40 Years of Busy Bees

Hidden Vegetable Meals for Children

Struggling to get your little one to eat more vegetables? We have some great recipe ideas for you! 

Published: 22/05/2023

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Busy Bees

Hidden Vegetable Meals for Children

Making sure children get a good chunk of vegetables in their diet is key, but it proves to be a tricky task for many parents!  

Vegetables play a massive part in supporting growth and development, both physically and mentally. They’re packed full of important nutrients that can help keep nasty bugs at bay and prevent deficiencies.  

Studies have shown that more than 10% of children aged four to five were obese in 2021/2022, with a further 12% being classed as overweight. Ensuring children get the right amounts of vegetables in their meals can prevent overeating and unnecessary snacking, therefore lowering their risk of obesity.  

But with many parents at their wit’s end, watching children pick various colourful pieces of veg out of their meals, it’s sometimes better to take the sneaky option – by serving up hidden vegetable meals to little ones! 

So, if you’re someone who struggles with getting your children to eat veggies, some of the following hidden veg recipes may be the perfect solution!  

Easiest Ways to Hide Vegetables in Food

There are many ways to introduce a love of vegetables! It’s suggested that introducing them from an early age can help with acceptance later down the line. Handmade purees are a great place to start from a young age.  

Otherwise, blending, finely chopping, and mixing into sauces can be the perfect way to sneak veggie goodness into your little ones’ diet. 

If you’re still struggling, hidden vegetable recipes are your friend! They include lots of different vegetables that can’t easily be sniffed out by little veggie detectives!  

For more information on supporting positive eating habits, we’ve got a handy blog with tips and advice for parents.  

Once you know your little one is enjoying something or has tried the same meal a few times and is happily chowing down, you can give them a hint as to what vegetables are hidden inside. This way they may be more receptive to eating it in different, more visible forms!  

Recipes for Hidden Vegetable Meals

Breakfast – Apple Carrot Pancakes

Pancakes tend to be a solid favourite amongst children, renowned for their sweet taste and savoury texture. Want to sneak some goodness into homemade pancakes? Why not try finely grating carrot and apple into the mixture?  


½ a carrot (finely grated) 

½ an apple (finely grated) 

120g self-raising flour 

200ml milk  

1 large egg 


Whisk flour, milk, and egg into a bowl until it becomes a smooth batter.  

Add grated carrot and apple and mix to combine.  

Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan, adding a large spoonful of the mixture once hot.  

Cook until golden brown underneath and the top is starting to set.  

Top with extra fruit and a drizzling of honey (if you prefer them sweeter!). 

Lunch or Dinner - Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Pasta makes for the perfect easy lunch or dinner for children, it can be taken on the go in lunchbox containers or eaten warm if you’re at home. Children tend to love the white cheesy sauce, which makes it a perfect hidden vegetable meal.  


350g macaroni pasta 

1 medium cauliflower 

200ml milk 

100g grated cheese. 

1tbsp butter 

1/2tsp Dijon mustard  


Preheat the oven to 200°c. 

Cook the macaroni in a pan of boiling water according to the packet instructions.  

Cut the cauliflower into small florets and cook in boiling water for 5-6 minutes until the cauliflower has softened.  

Once the cauliflower has cooked, drain it, and add it to a blender, along with the milk, cheese, butter, and Dijon mustard. Blitz together until combined into a sauce consistency. (If it’s too thick, add a dash more milk).  

Drain the pasta and return to the saucepan, adding the cauliflower sauce and mix well.  

Allow to cool and then serve!  

Snacks – Brilliant Beetroot Brownies or Cheddar Spinach Muffins

If all else fails, there are always snacks you can hide your veggies in! Whether your little one prefers sweet or savoury, one of these hidden vegetable recipes is bound to do the trick.  

Cheddar Spinach Muffins Ingredients 

2 medium eggs 

150ml milk  

75g butter (melted) 

150g grated cheese 

1 spring onion (finely chopped) 

75g of baby spinach (finely chopped) 

½ red pepper (diced) 

250g self-raising flour 


Preheat the oven to 180°c and line a muffin tin with cases. 

Whisk eggs in a large bowl and stir in the milk and melted butter. Mix in the cheese, spring onion, baby spinach and diced pepper. 

Add in the flour and mix until all the ingredients have combined.  

Divide the mixture between 12 cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through (a skewer through the middle should come out dry). 

The muffins can be frozen once cooled completely, just leave to defrost for a few hours or overnight.  

Beetroot Brownie Ingredients  

500g cooked beetroot (not in vinegar!) 

100g Medjool dates  

130g plain flour 

1 tsp baking powder 

½ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda 

3tbsp cocoa powder 

3tbsp maple syrup (optional) 


Preheat the oven to 180°c (fan) 200c and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper.  

Add chopped dates and cooked beetroot to the food processor.  

Pulse the ingredients until you have a thick paste. You may need to scrape down the sides a couple of times to ensure it’s all combined.  

Scrape out into a bowl and add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder, and maple syrup (if using) and mix well.  

Transfer to your baking tin and smooth the top.  

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. 

Tricks on Ways to Hide Vegetables in Food

We really hope your little one enjoys eating their fruit and vegetables, but if you opt for any of our hidden veg recipes, we hope they love them!  

Across our nurseries, we pride ourselves on our varied and nutritious NHS Startwell accredited menus, We like to ensure that children enjoy a range of different cuisines, of course, packed with fruit and vegetables! Get a taste of what your child could be eating at one of our Busy Bees nurseries here, and find a nursery to explore today. 

If you have any favourite recipes or ways of getting your children to eat their vegetables, then please feel free to share these on our socials.