I’m always trying to add extra nutrients to dishes I make at home. Sometimes it’s to give a nutritional boost to foods I’m serving, and sometimes I’m trying to disguise veggies and herbs so they can’t be detected in a dish.
Maybe you have someone in your family who is a little picky about food. Or maybe you just want to add more nutrients to support your already-healthful diet. Either way, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve found that really work.
20 Ways to Eat More Nutritious Food
More Nutritious Food Using VEGETABLES for Extra Nutrients
1. Puree any vegetable and add it to sauces, soups, etc. Broccoli is super nutritious, but many kids won’t eat it. The key is to cook vegetables well, then puree in a food processor or high speed blender. (Potato mashers can be used in a pinch.) I’ve hidden a number of veggies in spaghetti sauce. The tangy tomato base covers up the flavor and odor of most things.
2. You can also hide veggies in burgers. I’ve mixed them right into the meat with the cracker crumbs. This also works in meatless burgers. You can create a secret pocket in the middle of the burger patty, or just add minced veggies.
3. Nachos are a great way to incorporate vegetables. Start with a layer of tortilla chips, add some thinly sliced vegetables, then some cheese. Repeat several times. Kids will eat almost anything covered in cheese.
4. Soup is another way to get more vegetables in your diet. Make a creamy chicken noodle soup. When you make the cream sauce, add pureed vegetables. (The kids will never know.)
5. Hobo meals are a fun way to do dinner. Kids love new and interesting things. Take a square of parchment paper and fold it into a triangle. Add some meat, like a burger patty, a piece of fish, or a chicken leg. Add some carrots, potatoes, celery, and broccoli. Drizzle with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Beginning at one corner, roll up the edges so it’s tight. Follow around to the other corner, tucking the end under. Cut a slit in the top and bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, or long enough to cook the meat. You can also make these meatless, using any meatless protein of your choice. Serve on a plate and let the kids open their own.
6. Make fun popsicles with vegetables for your kids. Puree sweet potatoes or beets and make a cool icy treat with them. Add honey, maple syrup, or stevia for a bit of sweetness. Make them creamy with homemade yogurt.
7. Zucchini is very easy to add to any chocolate baked item, and doesn’t affect the flavor. Try it in chocolate cake, chocolate bread, or muffins. I’ve even added it to this gluten free bread.
8. Use cauliflower as a rice substitute in a dish. Bake cauliflower and mash well, or use a vegetable ricer (like this).
9. Avocados can be made into ice cream and you’ll never know if you’re not told, except that the ice cream is much creamier. You can also use avocado to make this Healthy Homemade Chocolate Pudding!
10. Make kale breadcrumbs! Bake kale leaves in a slow oven, like 200°F for 10-15 minutes. Check often, they will burn if not watched. When crispy, cool completely and crumble. Use in place of bread crumbs in any dish.
11. Meatloaf, like burgers, can be used as a vehicle for almost any vegetable. Try bell peppers, onion, garlic, shredded carrot, spinach, or anything else you can think of.
12. Use beets in chocolate cake. I had some not too long ago and I couldn’t even tell they were in there. I think they were cooked and then shredded.
More Nutritious Food using FRUIT for Extra Nutrients
13. Any fruit can be hidden in gelatin dessert. And what kid doesn’t like gelatin? Try peaches, pears, berries, or anything else you have.
14. Make your own ice cream. I love fresh peach ice cream when peaches are in season. And most kids love ice cream in any flavor.
15. Make simple and healthy smoothies. You can sneak anything in them from veggies to fruit.
16. If you can find one, Black Sapotes are a chocolaty tasting treat. Native to Central America, this cousin to the persimmon is smooth and velvety on the inside and tastes just like chocolate pudding. Look for it in Asian markets as well as tiendas or places that sell food products from Mexico.
More Nutritious Food Using HERBS for More Nutrients
17. Replace parsley with dried stinging nettles. I’ve used nettles in soups and stews without anyone ever knowing. Nettles are a powerhouse of nutrients.
18. I’ve mixed tinctures into my orange juice to mask the taste. Black cohosh is one that I don’t like the taste of, but it works very well. Trying to get someone to drink aloe vera juice? Mask it with OJ!
19. Pesto is another dish that is perfect for hiding nutritious herbs. Basil is the obvious choice. Cilantro is a great alternative. How about chickweed or stinging nettles? Once nettles are steamed or sautéed, they lose the “sting.” I think of all of these, chickweed is the favorite among kids. They say it tastes like pea pods!
20. Harvest and dry your own dandelion root and use as a coffee substitute. Not only is it free, it contains no caffeine and supports better health. Fool your friends into thinking it’s gourmet coffee!
Have you found a clever way to introduce nutrients into your family’s meals? Tell us what you did!