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19 Hidden Vegetable Recipes for the Picky Eater

If you're like many adults, you probably have at least one picky eater in your household – whether it's a spouse, child, or even yourself. It can be frustrating to try and get these individuals to eat their vegetables, especially when they seem to turn their noses up at every single one you put in front of them. But fear not – there are plenty of sneaky (and delicious) ways to sneak vegetables into your loved ones' meals. Here are five creative ways to do just that:

  1. Grate or puree vegetables and add them to sauces and soups. If your picky eater refuses to eat vegetables on their own, try grating or pureeing them and adding them to sauces or soups. This is a great way to sneak in vegetables like carrots, zucchini, and bell peppers, and your picky eater will be none the wiser.
  2. Make veggie-packed smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to pack in plenty of nutrients, and they're a great way to sneak in vegetables too. Try adding a handful of spinach or kale to your smoothies – the flavor will be masked by the other ingredients, and you'll be getting a healthy dose of greens.
  3. Hide vegetables in baked goods. Yes, you read that right – you can actually hide vegetables in baked goods and your picky eater will never know. Try adding grated zucchini to muffins or carrots to cake – the moisture from the vegetables will help keep the baked goods moist and delicious.
  4. Make veggie-packed dips. Dips are a great way to get your picky eater to eat their vegetables, especially if they're served with crunchy, fun-to-eat veggies like carrots, bell peppers, and celery. Try making a spinach and artichoke dip or a creamy avocado dip – your picky eater will be too busy dipping to realize they're eating vegetables.
  5. Add vegetables to pasta dishes. Pasta dishes are a great way to sneak in extra vegetables, especially if you're using a sauce that has a strong flavor. Try adding grated zucchini or spinach to your pasta sauces or mix in some steamed broccoli or roasted vegetables. Your picky eater will be too busy enjoying the pasta to realize they're eating vegetables too.
While it can be frustrating to try and get your picky eater to eat their vegetables, it's important to remember that it's a process and it may take some time and creativity. By trying these sneaky (but delicious) methods, you'll be well on your way to getting your loved ones to eat their veggies in no time.


There's got to be another way! I reached out to some fellow bloggers for advice on how to hide vegetables in food and asked to share their deceptively delicious hidden vegetable recipes.

(All photos posted with permission of the bloggers courtesy of Operation Round-Up).

Mac & cheese is a great way to sneak in members of the squash family like pumpkin. These Pumpkin Mac & Cheese Cups can be easily made year-round with canned pumpkin puree or pureed frozen butternut squash with a pungent or sharp cheese. When pumpkin and other squash is in season (Fall), you can puree the pumpkin yourself.

pumpkin recipes, breakfast recipes, cookie recipes, healthy cookie recipes

If you prefer your pumpkin flavor in sweets, this pumpkin breakfast cookie is packed full of nutrients from the eggs, rolled oats, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, ground flax and coconut oil. It's a protein-packed breakfast cookie with the sweetness of pureed pumpkin and cranberries.

pasta sauce recipe, hidden vegetable recipe, hidden veggies

Sauces have been the EASIEST way for me to incorporate hidden veggies. Not only does this sauce hide the veggies, but it also hides the meat. It's a homemade version of a jarred pasta sauce that boasts tomatoes, onions, green peppers, sweet potatoes and spinach.

Can you see ANY of these? Nope. Win! I love spaghetti and other pastas, so this meat and hidden vegetable sauce recipe will become a staple in our household, especially served with vegetable pasta. In fact, I can even use veggie crumbles (meat substitute) to make a meatless dish and nobody would know the difference.

healthy brownie recipes, St. Patrick's Day recipes, St. Patty's Day recipes, hidden vegetable recipes, hidden vegetable desserts, hidden veggie

Source: Organized 31

There must be a mix-up. I see chopped spinach, applesauce and an off-the-shelf boxed brownie mix. Nope, your eyes don't deceive you. You can do a lot more with leafy greens and applesauce than you ever imagined.

I love the concept, but I would have a hard time hiding the flecks of green in this healthier brownie from a box mix recipe. With a little more pureeing and a dash of raw cocoa powder you can hide the green. You can also substitute both the spinach and applesauce for pureed avocado and raw cocoa powder.

If you're still not sold on the greenery (or the box), sweet potatoes are a great wholesome ingredient option to add to brownies. I love Lynette's thoughts on the art of adapting food in this homemade brownie recipe made with sweet potatoes. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Small substitutions or minor tweaks do make a difference, even if you are using boxed brownies.

The thing about this recipe that I love is that it doesn't transform the brownie into a sweet potato SKIN in the shape of a brownie. In other words, it's not going to taste like cardboard. It preserves the flavor by only replacing SOME of the sugar with sweet potatoes and by using coconut oil and pure maple syrup.

How much you adapt is up to you, so if you don't have "PURE" maple syrup and you're okay with something else, then by all means, use it. That doesn't just apply to "pure" maple syrup. I hardly ever follow a recipe to the "T". I don't have a Rachel Ray kitchen.

potato alternative recipes, hidden vegetable recipes, hidden veggie recipes, cauliflower recipes, appetizer recipes, vegetable recipes

 Source: Cleverly Simple

Let's talk about this cauliflower tots recipe by Lynette at Cleverly Simple. Anything deep fried, automatically gets brownie points in this household. This recipe is on point for a potato substitute. 

smoothie recipes, hidden vegetable recipes, hidden veggie, smoothie

Smoothies are perfect for to compensate for lack of veggies. For me, Ellen's recipe for a green smoothie without kale is perfect because it's simple. You can even blend the super-yummy chocolate calcium chew (that I could literally eat like gummy vitamins, or even Flintstones vitamins, when I was a kid) in it to make sure you get the calcium and vitamin D you need.

Lynette of Cleverly Simple's healthy green smoothie recipe is just as easy. It's packed with protein and its low calorie.

sloppy joes, skinny joes, healthy sandwich recipes, dinner recipes, lunch recipes, hidden vegetable recipes, hidden veggies

This skinny joes recipe by Healthy Seasonal Recipes drastically reduces the sugar content by substituting caramelized onions and maple syrup for ketchup; plus it uses vegetables so wisely that one pound of beef feeds 12 people. TWELVE!

With sauteed onions, finely chopped mushrooms, diced sweet onions and crushed tomatoes, skinny joes are a great way to sneak in those vegetables.

bison recipes, healthy pasta recipes, hidden vegetable recipes, hidden veggies

By looking at this one, you would never know that it contains carrots, onions or celery. Ah, what wonders a food processor will do. I never thought to add carrots or celery into a meat sauce; not to mention this bolognese recipe uses bison for the protein.

Instead of using regular crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes add flavor and a hint of smokiness, plus there is ZERO added sugar. Best of all, you can store the sauce (alone) in the freezer for up-to 3 months.

spinach recipes, breakfast recipes, egg recipes, baked breakfast recipes, hidden vegetable recipes, hidden veggies

Spinach is one of my favorite veggies and I love eggs and cheese. This spinach egg bake recipe fills my veggie void with onions, red bell pepper and baby spinach. I would definitely add diced tomatoes or serve fresh sliced tomatoes on the side.

pasta recipes. hidden vegetable recipes, hidden veggies, carbonara
Source: Leelalicious

This healthier carbonara pasta recipe uses cauliflower to make a healthier alfredo sauce along with caramelized onions and garlic, a hint of butter, broth, milk and a pinch of salt.

When combined with pasta, bacon and green onion it creates an amazing carbonara pasta that's done in under an hour. If you make enough, you'll have leftovers that taste just as good the next day for a work lunch.

Then There's Zucchini, Lots of Zucchini...

quinoa recipes, breakfast recipes, zucchini recipes. hidden vegetable recipes, hidden veggies, zucchini. muffin recipes

We made something similar to this quinoa zucchini breakfast muffin recipe using potatoes. I can tell you that zucchini hides very well in recipes, especially in breakfast muffin form. On the plus side, this recipe can easily be frozen and reheated in the microwave.

You can check out the nutrition facts between quinoa versus potatoes at SkipThePie (just discovered this gem today). What you're looking for in a food, might not be the same as what I'm looking for. For example, my focus might be on calories, fat and dietary fiber, but you might be more concerned with other aspects of a food like vitamins & minerals, proteins and aminos or fatty acids & fats. 

healthy bread recipes, zucchini recipes, hidden vegetable recipes, hidden veggies

 If you like something a little sweeter, you can start the day off with this easy protein zucchini bread (contains peanut product) with peanut powder for protein and zucchini as the primary ingredients.

pumpkin recipes, zucchini recipes, bread recipes, healthy bread recipes, pumpkin bread, hidden vegetable recipes, hidden veggies

For those with nut allergies, you can try this pumpkin zucchini bread recipe instead. Filled with chocolate chips and topped with a cream cheese glaze, it makes a great dessert. If you'd rather eat it for breakfast, you can substitute the chocolate chips with raisins (or not...if you like chocolate more than I do).

Mission to Save and Thrifty Northwest Mom stick with a more traditional zucchini bread recipe, but they're both very freezer-friendly, which is great if you're trying to use up fresh zucchini. Both recipes are great for making freezable muffins, if you prefer a more on-the-go option.

Last, but not least here are a few more dessert recipes with hidden vegetables. Zucchini is very versatile, as you can see! If you've got space to plant it that gets 6-10 hours of sunlight per day, growing zucchini can save a ton of money and benefit your family's health in ways they could never imagine!

zucchini recipes, brownie recipes, healthy brownie recipes, hidden vegetable recipes, hidden veggies, dessert recipes

If spinach and sweet potatoes aren't your thing, zucchini has a much milder flavor and I personally think it hides itself better than any other vegetable. Check out this recipe for zucchini brownies with 1-minute frosting.

cupcakes recipes, zucchini recipes, hidden vegetable recipes, hidden veggies

If you're an oddball like me and you're not a big chocolate fan, this lemon zucchini cupcakes recipe will knock your socks off. You could even throw in some chia seeds for some superfood action!

There you have it! Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert recipes featuring hidden vegetables!

hidden vegetable recipes

19 Hidden Vegetable Recipes

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  1. Thank you for including our hidden vegetable sauce. So many great ideas on this list. I can't wait to try out a bunch on our ever picky toddler.

  2. I don't know that I have a favorite, but the one that comes to mind is meatloaf. You can add so many amazing vegetables in there and you hardly know they are there. Yum!

  3. My sister will absolutely love these for her picky eaters. And I mean picky, one won't even eat the whole family's favorite of cucumbers in vinegar!!! The HORROR!!!!


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