We all know veggies contain nutrients our bodies need, but it can be hard to convince children why they should gobble up their greens. Vegetables aren’t always something kids look forward to eating.
My kids tell me they are gross, smell funny, or “ewww,” which is why I’ve concocted different ways to prepare veggies.
In my attempts to try and find ways to get them to eat vegetables, I discovered hiding veggies, particularly zucchini, in food has been the easiest way sneak veggies into their diet!
Here are a few tried-and-true recipes my family loves!
Banana Zucchini Muffins
My kids eat these for breakfast or snack!
1 cup zucchini, grated (about 1 zucchini)
1 1/4 cup flour (any kind of flour works, I’ve used almond or coconut)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 ripe medium bananas smooshed up
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp honey or agave or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup applesauce
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or just plain yogurt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
3. Put grated zucchini in a paper towel and squeeze out excess moisture. This is the trick to making these muffins!
4. Make sure your bananas are good and mashed or even blend them up with all the wet ingredients and spices.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and then mix in your chocolate chips.
6. Put into muffin tins (big or small) and bake for 20-25 mins.
Meatballs & Zucchini Noodles
You might have already tried zucchini noodles, and your kids may not buy it. I mix them with regular spaghetti noodles, which seems to help. Smothering the noodles in sauce or cheese sometimes helps.
My little trick is adding zucchini in the meatballs. We use ground turkey meat, but you can use any kind of ground meat that your family likes.
2 lbs turkey meat
1 large zucchini, grated
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano or basil
Any other spices that you like to add, make this your own!
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1. Grate the zucchini and squeeze out most of the excess moisture.
2. Add salt and pepper and spices to your meat and mix everything together.
3. Add in zucchini, egg, and breadcrumbs mix it all up and then roll into balls and bake in the oven at 350.
Note: You can also throw these in the air fryer or make in a pan on the stove. Sprinkle some salt on at the end if you think it needs more.
This is a super versatile recipe that you can totally make your own! These also go great with any kind of sauce or noodles or just to eat by themselves.
Don’t hate on this yet. It doesn’t sound the best, but it is a super easy way to get some veggies snuck in. You can even use a boxed brownie mix, because I know we don’t always have time to make brownies from scratch.
Note: If you are using a box mix, which I have done before, too, just grate the zucchini, squeeze out extra moisture and add it into the mix!
The brownie recipe I’m sharing is one I get asked to bring to parties and potlucks all the time. It is a little more time consuming, but it equals fudgy brownies. This is a recipe that I adapted from a Dorie Greenspan brownie recipe. Her original recipe can be found in her cookbook, Dorie’s Cookies.
5 tbsp butter, cut into chunks
6 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I have even used dark chocolate bars, and it makes it extra decedent)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cold large eggs
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup flour (use any kind of flour, I have made this with almond or coconut flour, for my gluten free friends, and they are still as good)
1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
1 cup zucchini, grated and drained (about 1 zucchini)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an eight-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
2. Create a double broiler. Set a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the water isn’t touching the bottom of the bowl), put butter in the bowl and scatter the chocolate over. Heat until the butter is melted and the chocolate is almost melted. You don’t want to heat the ingredients too much that they separate. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and stir until you have a shiny mixture. (This is the kind of time consuming part.)
3. Using a spatula, stir in the sugar. Your mixture will become grainy, but keep stirring.
4. When the sugar is incorporated and the mixture has cooled down some, add the cold eggs one at a time and mix, mix, mix. The gloss should return to your chocolate after you have beaten in the eggs. Here is your arm workout for the day.
5. Stir in the salt, followed by the vanilla.
6. Add the flour all at once and gently stir or fold in. When it is almost all the way incorporated, stir in the nuts if you are using them.
7. Add in the zucchini and stir. I sometimes even add chocolate chips just for a little extra chocolate.
8. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. I like to add a little salt sprinkled on the top for a little something extra. But you don’t have to.
9. Bake the brownies for 27 to 29 minutes , rotating the pan at about 15 minutes. Use a tester in the center to see if they are done. It will come out almost clean. Once done let them cool before cutting them.
Note: They will keep for up to a week wrapped up or in a container, but I doubt they will last that long.
Zucchini Pizza Crust
This is a recipe I found in a keto cookbook. It didn’t turn out right the first few times I made it, so I played with the recipe until it was a texture we liked better. This is what we ended up with. If it still isn’t great for you, feel free to change it!
2 cups zucchini, grated coarsely and drained of some liquid
3 large eggs
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (we have used dairy-free cheese because my husband is lactose intolerant. You can find lactose-free cheese at Sprouts or Whole Foods, and it still tastes good.)
1/4 cup almond flour, or any kind of flour
1/2 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a non-stick 12- or 14-inch pizza pan, round or square.
2. Spread out the grated zucchini in a thin layer and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until it is fairly soft and semi-dry.
3. Meanwhile combine eggs, flour, mozzarella, and salt in a bowl.
4. When the zucchini is done, pat it dry and add to the bowl with your mixture. Mix together.
5. Spread the zucchini pizza dough into a circle on the pan about 11 to 12 inches (it doesn’t have to be exact). Try having fun and create small pizzas with help from the kids!
6. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the cheese is a bit bubbly and browning.
7. Remove the crust from the oven and turn up the heat to 400. While you wait for it to heat, add sauce and any toppings.
8. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then enjoy!
I hope you have some fun with these recipes and find something that both you and your family will enjoy!