Request for Disguised Veggie Recipes!
April 14, 2015 8:28 AM   Subscribe

My daughter needs to increase her vegetable intake, but refuses to eat most veggies. What recipes will allow us to disguise her vegetables in other foods?

If you have any helpful resources to suggest, I'd appreciate them, too.

Please Don't Suggest:
* Anything with tomato sauce or juice. Smothering vegetables in marinara sauce will not work. We can't even get her to eat pizza if it has tomato sauce on it.
* Anything with shellfish (oysters, lobster, shrimp, crab, etc.)

She Eats:
* Corn
* Broccoli tops. (If there's a stem attached it's a process to convince her to bite the tops off.)
* Hummus (but not actual chick peas.)
* Loves Sensible Portions Veggie Chips and Veggie Straws, Terra Chips and Pirate Booty.
* Loves Yogurt Smoothies (Am going to try experimenting with adding veggies, any suggestions would be appreciated.)
* Loves most kinds of fruit.
* She never met a chicken finger, bread product, cheese or type of pasta she didn't like. Add visible veggies and all bets are off, though.

She doesn't like:
* asparagus
* avocado / guacamole
* beets
* bok choy
* brussels sprouts
* cabbage
* cauliflower
* celery
* (raw) carrots (will sometimes eat them cooked)
* cucumber
* green beans
* leafy greens
* lentils
* lima beans
* mashed potatoes (Eats french fries, but not nothing else that uses it as a filling)
* mushrooms
* onions (eats the breading of onion rings and leaves the onion)
* parsley
* peas
* peppers
* pickles
* spinach
* squash
* sweet potatoes (She will eat sweet potato french fries on rare occasions)
* tomatoes
* zucchini (also doesn't like the texture of fried zucchini chips) I'm going to try her on zucchini bread this weekend.

Am still open to trying to disguise/incorporate any of the above things she won't eat into a recipe. Except tomato sauce.

I'm a decent cook and know my way around the kitchen. Am willing to put in time and effort for more complicated recipes if needed.

We know that this is in part a texture and taste issue.

She refuses to eat rice/quinoa/couscous or pasta if she sees tiny specks of vegetables mixed in.

And I will definitely be trying the parsnip recipes from the Undercover Veggies episode of Good Eats.

Thanks in advance!
posted by zarq to Food & Drink (68 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
There are at least two cookbooks along these lines: Deceptively Delicious and The Sneaky Chef.
posted by charmedimsure at 8:34 AM on April 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

The blender is your friend. A million variations on hummus.

Also you can make mac n cheese with squash and nut yeast.
posted by aniola at 8:35 AM on April 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

Especially purple hummus (beets)
posted by aniola at 8:36 AM on April 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

cauliflower hides inside of mashed potatoes really well.
posted by nadawi at 8:37 AM on April 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Cut potatoes into long thin pieces (length of potatoes, maybe half inch in the other two dimensions), lightly coat with oil and salt, oven roast, and call them french fries. If that works with white potatoes, you could try the same with sweet potatoes and other root vegetables.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:38 AM on April 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

I didn't think i liked tomatoes but my mom did this whole story about how she didn't like tomatoes as a child and then her favorite brother convinced her to try a cherry tomato cut in half with salt and I LOVED it. I just took some coaxing for that first try.

How is she with baby carrots?
posted by aniola at 8:39 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can hide a huge amount of zucchini in chocolate cake. There are tons of recipes online...I don't remember which one I made a couple years ago, but it was good and you can't see the zucchini bits because of the chocolate. Very moist.

Would it help your daughter if she saw a video of a cute dog eating cauliflower? Because it's my dog's favorite non-cheese treat and I can arrange that.
posted by phunniemee at 8:39 AM on April 14, 2015 [16 favorites]

Zuchini/carrot/beets/squashes all hide well in sweet or savoury muffins.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:39 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mac and cheese is great for hiding pureed vegetables (carrots)

She'll also get a lot of nutrition from clear chicken broth, if she'll go for it. You can make it at home with the veggies she refuses to it.
posted by bq at 8:40 AM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Peas pureed with fresh mint, butter, and parmesan taste completely different.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:41 AM on April 14, 2015

Response by poster: charmedimsure: Will check them out! Thank you.

aniola: Thank you! I looked up purple hummus. That's looks incredibly cool. She does eat baby carrots, sometimes.

nadawi: Unfortunately, she won't eat mashed potatoes. I could try puree-ing cauliflower, tho. Maybe she'd eat that.
posted by zarq at 8:41 AM on April 14, 2015

How old is she? Would she be open to making a "smoothie stand" for you or friends, and be tempted to try her concoctions? I have a 6yo who for the last two years has been very into the 'mastermind' aspect of creating things and happens to eat/drink some stuff as a side effect.

My recipe suggestion is avocado chocolate mousse.
posted by cocoagirl at 8:42 AM on April 14, 2015

My sister says she chops and freezes kale and then blends it into smoothies. I haven't tried it but supposedly it doesn't really alter the taste of smoothies. My typical smoothie recipe for my son is vanilla soy milk, banana, frozen mango or frozen berries, and maybe shredded unsweetened coconut. Using that base you can try blending in frozen (or maybe fresh? frozen would seem to work better) kale and/or spinach and see if she likes it.

The other thing I have wanted to try but haven't is making pancakes with mashed sweet potatoes mixed in. Googling turns up recipes that sound pretty good. I make buckwheat pancakes and typically add in chopped nuts and unsweetened shredded coconut for more fiber/protein/fat. I think you might be able to disguise adding mashed sweet potato by adding nuts and/or blueberries.

One other idea is looking for recipes that replace pasta with some vegetable (zucchini?). Or just make mac n cheese or whatever she likes and mix in some pureed cauliflower (you can make it pretty creamy). Oh, have you tried roasting vegetables with olive oil and some seasoning? My son likes roasted cauliflower with cumin. Roasted zucchini is also pretty good. If she likes hummus you can make hummus like dips by pureeing roasted vegetables too.

Good luck! My son is currently not eating many vegetables, so I've been thinking about the same issues.
posted by JenMarie at 8:42 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

How about soups and/purees? Not much of a disguise, but can help with taste and texture problems. While I wasn't a huge fan of the book French Kids Eat Everything, I did enjoy the s/p recipes, and the way the author focused on teaching taste and texture to her kids as part of veggie/food appreciation.
posted by pepper bird at 8:43 AM on April 14, 2015

I was going to suggest Spaghetti Squash in place of actual spaghetti, but it looks like that's out the window. When you say squash, though, that's a pretty broad range. My kid likes baked pumpkin or acorn squash (both of which are on the sweet side), but there are other squashes he doesn't care for.

What about vegetable-laced breads, like zucchini bread or carrot bread? I often make blueberry muffins with a 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa thrown in for extra protein.

I make a lentil soup that my kid loves (lentils, onions, garlic, sage, thyme and marjoram; I also put diced potatoes and diced sweet potatoes, and lately I've been adding chopped kale at the end for extra fiber, but I think those veg can be considered optional). One of the reasons my kid loves them is because I allow him add croutons on top.

My mom used to make "mashed potatoes" but she made it with half potatoes and half turnips. The potatoes masked the flavor of the turnips, they were just a tad more water-y than regular mashed potatoes. (Oops, looks like that's out).

My kid loves the seaweed which now comes in snack packs at Trader Joes and Costco.

Overall I would say, as long as your kid is getting fiber (from fruit, oatmeal, the veg that she will eat) I wouldn't sweat it too too much. Remember the parenting mantra - "It's just a phase".
posted by vignettist at 8:45 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't see applesauce on your list but my kids love applesauce mixed with pureed carrots from the store. You could experiment with hiding pureed carrots, pureed squash and sweet potatoes, and even greens along the lines of kale smoothies. Pretty much anything tastes good if you mix it with frozen mango and berries and shit.
posted by bq at 8:45 AM on April 14, 2015

You can put quite a lot of spinach or (I hear) kale in a fruit smoothie without tasting it. Just use a dark colored fruit like cherries or raspberries so the smoothie doesn't turn green! My go-to smoothie recipe is: frozen berries, a banana, a handful or two of spinach, Greek yogurt, some almond milk to thin it out. Blend and...DELICIOUSNESS. I'm sure other vegetables can be used as well.
posted by Aquifer at 8:49 AM on April 14, 2015

These sweet potato biscuits? I recently made them with only 6T of fat, clabbered almond milk (1 T vinegar per cup of almond milk) and no added sugar, and they were still plenty sweet. They have been a total hit every time I make them.

Also, you can microwave the sweet potato.

I assume that these would also work with squash or pumpkin.

Also, what about things like sweet potato muffins?
posted by Frowner at 8:51 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Whoever is telling you guys you can't taste kale in a smoothie is a goddamned liar.

Spinach is a much better choice for a neutral green.
posted by phunniemee at 8:51 AM on April 14, 2015 [25 favorites]

so, when my bf was small, he would only eat meatballs. pretty much exclusively. his mother got him to eat sweet and sour pork out at dinner one night by calling it chinese meatballs, which he then ate like gangbusters and was none the wiser until he got older.

what about tempura vegetables with different dipping sauces that she might like (i.e. nacho cheese)? korokke are deep fried mashed potatoes, maybe you could call them japanese french fries?
posted by koroshiya at 8:51 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

does she like pesto? you can hide spinach or kale in it.
posted by nadawi at 8:52 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

There are whole cookbooks full of recipes with disguised vegetables. The Sneaky Chef has particularly good reviews.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:54 AM on April 14, 2015

I'm not sure I'd spend tirme on mashed potatoes -- it's almost a bread. Not sure how much effort cauliflower is worth, but you'd know more than I would; it at least has fiber.

Have you tried edamame? I'd try making it very salty at first, and letting her enjoy popping the soybeans out of the casings.

Have you considered introducing her to gardening? There's nothing like growing vegetables yourself.

Also: pickles? Or just vinegar on fresh vegetables? I used to love anything with vinegar on it when I was a kid.
posted by amtho at 8:55 AM on April 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

Does she like peanut butter? If you google "peanut butter" and "kale" together you can find a family of "stew" recipes, usually attributed to African origin, that seem to have been enjoyed in the English-speaking world for more than half a century—I originally came across this sort of thing in a 1960s cookbook. I definitely don't like most leafy green dishes but I love peanut butter and these recipes work for me.
posted by XMLicious at 8:56 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a lot of food allergies and I'm allergic to tons and tons of fruits and vegetables. I take a handful of vitamins every day to supplement my diet and I would honestly just suggest that for your daughter as well. Vitamins plus fruit (which she eats) and broccoli (which she eats!) puts her way ahead of most of the world in nutrient consumption.
posted by kate blank at 8:57 AM on April 14, 2015 [8 favorites]

Does she like soups? Home made veggie soups with everything pureed to unrecognisable smoothness was how my SIL got my nephew onto veggies. She started with potato & leek soup and slowly worked in cauliflower until a year later it was pretty much just any veg she had in the cupboad. Pumpkin soup or sweet potato is another favourite as it as you can spice it which ever way she fancies, it's great with curry flavors or ginger/asian style too and you can hide carrots in there too.

If she's eating fruit the suggestions to work on smoothies others have had is a great idea.

Pureed not grated veggies hide very well in meatballs & meatloafs, just start with lower amounts so she doesn't catch on then work up to it. Meatballs are also a good finger food which kids love, you don't have to serve them with red sauce, any sauce or no sauce but some butter/cheese on the pasta also works.

Parsnip or veggie chips/fries are good too as is tempura.
posted by wwax at 8:58 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Soups and purees, nthing. I have severe texture issues as well, as well as some heretofore undiagnosed food issues. Pizza with sauce hurts, any marinara sauce gives me heartburn. I love cheese but it doesn't love me.

If you can get her to start liking and enjoying potatoes they do have a lot of vitamins and protiens. Let her cook them, mash them with butter and mlik, experiement with toppings and flavors. I got my kids to eat them last night slathered in cheese and bacon salt.

Until then, take her to an asian food buffet - around here the Japanese and Thai places have deep fried tempura veggies. If you can get her to like those, learn how to do your own. Deep fried sweet potato is so yummy to the kid palette.

Part of the problem of disguising the foods is that doing so also destroys some of the fiber.

Having rown up a picky eater and raising one, our best best idea was to suggest a blind taste test science experiment. The kids cut up all kinds of raw squashes and a couple of pickles and we had to guess what it was by taste and smell (one time we did no smell) and it was a lot of fun.
posted by tilde at 8:58 AM on April 14, 2015

We use a hand blender to mash all veg and then we throw it in anything. Mashed cauliflower or carrots can be mixed in to anything: Mac and cheese etc. Stuff like peppers and onions might be too strong tasting.
posted by catspajammies at 9:00 AM on April 14, 2015

Beet chocolate cake! Doesn't have to be very unhealthy and it uses up a lot of beets.
posted by chaiminda at 9:01 AM on April 14, 2015

Would she be at all amenable to trying new things in a special setting? Going out for Ethiopian food might be just unusual enough (you eat with your haaaaands!) to encourage her to attempt a vegetable. Worst case scenario she has to sit and be sad while the rest of her family enjoys a delicious meal.
posted by phunniemee at 9:02 AM on April 14, 2015 [7 favorites]

Since she likes fruit, cut up some jicama into french-fry size and serve it along with some oranges or whatever. (Don't let her see it unpeeled!) It also pairs great with corn.

If she eats beef and likes hamburgers, you can fill patties up with various veggies, and you might even manage a boca burger or other veggieburger - as long as you don't call it that, of course. Also you can encourage her to make her own choices by presenting her with a very attractive traditional array of burger toppings complete with plenty of vegetable choices.

If she's really into imaginative play and pretending and she has even a small interest in fairies or other magical creatures, she might be enticed to sample leaves with an open mind through a berries, edible flowers & herb salad. (Then you eat the leftovers all fancy with a nice piece of fish.)

Young kids & some people for their whole lives are much more sensitive to bitterness and texture than others. This is for survival reasons (bitter = poison! kids are smaller, more susceptible, etc.) Anyway, my mom's like this and always has been. Her whole life has been forcing herself to eat vegetables. As a little kid, seeing my mom struggle to eat her own peas made me thrilled to eat my own. She also taught me that she always tries a food she doesn't like "seven times" before she can really decide she hates it, and that was what I had to do, too. Seven times, about a month apart for each when we remembered. There are now only two foods I can think of that I really won't eat (natto and yellow squash) and my mom is handling her not-quite-diabetes really well with a constantly but slowly increasing array of vegetables that she likes, even in her 60s. So basically, this is an ongoing process and it might be good to focus on learning to give things a fair chance and keeping an open mind about food rather than (or probably in addition to) lots of carrot apple smoothies. Even if it is just a phase for your kid (like my own pickiness was) it really helped me to know I had control over what I ate, as long as I gave things an honest chance once in a while.
posted by Mizu at 9:12 AM on April 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

White lasagna with finely chopped spinach, zucchini, carrots, etc mixed in with ricotta
Hummus mixed with pureed squash or spinach or many other veggies
Get a spiralizer to make veggie noodles to mix in with regular noodles.
posted by erst at 9:16 AM on April 14, 2015

Vegetable smoothies (spinach/apple/berry, maybe?) frozen into Popsicles. Frozen foods taste less strong, which might help. I notice a lot of the veggies that she doesn't like have strong or bitter flavors.
posted by corey flood at 9:17 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

My son is super, ridiculously picky. Here's what worked for him: Chocolate chip cookies made with avocado replacing butter (I don't know my recipe off-hand, but I know I found it by Googling). Muffins made with grated zucchini and carrot- I would cut them in half and put cream cheese on the cut sides to hide the offensive veggie colors from him. Totally failing on finding that recipe, too, but I found it on a blog somewhere. They have whole-wheat flour and cinnamon, the darker color of the muffin helps to hide the veggies from the outside. Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and muffins are also a hit. I have been 50/50 successful on getting him to eat burgers made with different veggies in them (I use a bunch of Rachel Ray burger recipes- shockingly, he has eaten burgers with spinach mixed in, but I wait until he is pretty absorbed with a cartoon in front of his face before sliding that food in front of him, if he's mindless enough with cartoons I can slip things by kind of easily).

I feel your pain! Something we've been trying to attempt to get a vegetable to knowingly enter his orbit is to have him kiss one bite of new food or vegetable every dinner (but, we're lazy and forgetful so it's not every dinner). We are working up to having him put the offending item into his mouth with the ok to spit it out if he doesn't like it. A friend who works with kids recommended this, we haven't stuck routinely with it enough to say whether it really works, but it helps to take some of the drama out of the situation.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 9:17 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Avocado goes well in smoothies. Certain cooked and pureed vegetables (sweet potatoes, maybe carrots, winter squashes) would also be good.

Non-tomato-based pasta sauces made of various cooked and pureed vegetables might work: cauliflower alfredo, peas blended with broth and Parmesan, a carrot-ricotta sauce, pumpkin sauce, etc.
posted by rebekah at 9:18 AM on April 14, 2015

This just showed up in my feed, maybe has some good ideas?
posted by microcarpetus at 9:20 AM on April 14, 2015

Have you tried hot sauce on her? If she finds it palatable, not only is heat a way to disguise things flavor-wise but I was eating a vegetable stir-fry I'd made with Tabasco and Szechuan peppercorn the other day and I noticed that that combination actually changes my sense of taste temporarily, in some way so that there are a few things I don't normally like that I'm much more willing to eat alongside it.
posted by XMLicious at 9:21 AM on April 14, 2015

Response by poster: So many fantastic suggestions! Thank you!

cocoagirl: Sorry, I should have mentioned. she's seven. I love the idea of a smoothie stand! She likes helping us cook and experimenting. Cool idea, thank you. Will also try the mousse. :)

Mr.Know-it-some: It actually never occurred to us to try feeding her skinny potato slices. Smart! Thank you.

phunniemee: You're incredibly sweet, thank you for the offer. Possibly? She sees us eat cauliflower, but we're a lot less cute than a dog. :D

vignettist: We also figured it was a phase and had been holding off on taking action, but her pediatrician asked us to make sure she eats more vegetables. (She had a higher-than-expected weight gain since last year.)
posted by zarq at 9:22 AM on April 14, 2015

- orange squash can be added to mac and cheese with glorious results
- pureed cooked carrots can be added to sauces and creamy soups
- cauliflower can be riced and treated as rice or orzo
- lentil pasta exists, not sure about the texture though

Don't sweat the stuff like celery and cucumbers and parsley, all of which have little dietary value.

very tasty baked goods can be made with avocado and zucchini and carrots.

do you know if she has any actual digestive issues that might make various veggies unpleasant to eat? sensitivity to pulses and to brassicas is a real thing that is terrible to experience. see also heartburn issues with peppers, pickles, etc. when i was a kid i wasn't really able to properly express that some of my food dislikes were based on legit and factual inability to digest stuff and not just a matter of taste preference and it was A Bad Thing all around.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:29 AM on April 14, 2015

also i suggest the highly controversial but also sometimes highly effective method of outright bribery.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:30 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another thing that occurs to me - I don't know if this would count as a vegetable to you but sweet bean paste is a category of ingredient which is used in all sorts of East Asian desserts, popsicles and sweet soups for example.

In general, lots of East Asian desserts I've come across seem almost like health food in a Western context. Tab Tim Grob ("red rubies" in Thai or something like that, supposedly?) for example: sweetened water chestnuts with coconut. I had a dessert in a Malaysian restaurant once that was a sort of salad of slightly sweet things like corn kernels and bits of mango.
posted by XMLicious at 9:32 AM on April 14, 2015

Would she like carrot-style french fries? You can roast carrots sliced into sticks and sprayed with olive oil with a little curry powder, pepper, and salt, and roast for 25 minutes at 425 degrees.

She might be averse to them because of their shape and color, but edamame beans are sweet and snackable.

Also, you can make a chocolate chip cookie dough substitute by blending a can of rinsed and drained chickpeas, 1/4 cup peanut or almond butter, some almond extract, cinammon, and sweetener of your choice to taste, and maybe a tablespoon or two milk of your choice together depending on how dry the mixture is in a blender or food processor. Then, you can add chocolate chips at the end.
posted by shortyJBot at 9:34 AM on April 14, 2015

These cauliflower biscuits are mad good.
posted by General Malaise at 9:34 AM on April 14, 2015

Just as some starting points:

Pumpkin pancakes
Sweet potato gnocchi (you can just do the butter part)
Broccoli and ham cakes with cheese sauce
posted by warriorqueen at 9:38 AM on April 14, 2015

oh i meant to add - the stuff you should be searching for is "vegan vegetable dessert" or "hidden vegetable desserts".
posted by poffin boffin at 9:40 AM on April 14, 2015

You say no marinara sauce, but what about ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce, etc.? My son is only 18 months, but he will look at a veggie patty with utter disdain until I dip it in a little ketchup, and then he gets excited to eat it.

One thing my mother did when I was a child was to puree veggie-packed soups/stews in the blender. At that point I couldn't identify any of the offending vegetables and would gobble up a bowl without a thought.
posted by gatorae at 9:42 AM on April 14, 2015

Hang on, if the reason she's supposed to be eating more vegetables is to avoid excessive weight gain, is disguising them in chocolate cake really going to help? I admit soup could be great, though.

You've probably already thought of this, but how about giving her a lot of control over how and when she eats them, and which vegetables she eats? Maybe present her with a big poster of lots of colorful vegetables like this or this, and make a big chart for her to list her ratings of flavor, texture, color, etc., so that she has a chance to notice differences between them AND make something really cool. Let her choose which ones to try next. Maybe she'll find something she unexpectedly likes, either something new or something she hadn't considered scientifically before.

I realize this isn't your question (and I'm not a parent, just someone who remembers being a kid), but it's an approach to consider if you haven't yet... Plus, it could teach a little about the world and how research is done :)
posted by amtho at 9:53 AM on April 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

These enchiladas have sweet potatoes hidden in them - my husband never guessed, muah ha ha.

These vegan cinnamon rolls are pretty much all sweet potato.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 10:02 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Lil' Peanut is juuuuuust starting to come around from a toddler insistence on a diet of pizza bianca, crackers, breading from fish sticks and chicken tenders, almost anything fried, milk and any chocolate she could wheedle out of Daddy. She's the only Italian toddler I know who refused to eat pasta for over a year.

So I echo the tempura suggestion, and add potato and zucchini latkes. Frittatas where you use the hand blender to pulverize the veggies in with the eggs, ditto for quiche and mini quiches. If she likes hummus, maybe try baba ganoush as well. Last but not least there is a broccoli fritter recipe on Smitten Kitchen that also manage to get some greens in her.

And last night i managed to get Daddy to eat greens sautéeing some garlic and broccoli in olive oil, hand blending it with cream and adding a buttload of peccorino then tossing with some short pasta
posted by romakimmy at 10:02 AM on April 14, 2015

Pork Dumplings:

Ground Pork
Bok Choy
Won ton wrappers

Chop up the white part of the bok choy very finely. Typically you keep going to have a little leaf, but leaf is green and visible, so maybe you don't. Or maybe you do and tell her it's oregano or something (I'm guessing kid can't distinguish herb flavours so would buy this). Chop til you have a volume of bok choy equal to your volume of pork. Mix the pork and bok choy and some garlic and some ginger in a big bowl (just get your hands in there and start kneading/mixing etc. like one does with ground meat). Yes, you can still see the bok choy. Hold on it's not cooked yet.

Now start wrapping: Put a little filling in a wrapper, fold over. Seal with water. When you've got your wrapping done, fry the won ton in a tiny bit of sesame oil until the outside browns a little. Turn and brown the other side. Now add some (1/3 cup?) water to the pan and cover. Let steam until cooked (basically until water is gone). Take them out and cook the next batch. Dip in a mix of soy sauce, a touch of rice vinegar and a tiny tiny bit of sugar.

Daikon Noodles
Does she eat soup? Buy a high quality spiralizer. Spiralize a daikon. Add "noodles" to soup. Seriously, once you cook them to the right tenderness level, she'll never know they're not pasta. If you're worried at all about bitterness, consider cooking the noodles in a pot of water and dumping that water before adding the noodles the soup. You'll lose some vitamins, but oh well.

Mushrooms in Rice-Based Dishes
Making a rice-based dish other than plain old white rice? Chop mushrooms (white or brown) up finely and add to rice. You can't see them. You can't taste them. For example, I put a whole package of mushrooms in when I make jambalaya from the mix box. A whole package if I make rice-based stuffing. You can literally pick through the rice and not know which piece is rice and which mushroom. Obviously the mushroom:rice ratio is extremely high by volume until the rice cooks up and they mushroom and rice look very different when they're still raw, so you don't want her to see this until cooked.

I assume you've already thought of zuchinni bread, carrot cake, pumkin bread, all of which are delicious. I also like adding canned pumpkin and pumpkin to my morning oatmeal.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:08 AM on April 14, 2015

Oh, and I haven't tried it, but I recently learned about eggplant bacon.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:09 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Does she eat pickles? Because a lot of things can be quick-pickled.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:18 AM on April 14, 2015

For days when you don't have much time to make complicated recipes: we really often relied on Dr. Praeger's spinach and broccoli (frozen) pancakes. (My vegetable-hating kid, who could detect a tablespoon of pureed cauliflower in mac and cheese and would reject the whole thing, would happily eat Dr Praegers broccoli pancakes.) Sometimes I melted a bit of cheese on top.
They also come in kid-sized animal shapes YMMV!
posted by third rail at 10:41 AM on April 14, 2015

Also, have you by chance tried giving her frozen peas straight from the bag? All the kids in my extended family eat peas this way only. They taste sweeter than cooked, have more of a crunch, and seem like a snack.
posted by third rail at 10:45 AM on April 14, 2015

For your daughter, zarq, a dog eating cauliflower. It's the hail mary pass of vegetable warfare.
posted by phunniemee at 10:45 AM on April 14, 2015 [20 favorites]

I hate the HuffPo but it has the best explanation of "Zoodles" that I could find. So, maybe Zoodles will be your daughter's friends as well as my 7- and 4-year old granddaughters', neither of whom are big veggie fans. My daughter makes Zoodles from both zucchini and cauliflower.
posted by Lynsey at 10:59 AM on April 14, 2015

Sweet potato hides well in mac & cheese.

But the big hit in our house (for adults and kids alike), are Pink Pancakes. Pink, because beets! You wouldn't believe how delicious these are, and you'd never guess there's beets! Not so great with maple syrup, but a gentle spindle of icing sugar on top makes them even better. You can find frozen shredded/pureed beets to cut down on some of the kitchen messiness.
posted by Kabanos at 11:34 AM on April 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

I don't know if she'll go for this, but if some of the issues are textural, perhaps try hidden in plain sight, snackified with a textural change: cauliflower popcorn, kale chips.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:54 AM on April 14, 2015

Minced/ground root vegetables in meatloaf.
posted by PMdixon at 12:09 PM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Jamie Oliver has some really great looking recipes for kids.

It could also be worth looking at sites like this one about "Eating a Rainbow", to try to make eating vegetables and fruit more appealing.


Hang on, if the reason she's supposed to be eating more vegetables is to avoid excessive weight gain, is disguising them in chocolate cake really going to help?

Yeah, this. I think that it would be ill-advised to try to sneak vegetables into high calorie foods. Zucchini bread, for one example you mentioned, is delicious, but it is hardly a healthy vehicle for the vegetable. I would think that what is most important is that she is eating a varied diet with the right number of calories, rather than trying to add vegetables to her diet in a way that makes her calorie intake too high.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 1:08 PM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I linked to the wrong Pink Pancake recipe above (though the pictures were great). Here is the one we use.
posted by Kabanos at 1:36 PM on April 14, 2015

If having video of a dog eating food actually does help, I bet you can crowdsource a lot of those here! My dog (also named Truman) loves veggies and I can get you green beans, peas, and some others if you like :)

My kid has issues with textures in food, and only recently came around to purees out of my vitamix being pureed enough (as compared to store-bought). Will she eat any of those pouches with fruits/veggies? You can buy your own reusable pouches and put your purees in there to make that a bit cheaper. I would suggest things like sweet potatoes or squash pureed with applesauce or pears, for example.

My kid loves frozen spinach in a smoothie now; so I definitely nth that suggestion. It's a good way to get in iron, and if you mix it with a vitamin c-containing fruit/veggie (and not dairy), then absorption is better.

What textures is it that you think she does or doesn't like? Feel free to memail me and I can tell you more about my kid's food therapy and what we've tried and the sorts of things we've talked about.
posted by freezer cake at 2:00 PM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm so grateful to you all. Thank you! Will reply as much as I can later this evening and tomorrow morning.

phunnimee, you ROCK. THANK YOU!! Beautiful dog, and cute!
posted by zarq at 2:00 PM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

I throw sweet potatoes (in baby food form) in EVERYTHING.
posted by k8t at 3:24 PM on April 14, 2015

She may find veggies to be bland. Try them with a spicy dip.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:40 PM on April 14, 2015

I declared frozen blueberries to be a vegetable. Ta dah! Now my picky eater is suddenly eating vegetables every day! She'll eat only the teeny ones, so I fondle the bags at Trader Joe's.

I'm not just being glib. Unless you're a botanist, the difference between fruits and vegetables doesn't matter much.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:15 AM on April 15, 2015

The corpse: fruits tend to contain a lot more sugar than vegetables.
posted by amtho at 9:09 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, obviously. But I presume if the OP's kids had diabetes or something that they would have mentioned it. For your average, healthy kid, eating fresh fruit is a fine thing.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:10 PM on April 16, 2015

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