Hidden vegetable recipes for kids

Published September 7, 2021

Finding ways to increase vegetables in your family’s diet can be challenging. These recipes are an easy and tasty way to boost your family’s vegetable intake while satisfying your fussiest eater.

Easy veggie-packed meatballs

These meatballs are fantastic to have with spaghetti but also a great lunch or dinner option with salad or extra veggies. You can also flatten them out and they become delicious burgers. The best thing is they taste great, and are packed with more than meets the eye- 2 or more hidden veggies! You can also adapt this recipe to suit any taste by substituting beef mince for chicken, turkey, pork, lamb or even a meat substitute mince. They’re also great to freeze and perfect for entertaining. What more could you ask for?

Ingredients:

  • 1kg extra lean ground beef mince
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 large carrot, finely grated (think Parmesan cheese small if possible)
  • 1 zucchini, finely grated
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Optional additions:

  • Dijon mustard
  • Mint, finely cut
  • Garlic clove, crushed
  • Chilli flakes or Cajun spices
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 capsicum, finely grated
  • Oregano (to taste)
  • Parsley (to taste)
  • 3 sprigs of shallot

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and prepare baking trays for meatballs NB: You can also pan fry these burgers if you’re running short of time.
  2. Wash zucchini and carrot and finely grate, then finely chop an onion. Remember the smaller you can get the veggies for this one the better you’ll be at disguising them!
  3. Prepare a bowl and add breadcrumbs; prepare a second bowl with one egg lightly beaten as a dipping area.
  4. Next, combine mince, carrot, zucchini, onion and one egg in a large mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper along with any other optional ingredients, remembering to chop everything you’re adding finely.
  5. Using your fingers combine all ingredients together and roll the meatballs into even sizes – for bite-sized meatballs aim for 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture; if you’re after something a bit bigger, or want to flatten them out to burger patties, use 3-4 tablespoons per ball. Place meatballs on pre-prepared baking trays.
  6. Once you have roughly even sizes of meatballs start the coating process – dip a meatball into the egg mixture then into the breadcrumbs, repeat process on all meatballs – NB: you don’t have to coat your meatballs with breadcrumbs – this step just adds a crunchy outside. If you’re after a smoother texture, add the breadcrumbs and both eggs to the mixture in step 5.
  7. Once all meatballs balls have been prepared, place back on baking trays and bake in the oven for 30 minutes before checking.

These meatballs can be served immediately or frozen for easy dinners during the week.

You can also use this mixture to create a yummy veggie-packed meatloaf; if you’re interested in this we suggest combining all ingredients into a loaf baking container (or for a less perfect shape, roll it into a cylinder shape on a baking tray). Bake for 45 mins before removing from the oven and adding a glaze (pre-purchased or you could try the one below)

OPTIONAL MEATLOAF GLAZE:

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. mustard

Method:

  1. Mix all ingredients together and brush onto meatloaf.
  2. Place meatloaf back into the oven for a further 15 minutes before serving.

Makes: 20 Meatballs (approx.) or 10 burgers

Healthy hidden vegetable pasta sauce

This rich pasta sauce, jam-packed with healthy vegetables, will soon become a family favourite. Make with vegetable stock to for a vegan or vegetarian option.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 large fresh tomatoes (tinned tomatoes are great too – aim for at 800g)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 250ml stock (vegetable/chicken/Beef)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons oil (spray oil is fine too)
  • 1 bunch parsley (optional)
  • 1 tub tomato paste

METHOD:

  1. Heat oil in wok or large pan.
  2. Roughly chop celery, onion, carrots and zucchini and add to pan to brown. The size of your vegetables will depend on time available and how fussy your kids areabout seeing them in their food, as a rule, 5-10mins should be enough time to cook though.
  3. Next crush the garlic clove and add to heat stirring occasionally to prevent any ingredients from sticking to the bottom.
  4. Coarsely chop tomatoes (if fresh) and add to pan along with 1 cup of stock and tomato paste. Stir mixture together ensuring all ingredients are combined. Reduce heat to medium and cover, allowing sauce to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat once vegetables have become soft. To really disguise use a hand blender to smooth the sauce before serving.

Optional extras:

  1. To make this sauce more of a bolognese we suggest removing the mixture from the heat once vegetables are soft, and blending in a food processor or blender. While the sauce is blending, add mincemeat/meatballs to the pan to brown, before re-adding the blended sauce and simmer for a further 15-20 mins (or until the meat has been cooked through).
  2. If you prefer a creamier bolognese sauce, add a tablespoon or two of low fat mayonnaise.
  3. If there are vegetables your kids enjoy (like peas or corn), use this opportunity to add a cup or two to the mixture as well. The more vegetables the merrier!

Something for the grownups:

If you’d like to add a bit more kick to bolognese try adding capsicum, chillies, Cajun spices or red kidney beans. Most of these additions can be made just before serving so the kids can have a milder version while the adults can heat things up.

Serves: 4-5

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