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Listen now: Hiding veggies in meals for fussy children

Helpful tips to get children eating veggies from a young age.

Kids can be fussy eaters – some refuse veggies, some refuse meat, and some refuse both. Knowing what food’s good for your children and getting them to eat it are two very different things.

While there are some simple tricks parents can do to smuggle nutrients into meals – such as inside stews, sauces and soups – it’s always useful to learn new creative and delicious ways to get meat and veggies into family meals.

Allie Gaunt, co-founder of One Handed Cooks shares her tips and favourite recipes for making mealtime an enjoyable and healthy experience for the whole family.

1. Chicken and eggplant sausage rolls 

Children tend to avoid meat for a variety of reasons; the texture, the taste, perhaps they’ve tried it overcooked and it’s too tough for them to chew. What’s more, chicken has a particular texture which some kids just can’t seem to get past.

One way to pack in loads of veggies is by hiding them inside sausage rolls. While pastry isn’t something that should be served every day, most kids will eat a sausage roll no matter what’s inside.

Almost any nutritious vegetable combinations will do. Just remember to choose good quality lean meats, because if you’re going to wrap something in pastry, make sure the insides are as nutritious as possible.

2. Power meatballs

Meatballs are often really popular with kids. Plus, they are easy to make and can be packed full of goodness – like chia, quinoa, veggies and meat. Serve these with a veggie packed tomato-based sauce, or sprinkle some cheese on top to pop under the grill for a few minutes.

3. Broccomole

Children love dips. They’re a food associated with parties and a bit of fun. So if your kids are already keen on hummus or guacamole, they’ll love this broccoli-based delight. ‘Broccomole’ dip is a familiar way to enjoy the goodness of broccoli, yet tastes just like guacamole and can be used as a dip or spread.

Tips to enjoy veggies as they are

While hiding veggies is a popular solution for parents who are at their wits end – never stop offering veggies altogether. Here are Allie’s tips to encourage kids to enjoy their veggies as they are:

  1. Introduce all varieties of veggies in different ways right from the start.
  2. Make veggies visible on your child’s plate in their natural shape, roasted, steamed or raw.
  3. Continue to offer vegetables again and again, as it can take 10 to 20 times before children begin accepting them.
  4. When introducing new veggies to your child, or veggies that have previously been refused, always offer them with foods that you know your child loves.
  5. Make sure you demonstrate positive eating behaviours to your children and enjoy a variety of veggies with them.
  6. Take children shopping and let them pick out vegetables they want to try.
  7. Never try to force veggies on your child, as that’s when you’ll often see more kickback.

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