How to get your toddler to eat more veg, with hidden veg recipes we love!

Our top tips on encouraging toddlers to eat more veg

From a recent conversation with friends, it seems so many of us are struggling to get our toddlers to eat veg and personally I have found myself turning to hidden veg recipes. Many may feel, like me, in awe of Joe Wick’s children who regularly eat a wider variety of veg than most grown adults…at least according to his social media… rest assured I think he is in the minority on this one.

I fondly remember the initial weeks of weaning when each day I introduced a new veg and to my joy each one was gobbled up with no complaint… Alas it did not last. We all too often talk about ‘sleep regression’ but the chat around ‘food regression’ or ‘food refusal’ is less apparent and I for sure have seen many of my daughters favourite foods (mainly the healthier ones) become ‘Yukky’ as she has grown older and her appetite for trying new things, of the vegetable variety, has become a lot less adventurous.

Mum & Toddler eating watermelon in the sun

How much veg should we be eating?

According to the government’s Eat-well food guidelines an intake of 5-6 fruit & veg is recommended. I am firmly in the camp of more veg than fruit due to the sugar content. We may well see the recommendations changing following recent claims from scientist Tim Spector when it comes to gut health. (link here for those interested)

Either way, the evidence is clear that plants are the best source of the vital nutrients we need for growth & development, and we should be feeding our babies & toddlers more veg, with as wide a variety as possible. Easier said that done, I know.

Mixed colourful vegetables - carrots, peppers, green beans and garlic

Hidden veg yayy – but don’t give up!

In a bid to get my toddler to eat more veg and with a focus on variety, I, like many others, have turned to trickery with ‘hidden’ veggies of the colourful variety and I have no shame in doing so. That said it is still so important that we encourage children to eat veg out of choice and not see it as the demon on the plate.

Whilst upping veg intake with my hidden veg recipes I always continue to offer veg at mealtimes and snacks, as well as role modelling. Another great tip is getting your toddler to help select, prepare and cook the veg so there are no surprises on the plate.

The tastier the better

We should remember, vegetables are complex in both flavour & texture and there may be some you still don’t like yourself for one reason or another, so be patient. Here are a few things to consider:

  • It will often take several tastes for a child to develop an acceptance with repeat exposure.
  • How the veg is prepared, cooked and what it is accompanied with can make all the difference so make sure to mix things up.
  • It may sound obvious but make sure they taste good.. no one really likes a plate of steamed veg so don’t expect your kids to either.
  • Adding things like herbs, spices, oils and but butters are some suggestions to amplify taste as well as increasing nutritional content.

Check out this blog by Mummy Nutrition for more specific ideas by age.

Toddler eating barbequed corn on the cob

Parenting hacks – hidden veg recipes we love

Encouraging veg eating may seem like yet another challenge of parenting but it doesn’t have to be and with the right mindset can be a fun learning activity…. For those looking to up veg in hidden and subtle ways I will leave you with my favourite parenting hack hidden veg recipes for encouraging your toddlers to eat more veg in everyday meals – Enjoy!

Carrot cake porridge

Chuck in some ground or chopped nuts and a dollop of full fat Greek yog (this is my go-to) for extra protein and fat

Butternut macaroni 

Also works well with a couple of roasted red peppers in the mix.

Hidden veg pasta sauce 

This makes a great base for so many recipes that can be frozen and added to such as minced meats, bean stews or risottos. Dont' be scared to chuck in any other veg you have in the fridge, as long as you have a good amount of passata it will turn out well

Rainbow Hummus 

Of course this has the added bonus if you can serve it with veg sticks but it also goes great with oatcakes or can be eaten by itself with a spoon if preferred.

Chicken or bean burgers 

This is a great recipe to experiment with kids on texture by varying the amount you blitz it in the food processor. You might try the first time so that the veg is fully blended then gradually increase the size once you have ensured they like the finished product. Sub out the chicken for chickpeas or your choice of beans. .............................................................................................................................

I hope some of these tips will help make your life a little bit easier. If you have any more tips on how to get your toddler to eat more veg please do drop it in the comments, we love to hear your parenting hacks.

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Claire x


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