At the end of the day, it all boils down to knowing what your kids like and don’t like and doing your best. But it’s worth testing a number of sneaky methods to trick them into a healthier diet

Getting children to eat their greens has been a struggle in almost every period of history. Let’s face it, kids just aren’t thrilled about eating their veggies even if they are prepared in the most elaborate or delectable ways. This is partially due to kids having twice as many tastebuds as adults (10,000 to 5,000) and hence reacting more strongly to flavor (not to mention just being typically picky kids). Here are just a few suggestions on how to feed your little ones the vitamins they need in a fun way.

Using vegetables in different forms such as patties or nuggets is a great way for kids to like them. (iStock Photo)

Cruciferous nuggets

Just hearing the word “nuggets” is enough to get most kids’ attention and prompt them to at least give them a try. Paired with a garnish of their choice, this can serve as a nice side dish for pasta or rice – or even sandwich filling.

Ingredients

Nuggets

  • 500 grams broccoli or cauliflower
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • salt, pepper, cheese (to taste)

Coating

  • flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2-4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • oil for frying

Instructions

Dice or grate the carrots and steam the broccoli until it goes soft but not too mushy. Mash the vegetables together with some finely chopped garlic, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. You can also add some grated cheese for some extra flavor, though a type of cheese with a stronger tang is ideal. Knead the ingredients until the mixture holds when formed into a ball. Here, my only advice would be to go slow and steady with the breadcrumbs, add this little by little to see how the texture improves. If needed, add more to firm it up.

Roll the nugget mixture into walnut-sized balls. Roll these in a little flour, then dip in some whisked egg, then in breadcrumbs once more before tossing onto a lightly oiled pan to fry. Then, let them sizzle until the coating has a nice golden color and serve.

Tips

The ingredients for this dish are entirely up to you. I love to add a very strong and salty cheese that does not easily melt. Thanks to that flavor I have no need to add any more salt.

For a lighter version, you can bake the nuggets in the oven. Just make sure to sprinkle a bit of oil on your baking sheet before cooking.

Instead of frying hash browns in a pan, try baking them in the oven. (iStock Photo)

Oven-baked hash browns

When it comes to healthy foods, hash browns don’t exactly have the best reputation as they are fried, but kids sure do love some potatoes! So, here is a healthier and less oily spin on the hash brown classic.

Ingredients

  • 500 grams potatoes
  • 1-2 onions
  • 1 egg
  • salt, pepper (to taste)
  • oil

Instructions

Grate both potatoes and onions and let them sit. After a few minutes, squeeze them and let the fluid drain away. Add a little oil, the egg and seasonings of your preference to the mix and give it a good knead. Spread the mixture onto a baking tin lined with parchment paper and bake until it turns golden at about 180-200 degrees Celsius (356-392 Fahrenheit).

Tips

The beauty of this recipe is that you can mix it up as you like! You like cheese? Add some. A fan of different spices such as thyme, cumin, garlic or alike? Then throw them in.

You can portion the hash browns into individual pieces and bake them like that. If you want to be really fancy you can even use a cookie cutter and very slightly press down on the mixture to create shapes and bake it like that.

If you are craving a richer flavor you can swap out the vegetable oil for some butter.

You can make your cacık more watery depending on your preferences. (iStock Photo)

Ultimate veggie dip: Cacık (Tzatziki)

In the summer heat, any kind of refreshing food feels like a godsend, and the kids will surely agree. So, why not serve up this Ottoman classic with some veggies cut into sticks?

Ingredients

  • 400 milliliters yogurt
  • 4 big cucumbers
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • half a bundle of dill
  • salt, dried mint, olive oil (to taste)

Instructions

If you do not like cucumber skin peel beforehand and then grate thinly. Finely chop the garlic and dill and add to the cucumbers. Add the yogurt to the mixture and top it off with some seasoning. Mix until completely blended. You can serve this in a bowl with a dash of olive oil over it for a dose of healthy fats and extra taste.

Tips

Depending on how thick your yogurt is you can add just a tad of water to make it more liquidy. Just make sure to mix the water with the yogurt before you add the other ingredients.

Adding vegetables to otherwise plain dishes is a great place to start. (iStock Photo)

Loaded oven-baked pasta

This one is great when you have leftover pasta and odd vegetables in the kitchens. Not enough to make a whole dish one way or the other.

Ingredients

  • vegetables – carrots, corn, etc.
  • leftover pasta
  • 2 eggs
  • 400 milliliters milk
  • salt, pepper and other seasonings
  • cheese (optional)

Instructions

Whisk the eggs and milk together in a bowl and add some seasoning. Chop the vegetables you have available into smaller pieces and toss them together with the pasta, pouring the mix into a baking dish of your choice. If you have chosen tougher/harder to cook veggies such as carrots, steam these until they have slightly softened before adding to the dish. Then, pour the eggy milk mixture over the whole dish and bake at 180 Celsius in the oven or until it turns a golden brown. Close toward the end, you can add some grated cheese on top and let it melt or leave it a little longer until it gets crunchy brown.

Tips

The more veggies the better it is for this recipe! Don’t be afraid to mix it up with different kinds of vegetables, just be aware of textures. Carrots are, as mentioned above, a bit tougher to bake through than mushrooms or others.

When making cream of mushroom soup, try to choose milder-flavored mushrooms. (iStock Photo)

Mushroom soup

Smoothies might be the obvious choice here, but a bowl of soup is highly nutritious and fun for the whole family. Mushrooms do have an interesting flavor that some kids may not like, but as they are not as strong as some other vegetables this could be a good place to start.

Ingredients

  • 500 grams mushrooms of your choice
  • 1-2 onions
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 liter water or vegetable stock
  • 200 milliliters heavy cream
  • salt, pepper

Instructions

Clean the mushrooms and either slice or coarsely dice (depending on how much your child wants the actual mushroom in their soup. Melt butter in a pot of your choice and slightly fry some finely chopped onions with the mushrooms. After a few minutes, add in the flour and let that steam together for a minute while stirring continuously. Add water or vegetable stock to the mixture while whisking to get rid of any clumps. Add some seasoning to your liking and let it cook for about 5-10 minutes. Once cooked, turn off the heat and mix in the heavy cream.

Tips

Different kinds of mushrooms will give the soup different tastes of intensity so try to find one your kids are more likely to eat up.

If chunks in soups are a big no-no for your children, you can run the soup through a blender to get a smooth texture and even add some heavy cream a the end.