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Sneaking in Fruits and Veggies in Recipes

We all know that diets rich in fruits and vegetables provide essential nutrients that strengthen our bodies and help fight off disease. As parents, we have also been faced with the frustrations of trying to get our children or even our picky spouse to eat their veggies. So how do we get finicky eaters to eat the daily recommended six servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables?

Simple, sneak it in.

The easiest way to get your family to consume a healthy amount of nutrient rich foods is to simply “hide” the nutritious foods in the meals they already love to eat. What’s the easiest way to sneak in the nutrition? Purees.

Produce is easily and quickly pureed in a blender or food processor and then added to your favorite recipes or frozen for another meal. Several cookbooks and websites offer how-to advice for preparing and pureeing fruits and veggies but one of the most comprehensive is Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook, “Deceptively Delicious.”

What can I puree?

Fresh, canned, and even frozen fruits and vegetables can be pureed and then added to recipes. The easiest vegetables to hide in a recipe include butternut squash, yellow squash, cauliflower, and zucchini. Apples, bananas, and pineapple make good fruit choices because they tend to be more pleasing to the tastes of picky eaters. Remember when choosing your produce that the brighter the food’s color, the higher the content of its vitamins and minerals. Store your purees in portions of one half cup each in either the refrigerator or freezer and use like any other recipe ingredient.

What are the easiest foods to pump up?

* Spaghetti sauce or sloppy joe sauce.

Any jar of store bought sauce is a great place to sneak in extra nutrition. Add one half cup of pureed squash, carrots, or cauliflower for extra veggies. If your family enjoys a chunky sauce, add even more veggies with chopped green and red peppers and roma tomatoes.

* Tacos.

When browning your meat add one half cup of pureed carrots, tomato sauce, one half cup of canned corn, and one half cup of black beans. Load the meat mixture into whole grain shells and generously top with tomatoes, lettuce, red bell peppers, avocado, and shredded lettuce.

* Pancakes.

Using a box mix, add one cup pureed banana into the mix along with one half cup quick oats for added nutrition, taste, and texture.

* Burgers (or meatloaf).

Whether you choose lean ground beef or turkey, you can sneak in a veggie by adding one half cup of cauliflower puree to your meat mixture.

* Brownies.

Never again use oil when baking a batch of packaged brownies. Substitute applesauce or yogurt in equal measurement for the oil. Not only do you get better nutrition but the brownies will be the moistest!

* Smoothies.

Berries, bananas, pineapple, kiwi, and more all blend smoothly with fruit juice, ice, and yogurt. Want to add protein to your breakfast? Fix a smoothie with one banana, one quarter cup creamy peanut butter, one half cup yogurt, one cup skim milk, and one quarter cup crushed ice. Blend until smooth.

Changing our eating habits, especially for picky eaters is a difficult task and even though you are sneaking in added nutrition, don’t stop putting fruits and vegetables on their plates.

And when your family is feeling healthy and strong you may consider telling them about the added nutrients in their favorite dishes, but then again, maybe some secrets are best left with the chef.