Challenge picky eaters to eat their veggies with this collection of kid-friendly veggie recipes.
December 06, 2010
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Kid-Friendly Vegetable Recipes
Think you can’t serve vegetables other than corn and mashed potatoes to kids or picky eaters? This collection of veggie side dishes and main dishes that sneak in veggies is worth a try on stubborn diners. When possible, let kids help out in the kitchen, challenge them to try new foods by taking them to the store and letting them pick a new veggie to try, or offer vegetables in new ways.
In this recipe for Pasta with Winter Squash and Pine Nuts, butternut squash breaks down as it cooks to create a smooth, hearty sauce for the pasta. Pasta, a pro at pleasing kids, dressed with a vegetable-based sauce, is sure to please veggie-seeking parents and picky kids all at once.
2 of 12Photo: José Picayo
Hoppin' John's Cousin
Traditionally, Hoppin' John is served in the South at New Year's because the black-eyed peas represent coins—they're meant to herald prosperity in the coming year. Tell the kids that eating this dish will make them richer, and they’re sure to bite. Our version, with all its veggies, is a fresher, healthier update. This side dish can be made a day ahead and is, in fact, better after the flavors have had a chance to meld.
3 of 12Photo: Coral Von Zumwalt
Buttered Green Beans and Mushrooms
A small amount of butter goes a long way to make an appealing sauce for simply steamed green beans and two kinds of mushrooms. If your kids balk at mushrooms, prepare the dish and serve just the green beans. Extra mushrooms for the cook are never a bad thing.
4 of 12Photo: John Autry
Pasta with Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce
Adding in as many vegetables as possible to a kid-favorite like pasta is a good way of sneaking in the good stuff. Though we paired this chunky sauce with fettuccine, it would also be nice with short pasta shapes, like penne, gemelli, or farfalle.
5 of 12Photo: John Autry
Edamame, with its sweet taste and crunch, is a surprising kid favorite. It makes a hearty addition to this summer staple. If you can't find frozen, shelled edamame (green soybeans), substitute the more traditional lima beans. Let the kids pick and choose what goes in this dish. They don’t like onions? Leave them out. Teenager going vegetarian? Leave out the bacon. If they make some of the decisions they’re more likely to eat it.
This no-cook meal is one the whole family can help prepare. And toppings can be added to taste. Smoked paprika gives the chicken rich, grill-like flavor—with no cooking. Look for tostada shells (fried, flat corn tortillas) near the flour and corn tortillas or in the Mexican food section of your grocery store.
7 of 12Photo: John Autry
Whole-Wheat Pasta with Edamame, Arugula, and Herbs
Make healthy eating a game. Can you eat all the colors of the rainbow in one meal? This dish almost gets you there with the array of fresh ingredients. Add your picky-eater’s favorite veggies to the mix.
This simple side dish works well with many different main dishes, such as simply-roasted chicken or pork tenderloin. A honey glaze with a hint of orange makes sweet carrots even sweeter. If you’re kids will push it aside if there’s green stuff lurking, leave out the parsley. Or give them a dinner challenge: leave the parsley out of half and see which one they like in a blind taste test. Getting them to try new flavors may be easier if they’re a part of the challenge.
9 of 12Becky Luigart-Stayner
Sweet Potato Casserole
Our version of marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes isn’t just for the holidays. Serve alongside pork or chicken any night of the week. When compared to regular potatoes, sweet potatoes have almost double the filling fiber and more beta-carotene, which boots immunity and helps build bones.
Transform zucchini slices into oven-baked chips for a fun way to eat your veggies. Have the kids help dredge zucchini in breadcrumbs and watch them crisp up in a hot oven. Serve as a side dish or dip in marinara sauce for fun party food.
11 of 12Photo: Ellen Silverman
Buttermilk-Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are usually kid-friendly fare, and giving them a nutrition makeover is simple. Start with microwaving russet potatoes. Their creamy texture will yield smooth mashers, allowing you to add less of the rich mix-ins. We stir in a combo of fat-free milk and naturally thick buttermilk, a small amount of butter, and high-flavor Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
12 of 12Photo: Randy Mayor
Grilled Asparagus Rafts
Pinning asparagus spears together with skewers makes them easier to flip and grill evenly on both sides—and it makes a fun activity for the kids to help out with. A sprinkling of sesame seeds adds crunch and a fun twist on a springtime staple.