten despite grotesque faces being made):
- Lasagna – I added ½ of a yellow squash and ½ of a zucchini to a traditional lasagna recipe. My family has a major opposition to squash because of the mushy texture when cooked. To fix this, I put it in the food processor then sautéed it in onions before adding it to the meat. I was hoping the food processing and sautéing would disguise it completely, but the teen busted me because she could see the tiny bits of green skin. However, she did say that while she could taste the vegetables, it was “edible.” Note for next time: I think I am going to try to hide it in a chunky tomato sauce instead and worst case scenario I will remove the skin.
- Tacos – I added a can of black beans to the ground beef. My littlest ones love beans and will eat them cold out of the can, but my husband and the teen aren’t crazy about the texture. Something about the way they squish when you bite into them. For the first round, I actually roughly chopped the beans to help cut down on the squish factor. Second time around I just left them whole and was surprised when no one complained. I think with tacos they are more prepared for all of the different textures because of all the additional toppings.
- Veggie rich packaged foods – I am experimenting with packaged items that have been made with a partial serving of vegetables. Two examples of this are quite common, vegetable pasta and vegetable wraps. It does change the flavor and consistency a little but it is easily disguised by other ingredients such as tomato sauce or meat. This helps me feel a little better about serving such carb laden foods. I’ve been using Barilla pasta, but there are several major brands that now carry a veggie line.
- Quiche – The trick with quiche is to add a bland vegetable such as spinach or peppers and sauté it with onions. Also, I started with tiny bits at first and then I’ve been slowly raising the proportion of vegetable to egg/meat/cheese.
- Tomato sauce – I typically buy chunky tomato sauce, so it is very easy to add sautéed vegetables or chopped kale into it. The trick is to cut it small and keep the ratio of vegetable to sauce low. And you can raise the ratio as your family gets more accustomed to the new textures and flavors. Adding browned ground beef or sausage can mask most flavors.
So, short and sweet. I will definitely keep you in the loop as I continue my experiment.
Have you had any luck hiding vegetables or beans into your family’s regular meals?
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