Some kids gulf down fruit and vegetables like no tomorrow, but for other parents, it's a losing battle. Getting your kids to eat any fruit and vegetables, let alone 5-a-day, if they hate the things is no easy feat, but that's not to say we should give up.
Why do we need fruit & vegetables?
Fruit and vegetables provide children with essential nutrients such as Vitamin C, which helps boost their immune systems and prevent sickness, and vitamin A which promotes eye health. There are many other benefits, including improved digestion.
Despite this, the majority of children in the UK are not eating as many fruits and vegetables as they should be. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey found that just a meagre 8% of children aged 11-18 were getting their recommended five-a-day.
How many fruit & vegetables should children eat?
The NHS recommend all family members eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Similarly to meal portions, fruit and vegetable portions for children are smaller than for fully-grown adults.
A portion is roughly the amount your child can fit in the size of their hand. Aim for three vegetables and two fruit portions per day to give your child the nutrition they need.
How to get kids to eat more vegetables
Fruit is one thing, but vegetables are a different story altogether. If your child bulks at anything green, achieving that mystical 5-a-day may seem impossible.
If meal times are a real struggle, it may be time to try something new: hidden vegetable recipes. Yes, you read that right - all the goodness of greens, without any evidence of them being there!
Hidden vegetable recipe roundup
There are hundreds of recipes on the web that are packed full of vegetables unvisible to the human eye, perfect for fussy eaters.
From savoury snacks and meals to surprisingly healthy, sweet treats, we've sources __ of the best hidden vegetable recipes from across the web. They're so delicious that getting your kids to eat more fruit and vegetables will never be a problem again.
1. A green smoothie that is not green
Smoothies are by no means a quick fix for meeting your 5-a-day. No matter how much you drink, they only count as one portion of fruit and veg a day, and it's not recommended to exceed more than 150ml a day.
That being said, they can be extremely useful if your child is really anti-veg. Natural sweetness and colour from fruit is wonderful at masking the bitterness of greens.
Broccoli is rich in folate, which is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells in the body.
2. Easy Sausage & butterbean casserole
Where better to get recipe ideas for fussy eaters than at My Fussy Eater? Her Easy Sausage & Butterbean Casserole not only looks temptingly divine, but is packed full of nutrition.
High-protein sausages, beans and secret carrot cubes are stirred into a rich, tomato sauce and ready to serve in under 30 minutes!
Tomatoes are full of the antioxidant lycopene, which reduces the risk of heart disease.
3. French-fry makeover- parsnip fries
If I hadn't told you these were no ordinary fries, would you have guessed? It's hard to believe these gorgeous golden chips are actually parsnips - Sweet As Honey sure did a good job of camouflaging those vegetables.
The two qualities that make these fries real winners are the fluffy, carby texture of parsnips, and also their subtle sweetness. It makes for an addictive combo your kids will love.
If there was ever a way of getting your kids to eat more vegetables, this is it!
4. Homemade fruit & vegetable snacks
You'd be forgiven for thinking these were jelly cubes. Full of hidden veggies and nutritious berries, they're anything but a processed treat.
The Stay At Home Chef's cute little cubes are perfect for fussy eaters. Your kids will no doubt love the colour, and the natural sugar of assorted berries completely masks the taste of spinach - yes, there's spinach in there!
Spinach is one of those greens that most children seem to abhor. Manage to sneak it into their diet however, and they'll benefit from a whole load of benefits. Its high iron content is vital for the correct function of red blood cells which transport oxygen around the entire body.
5. Red pepper & cheese savoury muffins for kids
Now this is some truly posh kiddy nosh! A Mummy Too has cleverly hidden red peppers in her cheesy savoury muffins. Red peppers become sweet when cooked, so this is sure to go down a treat with the kids.
Red peppers contain more than 200 percent of the recommended daily Vitamin C intake, which is even more reason to try this simple recipe.
6. Creamy garlic rice with hidden vegetables
Cauliflower is a great ingredient for sneaking into food. When cooked and blended, the texture is extremely rich and creamy.
Pinch Of Yum took advantage of this, by using pureed cauliflower to form the base of her creamy garlic rice. The is the ultimate hidden vegetable dish - your kids will never guess there's cauliflower inside.
Cauliflower is both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich - a wonderful addition to your child's diet.
7. A truly chocolatey hidden vegetable recipe
Spinach and chocolate aren't usually two things you'd put together, but that's where Southern Made Simple comes in.
Her hidden vegetable recipe calls for two whole cups of these leafy greens - that's a whole lotta iron. There's also a banana thrown in for good measure.
They might not look packed full of goodness, but that's the beauty of them! Knock some up for healthy snacks to give to your kids this week.
8. Veg-packed lasagne for fussy eaters
Lasagne is a family favourite in most households, but all that pasta, red meat and cheese doesn't make for the healthiest meal in the world.
If you're looking to get your kids to eat more veg, this Veg-Packed Lasagne from Mrs Rachel Brady is just the thing.
With celery, courgettes, carrots and red peppers all sneaked in there, it's a deliciously nutritious take on this classicly indulgent family feast.
Courgettes contain Vitamin K which will help your children's bones to grow healthy. As it's best consumed with fat for proper absorption into the body, a cheesy lasagne ticks all the boxes.
9. Clever carrot stars
Shop-bought snacks are notoriously unhealthy. Although there are a few exceptions, it's unlikely you'll find anything as nutritious as Healthy Little Foodies' Carrot Stars on supermarket shelves.
These savoury snacks are perfect for on the go and full of nutrition. Oat flour is a complex carbohydrate which releases energy slowly, and eggs and cheese add protein. The real hero of this recipe though has to be the carrot, which is cleverly masked by orange cheddar.
10. Fruit & vegetable ice lollies
What kid doesn't love an ice lolly? Although tasty, they're usually packed full of artificial colours, flavourings and refined sugar.
Captain Bob Cat's fruit and vegetable ice lollies are a little different. They're full of blended fruit and vegetables, which are added to high-protein Greek yoghurt and honey to make truly tasty treats.
11. Homemade un-baked beans with hidden vegetables
Baked beans on toast - it's a classic. Although it's not the worst thing you can serve up for dinner, it's certainly not the best.
Don't mistake beans for a vegetable - they are from the pulse family. Sneaky Veg's baked beans are not just any baked beans, though. She uses an array of surprising vegetables including butternut squash and yellow pepper to make the rich tomato sauce - these are super baked beans!
Butternut squash is high in dietary fibre, which promotes digestion health.
12. Homemade vegetarian sausages
Now this is every child's vegetable dream! Hidden vegetables in the form of sausages make meeting that 5-a-day easier than ever.
Tales From The Kitchen Shed shows you how to make your very own vegetarian sausages at home. Her recipe is surprisingly easy, and full of goodness including mushrooms, lentils, and walnuts.
The slimy texture of mushrooms puts some adults off, so it's no real surprise kids don't like them. Hidden inside these veggie sausages, however, the texture is transformed.
Mushrooms are one of the only food sources of vitamin D, which helps maintain healthy bones and teeth amongst other things.
13. Zucchini-oat coconut cookies
Would any kids recipe roundup be complete without cookies? We certainly don't think so. This children's favourite has been given a healthy makeover by Love To Be In The Kitchen.
The addition of courgettes to this moreish recipe not only gives them a nutritional boost, but also added moisture. Your kids will be so distracted by all that gooey chocolateness, they won't even notice them!
Do you sneak vegetables into any of your kid's dinners? Tell us about them in the comments below.