I have extensively studied the connection between diet and disease (read my summary of The China Study) and know the importance of incorporating plenty of vegetables. When I first became a mother it was a huge priority for my children to have a clean diet with a great variety from Mother Nature’s fruit and veggie rainbow. Despite my efforts, this of course didn’t happen…Ha, funny thinking back to what you think parenting will be like and the reality of these little people with their huge opinions! So I became sneaky and started hiding veggies in different recipes - my picky kids love all of these (which says a lot). Also here’s a few tips to take or leave based on my experience and mistakes (laughing at myself that I’m offering advice on picky eating…this was a MAJOR deal at our house for years, but has finally started to improve!)
1) Don’t make a huge deal about it (like I did…). I made food a huge issue, especially with my daughter which turned it into a control thing for her.
2) Kids love to snack, which ruins their appetite at lunch and dinner. The only snack I allow is cut up veggies and sometimes fruit - I don’t do bread, crackers, goldfish, pretzels, etc. If you are “so hungry I’m dying of death” like my daughter always says, here are some carrot sticks. I got my six year old this knife set for kids and she loves helping prep veggies now, which makes her more likely to eat them.
3) Don’t make alternative meals if they don’t like it, but do include one thing on the plate you know they’ll eat.
4) Figure out what veggies they do like and go with it - my son likes chopped up cucumbers, both kids love avocado (thank you Jesus) and my daughter loves roasted cauliflower. Try steaming, roasting, raw - many options. My son also loves green smoothies (again, thank you Jesus), so we do a lot of them, sometimes twice a day!
5) I aim to have one veggie as a part of every meal. For breakfast its a muffin (recipes below) and smoothie or “mommy pancake". Lunch I usually send them a guacamole sandwich on homemade sour-dough bread and either green applesauce (recipe below) carrots or cucumbers. For dinner, roasted cauliflower, green applesauce, avocado slices, roasted beets….
6) I have taken Juice Plus for over 15 years now and started my kids as infants. It provides all the servings of fruits and veggies that you need in a day. I feel confident knowing my children are getting the nutrients from whole foods in Juice Plus that they need, when they might not be getting all servings from the food I feed them!
I make a smoothie for my kids EVERY SINGLE MORNING, except for Saturday (Saturday is a “special treat” day rewarding for a week of good eating and my husband makes pancakes (it’s a BIG deal and I bribe all week leading up to it).. I don’t give them any more breakfast until it’s gone (we don’t do cereal - they also get a muffin (recipes below) and hard-boiled egg) and do a silly happy dance when I hear the empty straw at the end. Here is an old blog post I wrote about making smoothies with some tips, but this is the standard we make. I don't use plastic cups and we love simple 8oz/half-pint mason jars (have never broken one in the 5 years we’ve been using them) and the kids love their Glass Dharma smoothie straws.
I LOVE my Vitamix blender (basic model I bought from Costco, have never wished for more features). Add the following ingredients (liquids first) and blend away!
Almond or coconut milk
1/2 banana (I would start out with a whole banana and taper down to just 1/2 - loads of sugar, I call them “jungle’s sugar stick”)
1/3 cup of organic mixed berries
big handful of organic greens (I like a mix of Swiss Chard, Spinach, Kale for variety)
A couple pieces of organic broccoli
1T flax, 1T chia seeds, 1T hemp seeds, a couple tablespoons of pumpkin seeds (which I try to put in everything possible, excellent source of Magnesium)
1/2 scoop of Juice Plus Complete (we rotate chocolate and vanilla)
Vanilla Pumpkin Protein "Mommy Pancakes"
(my kids call them “Mommy Pancakes” - “Daddy Pancakes” are the special treat Trader Joe’s gluten free pancake mix my husband makes for them Saturday morning. Any food titled Mommy’s tend to be green at our house…). I use these for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, will spread with a tiny bit of Herbs’ Creamed Honey (which is TO DIE FOR GOOD - we LOVE the cinnamon bun the most!!) .
- 1.5 cups garbonzo/chickpea flour
- 1/2 tsp cream of tarter
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp (large pinch) Himalayan salt
- 1/8-1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3/4 cup pumpkin purée (Trader Joe’s is BEST IMO - during the holidays I buy up a case cause its seasonal only)
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup avocado or olive oil
- 2 cups spinach or kale or chard (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
- 1 Tbsp organic black strap molasses for added minerals (optional but you can't taste it!)
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high till smooth. The batter tastes a little funky but tastes great when baked. I failed miserably at making them traditional pancake style in the skillet and baked them in the oven. Grease a cookie sheet, and pour and spread the batter in - bake for 12 minutes at 350. Cut up leftovers and freeze!
2 cups of GF oats (ground to make flour) or 2 cups of the Gluten Free all-purpose mix (which makes a better “muffin” texture than the oats).
Rest of dry mix:
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (we use ¼ cup)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
1tsp to 1 T Cinnamon (we use A LOT of cinnamon) OR sub a tsp of pumpkin spice
In a blender blend till smooth:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 cup milk of choice (we use almond)
2 cups of greens of choice - spinach, kale, chard, broccoli
Mix Dry ingredients, blend wet ingredients. Pour Wet into the Dry mix. Bake at 350 until knife comes out clean - my oven takes about 27 minutes. The regular pastel colored muffin cups won't work, stick to the sides - I only use “If You Care” brand in the craft brown box. It has a slightly different consistency than most muffins, very soft/ a little mushy but so good!! This recipe is fun to play around with different combinations. Optional add ins • chocolate chips, cranberries, raisins, have fun! Also optional to change out veggies to carrots, sweet potato, zucchini - lots of creative choices to play around with!
Chocolate Kale Muffins
1) Sift together the dry ingredients:
1 cup of whole wheat flour (we use gluten free or almond meal)
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
2) Whisk together in another bowl:
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 tsp of vanilla
3) In a blender combine:
3 ripe bananas
3 cups of de-stemmed kale (I just do one nice sized bundle - it will feel like a lot in the blender)
It will create a mixture the most gorgeous shade of green! Add the sugar/oil/egg mixture to the blender and combine on a slow speed. Then add the blender mixture to the flour mixture. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until done. These freeze awesome.
This one is so easy! Add either organic spinach or organic power greens to organic applesauce and blend away! I have never tried this in anything other than my Vitamix, which is super powerful and doesn’t leave any bits at all. The spinach especially is so mild you really don't taste it at all. We put it in a Squooshi pouch (LOVE these! There was a time that my son would eat whatever I put in them)
I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear your tricks and favorite sneaky recipes!!! Please let me know if you have any success with this :)