Sneaky Ways to Get Kids to Eat Their Vegetables

When cooking Italian dishes like lasagna, add broccoli or spinach.

Many parents know it can be a challenge to get kids to eat healthy foods. Serving piles of vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins might be our goal, but it might not guarantee that children will actually eat them.

Chicago-based registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner offers tips for upping the nutrients in family meals without your kids suspecting a thing.

• Pack the meatloaf with vegetables: If meatloaf is a family favorite, you’re in luck. It’s easy to add finely grated vegetables like carrots into your meatloaf mix without anyone being the wiser. Carrots are loaded with nutrients such as fiber, potassium and beta-carotene. Or try adding minced celery, green peppers or spinach to meatloaf for a nutrition boost. You can also combine cooked lentils with your ground beef for a leaner meatloaf without sacrificing flavor.

• Italian favorites with added veggies: When cooking Italian dishes like lasagna, adding chopped broccoli or spinach to one of your layers is an easy way to increase its nutritional value. Boost nutrition of jarred pasta sauce for any Italian dish by pureeing in your favorite cooked veggies like broccoli, carrots, squash or peppers without anyone noticing. This powered-up sauce is great for making homemade superfood pizza, too.

• Asian stir fry at home: Instead of relying on Asian takeout meals, make stir fry at home. It’s quick and easy, and you can buy pre-cut chicken or beef to speed up your prep time. Get fresh or frozen veggies like sugar snap peas, grated carrots, broccoli florets and peppers and stir fry with soy sauce and a bit of ginger and garlic powder. It’s a high-veggie, craveable meal loaded with vitamins and fiber. Serve with brown rice instead of white for even more nutrition.

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