Stealth Vegetables


Surprise Picky Eaters With Foods They Hate To Love

Children of all ages (and some adults, too) can be picky eaters. Ensuring they eat a healthy variety of vegetables can be difficult.  If this is your challenge, you’ll find some strategies here for turning vegetables into nutritional ninjas who will sneak into the diets of your picky eaters.  Some ideas to consider:  

  • You can hide almost any cooked vegetable in tomato/spaghetti sauce. If you’re pressed for time, buy pre-made sauces that include multiple vegetables like Catelli’s Garden Select line of sauces.
  • A number of companies make fruit juices that also contain vegetable juices: V8, Bolthouse, Arthurs.
  • It’s easy to “hide” mashed sweet potato and grated carrot or zucchini in sandwich fillings like egg salad or tuna salad.
  • Vegetables can easily be added to meat loaf – try sweet potato, zucchini, carrot, or cabbage. The key is to mash or grate the vegetable finely so it doesn’t make an obvious change to the texture of the meatloaf. None of these vegetables will alter the flavour significantly. Serve the meatloaf with tomato sauce instead of ketchup for added nutrition.
  • Kids will often eat vegetables in a soup that they won’t eat when served as a side dish. As a time saver, fold left-over or frozen vegetables into a pre-prepared soup. If you’re buying canned soups, look for ones that are lower in sodium.
  • It’s easy to serve fruits and vegetables in baked goods. Substitute apple sauce for up to 1/3 the amount of oil called for in muffin or cake recipes. Chocolate zucchini cake and carrot cake are favourites in many families.
  • Sometimes renaming a dish makes a difference. For example, kids who won’t go near Vegetarian Chilli will try Spicy Mexican Casserole, particularly if they don’t know what the ingredients are.

For more on these and other ideas, check out the following resources:

Stealth Health by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD

Michael Smith’s Hidden Vegetable Tomato Sauce

Mary Ann Gratton’s What’s for dinner? I’ll never tell

Dr. Briffa: ‘Stealth vegetables’ and other tactics for getting healthy food into our kids

Diane’s Kitchen: Semi-Stealth Veggies

Parenting tips: how to sneak vegetables into your child’s diet

Sneaky Vegetables: Learn how to sneak healthy foods into your family’s meals

The Eat-A-Rainbow Game