More Veggies, Please!


More Veggies, Please! Unfortunately, my kids don’t like vegetables. They could eat their weight in fruit, so I’m not totally failing at their nutrition, but if I present them with a beautiful serving of broccoli or some lovely asparagus, they scowl. Brussel sprouts make them barf. Salads stink. Green peppers are gross. Occasionally, they’ll nibble on a carrot or a green bean, but even that is a struggle.

So I’ve gotten creative. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, I’ve made it my mission to figure out ways to incorporate more veggies into the foods that they already love. Instead of pleading with them to eat their veggies or forcing them to eat something they don’t like, I’m willing to try a different approach. I’ve started adding a few leaves of spinach here, some shredded zucchini and carrots there. Sometimes, if I’m sneaky enough, they don’t even realize what they’re eating. Other times, I make it a fun game to see if they can guess what veggies are hidden in their favorite foods. Or I have them help me in the kitchen to prepare and incorporate the veggies into their meals.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to incorporate more vegetables into the foods I prepare for my kids:

Veggie Muffins

This is one of the best ways I’ve found to incorporate more veggies. My kids LOVE muffins, and they’re slightly sweet, so usually if the veggies are blended or chopped small enough, you cannot even taste them. Carrots, zucchini, and spinach work best. Yummy Toddler Food has some really good muffin recipes. I’ve tried them all.


Smoothies are a great breakfast or snack option that my kids love. You can add spinach or kale to any fruit smoothie recipe for a little added nutrition. Again, make sure to blend the veggies well and you can’t even taste them. Momables has a list of 10 Healthy Smoothie ideas that I love.


One of my favorite ways to sneak in veggies this time of year is to add them to chili. The key is to dice the veggies very small, so that they become super tender and blend seamlessly with the meat and beans. Zucchini, carrots, corn, bell peppers, and onions are great options. The Real Food Dieticians have a fantastic Veggie Chili Recipe.


Most meals that I make for my kids can easily be altered to add a few veggies. Meatloaf and lasagna are great options. Carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, corn, and mushrooms are all easy to incorporate into everyday recipes. I love this Hidden Veggie Turkey Meatloaf recipe from Jenn Eats Good and this Veggie Packed Beef Lasagna from Chef Julie.

What are some ways you’ve found to encourage your kids to eat more vegetables?

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Haley McManigal
Hi there! I’m Haley, a middle-aged-momma to Lukas and Laney, and wife to Dan. I’ve lived in East Tennessee my whole life, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. After moving all over Knox County and surrounding areas, my family has settled in Hardin Valley where we intend to stay at least until the kids graduate from high school. My son was born in 2017, changing my life forever, and my daughter completed our family in 2020. I work as an architect and project manager at a global design firm. I think it’s pretty cool that I get to meet with people from all over the world from my home office on a daily basis. I am happiest when I’m able to strike just the right balance between home and work life. But my family is my greatest treasure and my most fulfilling role in life so far is Mommy. My favorite things are reading, writing, cooking, exploring, and making things. I don’t have much free time these days but when I’m able to squeeze in a few of these activities it really pays off. I love being a part of Knoxville Moms and I cherish the opportunity to share this journey of motherhood here with you!


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