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  Secrets to Hiding Fruits and Veggies in Your Toddler’s Food

Many toddlers this age flat-out refuse to eat their fruits or vegetables. And they may refuse a variety of other nutritious foods, too. If this is the situation at your house, try not to force the issue or bribe your picky eater. This will surely turn dinnertime into a power struggle, and food into an unhealthy bargaining tool.

So what’s a parent to do? Continue to offer healthy foods and make sure your little one is taking his vitamins. And there’s one more thing you can do — sneak in the healthy stuff. Here’s how:

Grate veggies for toppings: If your toddler doesn’t like fresh tomatoes, try homemade tomato sauce with pasta instead. Other vegetables — like carrots, squash, green peppers and onions — can be finely grated and added to the spaghetti sauce and he’ll never know the difference. Also try mixing finely chopped spinach into ricotta cheese for delicious stuffed shells.

Try bread, pancakes and muffins: Low-fat pumpkin bread is a good way to offer the wonderful nutrition of pumpkin. Also try adding pureed vegetables or fruits to muffins. Baby food also does the trick. And grated vegetables can make yummy pancakes, like potato pancakes with some grated red pepper. This colorfully fun pancake could thrill any toddler.

Puree all sorts of things: Pureed fruits or vegetables can add moisture, nutrition and lots of flavor to your favorite dish. For meat loaf, you can add almost any pureed or grated vegetable. Or try making a vegetable puree base for soup by cooking potatoes and veggies in broth until tender. Then mix in a blender until smooth and creamy. You can add whatever else you want to your soup and season to taste.

Slice it up: Raw fruits and vegetables are usually the best way to enjoy their full nutritional value. And if you slice them up and offer some type of dipping sauce, your little one will more likely take the bait. Try slicing up apples and offering a caramel dipping sauce. Or serve bananas and strawberry slices with yogurt. Baby carrots with ranch dressing are usually a hit, too.

Don’t Give Up
It’s a good idea to continue to offer fruits and veggies the traditional way so that your toddler is exposed to these foods, and will (hopefully) eventually develop a taste for them. But in the meantime, it’s perfectly okay to hide his fruits and veggies here and there. Don’t think of it as cheating. Think of it as a delicious way to serve healthy food. And remember, each bite adds up. So get to it!

For more great tips on hiding fruits and veggies in your toddler’s food, check out Missy Chase Lapine‚Äôs New York Times bestseller, The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals (Running Press, March 2007). Or visit