50 Ways to Sneak Vegetables and Fruits Into Kid Favorites

By Rachel Tiemeyer
May 24, 2021

Creative, fun, and sneaky ideas and recipes for helping your kids eat more fruits and vegetables each day.

I’m a big believer in offering my kids fruits and vegetables at every meal. Research has definitively shown that if you keep offering and keep offering, children will eventually try the produce you put in front of them. I know from experience! It does work, but it takes months and sometimes years of diligence.

While we wait for the “lightbulb” moment when our kids will try and like fruit and vegetables, though, how can we get that much needed nutrition into them regularly?

One of the ways I ensure my kiddos, who can certainly be picky at times, are getting enough produce is to sneak extra fruits and veggies into just about every meal. It’s been a fun challenge for me over the years to figure out all the ways I can do this.

Here are some ideas and recipes that have worked for me…

Tip #1: Take advantage of baked goods.

What kid doesn’t love a muffin, a sweet bread, or a cookie? Baked goods are a fantastic way to sneak in extra fruits and veggies, plus you can bake, cool, and freeze them to have on hand anytime. Try some of these favorites.

Chocolate Banana Muffins

I have found that these are a great way to use up ripe bananas or cooked sweet potato. You can always toss either of those items in the freezer until you want to make these muffins.

Blueberry Avocado Muffins

The avocado is virtually tasteless and replaces the oil and butter that is usually found in muffins. To hide the hint of green that might throw a picky eater off, simply add the sweet and zesty crumble topping. These are a popular recipe in our cookbook,From Freezer to Table.

Zucchini Flaxseed Muffins

This was the first muffin recipe on Thriving Home! I still make this recipe 10 years later, especially when zucchini is in season. There are lots of tips and tricks in this article, so be sure to hop over and read up.

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

The mini chocolate chips will take care of your taste buds while the other parts of your body will be thanking you for the healthy ingredients. All ages in my family liked them, and I think yours will, too. I use these silicone muffins liners for this recipe every time.

Pumpkin Muffins with Crumble Topping

This is probably one of my favorite pumpkin recipes to date. Since canned pumpkin is always in stock, you don’t have to wait until fall weather hits to make this one. I like that this recipe uses up a whole can of pumpkin, too. They are SO good!

Make Ahead Banana Breakfast Cake

Tip #1: Call something “cake”. Tip #2: Put mini chocolate chips in said “cake”. My kids request this much healthier “cake” regularly. It includes pumpkin, banana, and whole wheat flour, among other nutritious ingredients.

Pumpkin Banana Bread or Muffins

Whether your kid wants a sweet bread or muffin, this real food recipe delivers great taste and some extra pumpkin and banana into their diet. I’ve been making this recipe for years!

Chocolate Sweet Potato Bread

This sweet bread is a reader favorite! Believe it or not, you’ll be sneaking in some sweet potato (or sub pumpkin puree).

chocolate sweet potato banana bread

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

Cookies + chocolate chips = you can hide zucchini in it.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

Tip #2: Sneak finely chopped or pureed veggies and fruits into kid faves.

Mac and Cheese with Sneaky Sweet Potato

Here’s another fun way to add sweet potato to your little one’s diet. The blender is key to getting it pureed into the cheese sauce.

A better mac and cheese with sneaky sweet potato

Whole Wheat Calzones

These are highly requested around our house. Add in finely chopped baby spinach or any other veggie your child likes. The cheese and sauce will do the trick to hide it.

Whole Wheat Calzones

Tomato Bisque with a Grilled Cheese

My kids request this soup regularly, especially if I make grilled cheese for dipping. There are SO many pureed veggies in this bisque! Try passing it off as a dipping sauce to begin with, if your child turns his/her nose up at soup.

Meatballs with Sneaky Veggies

Sweet Potato Quick Biscuits

Sweet Potato Quick Biscuits

Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs

chicken burger on a bun with cheese on a plate

Super Sloppy Joes

Zucchini Pizza Crust

Zucchini Pizza Crust: Seriously, it's good! What a great way to sneak in veggies to your dinner too.

Mini Meatloaf Muffins

meatloaf muffins

Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes

Tip #3: Cheese covers a multitude of sins, I mean veggies.

Each of these recipes incorporates cheese (and sometimes bacon and cream, if I’m being honest) which takes the edge off almost any veggie.

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

Spinach Lasagna Rolls are the perfect meal for large groups. With fresh and natural ingredients, it also makes a great freezer meal!

Creamy Autumn Chowder

Cheesy Chive Burgers

Mix in fresh chopped herbs and shredded cheese to ground beef for a kid fave.

grilled burger on a bun with oven fries on the side

Baked Cheese Tortellini (with sneaky spinach)

baked cheese tortellini in glass dish

Chicken, Veggie, and Brown Rice Casserole

Chicken, Brown Rice, & Veggie Casserole

English Muffin Pizzas

Tip: Finely chop any veggies for these pizzas and cover them with cheese.

Tip #4: Work fruits and veggies into tasty breakfast foods.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

 Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal is an easy and healthy breakfast or snack. It is a great family recipe and ideal for large groups!

Cheddar Chive Egg Bites

egg muffins in a muffin tin

Whole Wheat Chocolate Pumpkin Waffles

Peanut Butter and Banana Baked Oatmeal

Delicious and healthy! Make this baked oatmeal ahead of time for a warm and comforting breakfast the whole family will love. Double and freeze an extra one for later, too. #freezermeal #realfood

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

Chocolate Zucchini Waffles

Chocolate Waffle recipe with zucchini

Whole Grain Zucchini Pancakes

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

Tip #5: Make the food fun!

Fruit Pizza Roll-Ups

Fruit Pizza Roll-Ups recipe: An easy lunch for kids!

Banana Boat

The Banana Boat: The perfect after school snack!

Banana Bites

Ghost Bananas or Orange Pumpkins

Fun, healthier Halloween treats!

Breakfast Cereal Parfait

Breakfast Cereal Parfait

Tip #6: Smoothies for the Win

Many kids enjoy smoothies and they are a great way to sneak in virtually tasteless veggies (and of course lots of fruit). Try one of these delicious flavor combos. Use some fun straws like these to make them even more attractive.

Very Berry Smoothie

berry smoothie in mason jar with straw

Orangesicle Smoothie

Orange smoothie in mason jar with straw

4 Ingredient Tropical Smoothie

pineapple, mango, spinach, cashews on cutting board

Blueberry Muffin Smoothie

blueberry smoothie in mason jar with straw

Green Machine Smoothie

green smoothie with mango and chia in mason jar with straw

Chocolate Covered Cherry Smoothie

cherry smoothie in mason jar with straw

Strawberry Pina Colada Smoothie

strawberry smoothie in mason jar with straw

Looking for more healthy, kid-friendly meals? Try these 30+ Kid-Friendly Freezer Meals

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3 replies
  1. MJ says:

    Yum! I will have to try a few of these out. I am always looking at ways to increase healthy food. We have fought without daughter forever on eating healthy foods and recipes and tips like this have helped a ton! A few weeks ago I purchased a plate called 8 The Plate and that has worked better than anything yet. It made it a ton easier. With the combo of good healthy recipes and being able to game it up a bit with the new plate we now have a kid who is eating healthy. You can find out about the plate on there website https://www.8theplate.com/ I picked up mine on Amazon. Good luck parents! The struggle is real.

    Reply
  2. Erica says:

    These look fantastic!
    One other thing I used to do-and should get back to, is dehdrating spinach and tomato and grinding into a powder. Then I would just pour some into just about anything!!

    Reply
    • Rachel says:

      What an interesting idea. I’ve made purees out of all kinds of veggies and fruits to use in favorite dishes, but I’ve never dried dehydrating. Thanks, Erica.

      Reply