As someone who has had to prepare food for picky eaters, it can be tricky to get them (especially little ones) interested in eating fresh fruits and vegetables. When I was little, my mom would prepare “ants on a log”, which was just celery and peanut butter, topped with raisins to look like the “ants”. Now, I’m on a quest to see which fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables available at Countryside Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow can be turned into deliciously disguised snacks for even the pickiest of eaters.
1. Blueberry Kale Smoothie
Smoothies are one of the best ways to disguise greens like spinach and kale. With this blueberry kale smoothie, the only thing you’ll be able to taste is the sweetness of the berries, with all the important nutrients included in the superfood that is kale.
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 cup chopped kale, packed
- 1 frozen banana, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- Combine ingredients in blender and blend well (preferably on the “smoothie” setting if the option is available).
2. Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Cooked Carrots
As someone who isn’t that big of a cooked carrot fan, I’d have to say that the only way I’m able to eat them is if they’re sweet instead of the traditional, savory route. This brown sugar and cinnamon baked carrots recipe absolutely TRANSFORMS how you’ve previously enjoyed carrots, and I’d say they’re just as (if not more) delicious as brown sugar and cinnamon sweet potatoes.
- 10-12 Carrots, peeled and then cut in half OR 2 dozen baby carrots.
- salt & pepper
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 tbsp butter, diced
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Lay down a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
- Put the carrots down and then sprinkle them with salt, pepper, cinnamon and brown sugar. Mix the carrots up.
- Melt the butter and pour it over the carrots.
- Roast for 25-30 minutes or until the carrots are cooked through. About half way through, mix the carrots up to ensure even baking. NOTE: If using baby carrots, you will need to adjust your time to 45-60 minutes.
- Pour any leftover brown sugar and butter on top of the carrots in your serving platter.
- Sprinkle your brown sugar baked carrots with parsley for garnish.
3. Zucchini Pasta
I had no idea that veggie pasta was even a thing until a few years ago, but it’s definitely life changing when you’re trying to lower your carb intake, or just trying to get more creative in the kitchen. With zucchini noodles, the possibilities are endless! You can pair them with any kind of sauce, from alfredo to meat sauce, and choose whatever other veggies or types of protein you’d like to include. Here’s a quick recipe on how to prepare the zucchini noodles themselves (and the rest is up to your imagination!):
For this recipe, you can use a variety of tools to create the “zoodles” themselves. Most recipes recommend a spiralizer, but box cheese graters and potato peelers work just as well.
Here’s some different ways on how to cook zoodles:
- Sauteing zoodles in a bit of oil (in small batches) is by far my favorite method. 3 minutes per batch, quick and easy.
- Boiling zoodles in a pot of boiling water. Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add zucchini and cook for about 1 minutes. Drain when they have reached al dente.
- Cook zoodles in sauce. If you are making spaghetti (or whatever other warm sauce), toss your zoodles straight into the warming sauce and simmer for a couple minutes until al dente. Done!
- Eat zoodles raw.
- Microwave your zoodles. When you microwave vegetables, you’re really just steaming them. Microwave in 30 second increments until al dente.
4. Creamy Peach and Honey Popsicles
Looking for a low-calorie snack to fulfill your sweet tooth? Fresh fruit popsicles are the cure! The best part about making fresh fruit popsicles is they’re easy to prep, and you can include any of your favorite fruits. Since my favorite fruit is peaches, I decided I’d introduce these peach popsicles:
- 1 pound ripe peaches (about 3 medium), peeled and sliced into ½-inch wide wedges
- 6 tablespoons honey, divided
- Dash sea salt
- 2 cups full fat/whole milk plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1 small lemon, juiced)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer sliced peaches to the baking sheet and gently toss with 2 tablespoons honey and a dash of salt. Arrange the peaches in a single layer. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring halfway, or until the peaches are soft and juicy (watch the edges in particular).
- While the fruit is roasting, blend together the yogurt, ¼ cup honey, lemon juice and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Feel free to add more honey or vanilla extract to suit your taste buds. Place the mixture in the refrigerator so it stays cool.
- Let the peaches cool, then scrape the peaches and all of their juices into the bowl of yogurt. Use a big spoon to gently fold the mixture together.
- Use the spoon to transfer the yogurt blend into the popsicle mould. You might have to push the peaches down into the molds, but they shouldn’t put up too much of a fight. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze for at least four hours.
- When you’re ready to pop out the popsicles, run warm water around the outsides of the moulds for about ten seconds and gently remove the popsicles. Enjoy immediately.
5. Parmesan Garlic Kale Chips
When I’m looking for something salty, the first thing I usually grab is a bag of potato chips. This can solve my salty cravings, but it can also lead me down an unhealthy route of choosing foods so high in fat and calories. Kale is my favorite “superfood”, and it’s versatility allows for it to be included in many different kinds of dishes. When baked, they become crispy and crunchy, almost similar to the crunch of a chip! Here is one of my favorite and simple ways to prepare kale chips:
- 2 bunches fresh kale
- 5-6 cloves garlic , minced
- sea salt , to taste
- 3 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Remove large stems from kale. Chop into chunks and wash well. Dry well (use a salad spinner if you have one!)
- Place kale in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil, sea salt, and garlic.
- Lay flat on a large baking sheet. For best results, don’t overcrowd the baking sheet. (Make these in two batches if necessary).
- Bake at 300 degrees F for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until crisp. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
- Serve warm or store in an airtight container.
I hope you’ve found these ideas to be helpful when trying to incorporate fresh, healthy foods into your picky eaters meals – I know I have!