The Sweet Side of Veggies: Encouraging Kids to Love Their Greens

The Sweet Side of Veggies: Encouraging Kids to Love Their Greens

Apr 19, 2024Jonathan Englert

As every parent knows, getting children to eat their vegetables can be a challenge, and the reasons for this are fairly straightforward – vegetables have relatively sophisticated flavours and children don’t always appreciate the subtleties of them. 

For many parents, the trick is to introduce the vegetables by stealth. One of the all-time favourite ways to do this is by pureeing them into soups or chopping them up fine and adding them to mince dishes – how many of us had our first encounter with zucchinis via spaghetti bolognese night?

Those techniques work, but here’s another one that is spectacularly effective, albeit less well-known: by making sweets out of them! The veggies from your Good & Fugly box might be fugly out of the box, but once you get them into some of these treats it will hardly matter, and from there, a life-long love of greens and wholesome goodness can be born:

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes are a classic example of a sweet treat that can be made healthier with the addition of vegetables. By grating carrots finely, they blend into the batter without altering the texture kids love. The natural sweetness of carrots reduces the need for added sugars, and the cupcakes can be made more nutritious by using whole wheat flour or almond meal. Topped with a light cream cheese frosting, these cupcakes can be decorated with orange zest or a sprinkle of cinnamon to make them irresistible to children.

Zucchini Brownies

Zucchini Brownies offer a sneaky way to incorporate a green vegetable into a chocolatey dessert. The moisture from grated zucchini ensures the brownies are rich and fudgy, and it also adds fibre and vitamins. To make them even healthier, consider using dark chocolate and reducing the sugar content. The zucchini is undetectable, especially when the brownies are warm and gooey, making them a perfect treat for veggie sceptics.

Beetroot Chocolate Cake

Beetroot Chocolate Cake is a visually stunning and tasty way to use beets. The natural sugars in beets enhance the sweetness of the cake, allowing for less added sugar. Beets also add moisture, creating a tender crumb, and their rich colour gives the cake an eye-catching hue. For an extra health boost, use beet puree and wholegrain flour. 

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Cookies are a popular American treat that is travelling the world as a flavourful option for incorporating vegetables into a sweet snack. Pumpkin puree gives the cookies a soft, chewy texture and pairs well with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. These cookies can be made with oats for added texture and fibre. They’re perfect for teaching kids about seasonal produce and can be cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters.

Sweet Potato Pie Bites

Finally, Sweet Potato Pie Bites are miniature versions of the classic “fruit” pie dessert, with a filling made from naturally sweet sweet potatoes rather than more traditional ingredients like apples or pear. These bites are a great source of vitamins A and C, and their small size makes them a fun, bite-sized snack for kids. The natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes means you can cut back on added sugars. Topped with a dollop of whipped cream or a sprinkle of cinnamon, these pie bites can be a festive and nutritious treat.

Just Don’t Stop With Veggie Treats…

While these sweets can be a fun and innovative way to introduce children to vegetables, it’s crucial to also encourage them to appreciate the taste and nutritional benefits of vegetables in their natural form, otherwise, they’re only ever going to enjoy them in the relatively unhealthy sweet form.

After all, vegetables in sweets often lose some of their nutritional value due to cooking processes and added sugars. They’re not an actual alternative to eating vegetables. So, with that in mind, here’s how to help kids graduate from veggies in cakes to veggies as vegetables:

Start a Veggie Garden: Let kids grow their own vegetables – especially if, at first, they know that they’ll be turned into a treat at the end of the growing process. The excitement of watching them sprout can pique their interest in tasting what they’ve grown.

Involve Them in Cooking: Children are more likely to try something they’ve helped prepare. Make cooking vegetables fun without needing to be sweet by letting them choose the seasonings or help with stirring.

Colourful Veggie Platters: Arrange vegetables in fun patterns or use cookie cutters to create shapes so that they look like sweets., A visually appealing plate can entice kids to give veggies a try.

Educate on Benefits: Finally, treat your kids like the intelligent, growing people they are. Teach children about the benefits of vegetables, including the vitamins and minerals that they get from them, and watch as the kids start to appreciate doing things to improve their eyesight and strengthen their bones.

By combining the allure of sweets with the wholesome goodness of vegetables, parents can create a balanced approach to nutrition that children can enjoy. Remember, the goal is to foster a lifelong love of vegetables, both in and out of the dessert menu.

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