A phrase so rarely uttered in the Land of Toddlers.
Your attempts at well-balanced meals end up in their hair, on the ground, or even in your hair if it’s one of those kinds of days. (We’ve all been there, soldier).
As an energetic home cook who serves up the rainbow on a weekly basis, I was thrilled to have landed an infant who was a vegetable lover. She ate anything and everything.
Fast forward to reality.
Everything changed once that sweet little tyke hit the 1-year mark. She could walk. She could talk. And she had OPINIONS. Most of which did NOT jive too well with mine when it came to the dinner table.
I felt like a ninja trying to creep one green thing or another into the mix only to get it rejected into my lap.
I feel you, friend, and I’ve got you covered with three sneaky veggie victory tips to add to your mom ninja arsenal.
While I can’t guarantee your broccoli hater will suddenly morph into its biggest fan overnight, these tried and true tips will help your toddler to have a more balanced diet and will give you some much-needed
peas peace of mind.
Ninja Mom Tip #1:
Disguise Her Favorite Food
Are chicken nuggets the toddler staple in your house? Mac and Cheese the only meal in the dinner rotation? Use this to your advantage!
You are the master of disguise, Ninja Mom. Add vegetables in grated or pureed form to your toddler’s favorite food and chances are your tyke won’t even notice. She will most likely gobble it all up—despite the presence of green stuff (or orange if we’re talking about butternut squash).
For instance, my daughter LOVES eggs. She would eat them for every meal if I let her. I started adding chopped fresh spinach in them, and she still ate all of them like it was nothing.
I was stunned. It was a dinner table miracle.
Now, I toss in spinach, green peppers, or whatever veggies I have on hand—but never more than two kinds and always with a little cheese. I don’t want to push my luck.
Ninja Mom Tip #2:
Be Stealthy with Smoothies
If it’s sweet, chances are your kiddo will be all about it. You don’t have to tell him it has vegetables in it.
Enter the stealthy smoothie.
Smoothies are a great way to keep veggies in the shadows. Here’s what you’ll need to concoct a stealthy smoothie for your toddler:
- Plain whole milk yogurt
- Fresh or frozen fruit (whatever is in season and best)
- A whole banana
- A bit of honey
- A few ice cubes (or frozen fruit works great here too!)
- Whole milk
- Veggies! I like to use spinach, but you can use celery or carrots too. If color is an issue for your picky toddler, try beets or other veggies that won’t turn it a questionable shade of tan.
Toss everything in your Ninja Helper, hit blend, and serve it up with a smug smile as your toddler devours it.
It’s like magic, every time.
Pro Mom Tip: Make extra, add in some protein powder for you, and voila! You have a portable, healthy lunch. Perfect for running around after an into-everything-never-sitting-down toddler.
Ninja Mom Tip #3:
Hide Veggies in Plain Sight
Muffins, cookies, breads—they’re all kid favorites and they’re all amazing hiding spots for vegetables.
Get creative! Try baking carrot bread or adding zucchini to brown sugar oat muffins. Or if you’re more of a by-the-book gal, Pinterest is your friend with oodles of recipes at your fingertips.
I’ll get you started with these deliciously deceptive Carrot-Zucchini Ninja Muffins:
You’ll be the master of veggie invisibility with these muffins. In fact, you could even witness a world record. I made these last week, and I’ve never seen a muffin inhaled so fast. Little Miss beat my husband, and that’s impressive, my friends.
If you would prefer to have a Kitchen Sensei than to go it alone, try one of these master ninja warrior cookbooks:
- Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food
- Double Delicious: Good, Simple Food for Busy, Complicated Lives
- The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals
Perfecting Your Ninja Skills:
Keep at It!
Most experts agree that it takes a toddler up to 20 exposures of a food to form an opinion.
TWENTY VEGGIE EXPOSURES.
That’s a lot of broccoli on the floor.
I get it. At some point, you just need your tot to eat something, and you fall back on those things you know will make the cut.
But as much as you can, try to keep giving your tot a wide variety of foods. You don’t want to be stuck in picky-eater land forever, and you won’t be. I promise!
Remember, toddlers are finicky and flighty and most off all: a work in progress (much like you and me, right?). Just because they hate strawberries this week does not mean they will next week, and certainly not forever.
I know dinner can be a battle, but with these three sneaky tips, it doesn’t have to be.
Suit up, Ninja Mom. It’s time for a veggie victory!
Which sneaky veggie victory ninja tip do you plan on using with your toddler? Share with your fellow band of ninja warriors below.
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