expats · food · health · life

Hidden vegetables recipes for your picky eater

After getting kid number two, I understood one thing: I have to pick my battles. When E. joined us, he would refuse almost any fruit or vegetable. I was fighting to teach him more important things and I couldn’t battle on food as well. Beside that, it was a war I could not win against a toddler. At the same time, I could not face the idea of him not eating healthy, so I became a wizard in hiding vegetables in food. Everyone’s happy and deep down I like to believe that he’ll learn to appreciate the taste of new things as well. I know, what a fool I am.
Here are some of my best recipes which made all kids happy – enough to eat at least – and mum feeling as the best criminal mind (for a good purpose).

Zucchini fried balls


Mwahahah no one suspected anything when I served these. And you know what? They were so good that I ate them until sick. The recipe is quite simple, but there’s a one hour waiting time which can be a bummer. Good news is that you can prepare them beforehand, keep them in the fridge, and fry them at the last minute.
Ingredients (4 portions)
800 g of zucchini
80 g of cream cheese (ex. Philadelphia cheese)
1 egg
100 g of grated parmesan cheese (can be replaced with bread crumbs)
300 g (about) of bread crumbs
salt and pepper
oil for frying
Wash and finely grate the zucchini. Put them in a colander with some salt and a weight on top for an hour, so that they lose their water. When you retrieve them, push them with a spoon so that they lose as much water as possible. Mix them in a bowl with the other ingredients and add bread crumbs until you feel you can roll the dough in balls. Roll the balls in some extra bread crumbs and fry in oil until crispy.

Feta and spinach savoury pie

This is one of my favourites, especially when I am working full time and I cannot use much time for cooking dinner. It’s easy, quick, and tasty. Again, this is something which can be prepared beforehand and stored in the fridge, cooked or not.
600 g of frozen spinach
1 feta cheese (about 200 g)
1 egg
5 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese (optional)
one round savoury pie crust (I find them frozen and ready)
pepper and little salt
Boil the spinach – I do that in the microwave – and then throw them in the mixer with the cheese and the egg. Brutally mix to erase any proof of the presence of vegetables and minimise the effect of “Muuuum there’s hair in my pie! I’m not eating that!” naturally caused by spinach. Roll the pie crust and throw in the mixture. Cook at 190C for 30-40 minutes.
Trivia: in the summer I replace the spinach with nettles.

Criminal smoothies


Smoothie is the perfect snack during summertime and I find it very easy to sneak veggies inside them from time to time. I must say I’m even growing bold at what I throw in. The main secret is to use bland-flavoured vegetables and sweet fruit.
Great cover-up fruit: mango, strawberry, blueberry, kiwi.
Bland fruit to add body: banana, apple, avocado (not too much).
Sneaky veggies: raw carrot, raw celery (cut finely along its length or you’ll get strings in the smoothie), cucumber, salad.
I simply throw the ingredients – some still frozen – into the blender. Sometime if I still need to adjust the flavour, I add some honey as well. If the smoothie is too thick I make it more runny with milk. If you are introducing smoothies to the kids for the first time, don’t forget presentation. The very first time I put them in nice glasses, added a coloured straw – game changer – and even topped it with sugar sprinkles. Then I proceeded to take away the amenities as they learned to appreciate the snack. I know, it sounds crazy, but if you are parent to a toddler you know what I am talking about.

Mashed cauliflow… I mean potatoes!

Whooops! Almost gave myself away. I got this evil idea from a restaurant and I thought – I didn’t notice the flavour, will they? Answer is they kinda noticed something weird, but ate it anyway. Not their favourites, but a great trick to sneak cauliflower in sometime.
The recipe is so simple is doesn’t even deserve to list ingredients. Just cook chopped cauliflower and some potatoes in a covered pot with little water. When they are all tender, mix with an immersion blender. Add salt, pepper, and fresh chopped thyme if you feel fancy. Then lie your face off and tell it’s just mashed potatoes.

I hope I gave you some ideas for dinner or a snack. If you try them out, make sure to drop a comment down below and tell me how it went. Bon appétit!

5 thoughts on “Hidden vegetables recipes for your picky eater

  1. I would’ve thought the easiest way to get children to eat veggies is to serve them uncooked. Cooked greens tend to become mushy, bland and disgusting whereas uncooked produce is quite nice. Well, YMMV if you choose to serve something like broccoli instead of something people actually might want to eat.


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