When you have a picky eater, the challenge is getting them to try the food before deciding they don’t like it. These recipe ideas include ways to ‘hide’ vegetables in popular dishes that your kids will eat and also includes some side dish suggestions for masking the flavour of plain veggies.

Helpful tips for dealing with picky eaters:

  • Keep offering vegetables until you find some your child likes; don’t assume they hate them all.
  • Offer a disliked food more than once and try preparing it differently before giving up.
  • Invest in an immersion blender for soups, fillings, breads, etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to add oils, sauces, and cheese – they help with digesting and absorbing the fat-soluble nutrients found in vegetables.

Ideas for making your own recipes more versatile:

  • Grate up a courgette and add it to the wet ingredients of your favourite sweet breads – banana nut, blueberry, poppy seed, etc.
  • Steamed cauliflower tastes great in mashed potatoes and hides well.
  • Sauces, gravies, and casseroles are easy to modify and help hide the taste of veggies
  • Side dishes containing a mixture of high-flavour starch (rice, pasta, potatoes) mix well and mask vegetable flavours – mix in peas, carrots, peppers, spinach, kale, eggplant, tomatoes, etc.
  • When all else fails, make a smoothie with vegetables literally hidden inside!

Looking for something new or a twist on something old?  These recipes are use versatile methods of masking veggies and they taste great!  Try them with your favourite vegetables!

Cheese & Broccoli Soup (serves 6)

Cream based soups like potato, broccoli, and asparagus are great for using an immersion mixer to make veggies appear to disappear.

  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup frozen or fresh chopped onion
  • 2 cups frozen or raw chopped broccoli
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup cornflour
  • 1 cup water

1. In a large pot, melt butter and add chopped onion.  Sauté until tender.
2. Add broccoli and stock to pot and simmer about fifteen minutes, or until broccoli is cooked to preference.
3. Add milk and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
4. In a small bowl, add cornflour to water and blend.  Stir mixture into pot and continue simmering.
5. Gradually stir in shredded cheddar cheese to soup until cheese is melted and thoroughly incorporated.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.
6. Optional – use an immersion blender to smooth the soup and liquefy the broccoli.

Creamy Chicken Lasagne (serves 12)

(Photo contributed by Stephanie Hoskins)

The ricotta layer of any lasagne can be modified in the same as this recipe. Zucchini and mushrooms can be replaced according to preference – vegetables that soften when cooked are ideal: broccoli, pumpkin, spinach, capsicum, etc.

  • 450 grms uncooked chicken
  • 3 cups water
  • 12 oven prepared lasagne sheets
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 225 grms diced zucchini
  • 225 grms sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 450 grms ricotta or cottage cheese
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • Dried parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 177 degrees C

Cook the chicken:

1. In large pot, combine water & uncooked meat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until cooked, about thirty minutes.
2. Remove meat from stock and reserve two cups of broth, set aside.
3. Shred chicken or turkey with two forks, set aside.

Prepare the veggies:

4. Place olive oil in skillet or sauté pan and cook garlic, mushrooms and zucchini on medium heat until soft, stirring frequently for about ten minutes.
5. In a medium bowl, add cooked vegetables to ricotta or cottage cheese and stir until mixed.
6. Using an immersion blender, blend the vegetables and cheese together until smooth. (optional step for kids that tend to pick veg pieces out of the food)

Prepare the sauce:

7. In a saucepan, melt ½ cup butter on medium heat until bubbly.
8. Slowly whisk in ½ cup flour, stirring constantly until thoroughly mixed.
9. Add 2 cups of reserved stock water to the flour and butter mixture and whisk vigorously until blended.
10. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in 1 cup milk.
11. Add Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and bring to simmer, stirring often until the sauce becomes thick. Remove from heat.

Assemble and bake the lasagne:

12. In a large baking dish, spread enough sauce out to cover the bottom of the pan.
13. Place 3-4 lasagne noodles over the sauce and spread about a third of vegetable/cheese mixture over the lasagne.  Cover the cheese blend with one third of the shredded meat and some of the sauce. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella evenly over the top.
14. Follow this process for two or three more layers, adding the rest of the sauce over the final top layer, sprinkling the rest of the mozzarella and the grated parmesan and parsley on top last.
15. Bake for one hour in preheated oven, until the edges are bubbling.

Avocado Chicken Salad

  • 2 medium sized ripe avocados, peeled
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. bacon pieces, cooked crisp
  • ½ cream dressing (ranch, Caesar, Russian)
  • 1 cup boneless chicken, shredded and cooked
  • 1 large diced tomato, seeds & liquid removed
  • 1/8 cup chopped black or Kalamata olives

1. In a medium bowl, mash avocado with a spoon or potato masher until no longer lumpy.
2. Add onion powder and any other preferred seasonings (garlic, salt, pepper).
3. Stir in dressing until avocado mixture is smooth.
4. Add shredded chicken, bacon, tomato, and olives and mix thoroughly.
5. Serve on tortillas, toast, and pita bread. Also makes a tasty dip on other vegetables, pita chips, or crackers.

Stir-Fried Veggies

A very versatile recipe that works well with most vegetables. Raw can easily be substituted for frozen, just steam them a bit ahead of time.

  • 4 cups frozen vegetables
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp. of preferred spice: suggestions – Chinese 5 spice, garlic powder, cumin, basil, rosemary

1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet.  When oil is bubbly, add veggies and stir continuously over high heat for 5-10 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and toss vegetables in preferred spices.

Bon appetit!