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March 3rd, 2021

Veggie Ninja!

Veggie Ninja!

Delicious ways to sneak extra fruits and vegetables into your family’s diet

 As parents, we are inundated with stats about the importance of including high-fiber, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables into our family’s regular routine. We’re asked at every pediatric appointment, annual physical — even our parent’s cardiologist is asking — if the family is eating their greens. The importance isn’t lost on us, but the execution has sometimes been – a struggle. Convincing a child (or an adult) that Brussels sprouts are an important part of their dinner and not ammunition to fling at their sister can sometimes feel like a futile negotiation.

36% of children in the United States aren’t eating fruits for days at a time, and the number grows when the stats consider how long they go between eating vegetables. As babies, most children are being fed a steady diet of strained peas, smashed sweet potato, and pureed banana on a daily basis But statistics show that the number of children deficient in vital nutrients gained by a steady diet of fruits and vegetables hits a sharp decline once they’re able to grab a bag of Cheetos instead of a jar of macerated string beans. Who would have guessed?

This week, we put together a quick and easy cheat sheet for bulking up your family’s greens routine. Most of these ideas are quick, simple, and so delicious!

Fruit Smoothie Bowl

We know that increasing fruits, vegetables, and yogurt isn’t just good for our children’s bodies, but it’s good for their brains! Improving gut health can impact everything from energy to focus, and this easy, delicious breakfast or dessert has it all.

You’ll need:Greek yogurt (any flavor, but keep an eye on the added sugar content)

  • Fresh spinach
  • Kiwi
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Granola, nuts, or chia

Pineapple is truly the most magical fruit. It can cancel out the flavor of spinach instantly! The more spinach you add, the higher the iron content and the better for the body. Adding kiwi explains away the green tint while adding a delicious tart kick that will leave the sweetest taste in their mouths. Adding granola can help with those who are texture-sensitive, while chia offers an energy boost, and nuts provide protein to keep them satisfied through the morning.

Spaghetti Veggetti

Before adding your family’s favorite standard spaghetti sauce to a box of noodles this week, give it a little nutrient boost!

You’ll need:

  • Your family’s favorite low-sugar spaghetti sauce
  • Spinach or Swiss chard
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Sweet peppers (red and orange are SO high in vitamin C!)
  • Tomato
  • Carrot

Dice up your eggplant and peppers and coat lightly with olive oil. Roast at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Put your carrots, peppers, eggplant, spinach or chard, and tomato into a food processor and pulse. You know your family’s texture needs! Make the sauce as smooth as they need. Adding veggies to your spaghetti sauce makes the dish more satisfying, as well as significantly more nutrient-dense! Use a julienne peeler or a spiralizer to shred your zucchini and toss it together with your pasta sauce. Delicious, high-fiber, and this meal can pack a whole day’s vegetable recommendation in a single plate. 

Fries You’ll Want to Try

The universal language of children seems to be the starchy, salty, nutrient-void but oh-so-addictive French fry. They’re crunchy, they’re scrumptious, and they’re the absolute bane of a parent’s existence. Once they’re in the house, we’re all helpless! But here are a few make-your-own ideas for chips and fries that can shake up the routine without removing the comfort! 

Beet Chips

Remove the root, cap, and skin of your beets and wash any remaining dirt. Slice ultra-thin, coat in olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt, and bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn and bake on the other side until crisp, usually another 10 to 15 minutes. These chips are sweet, salty, and high in fiber and heme protein

Pear Fries

Higher in fiber, this sweet treat doesn’t even feel like pulling a fast one! Sliced to look just like French fries, they’re crunchy, fun, and easy to eat on the go. Pack them in your child’s lunch for a fun lunchtime surprise.

Dessert Nachos

Are you looking for something fun for family movie night snack, but desperate to increase your family’s fruit intake? This sweet treat is a bit on the decadent side, but still better than a bag of chips! Thinly slice a robust breed of apple. Slice about a quarter of an inch thick, maintaining the round shape as much as possible. Lay in an even layer on the plate and lightly drizzle with dark chocolate. The higher percent on the chocolate, the better it is for you! This less-sweet version won’t overpower the sweetness of the apple. You can also use caramel sauce if you have it on hand. Sprinkle the top with crushed pecans, peanuts, or slivered almonds and enjoy!

Meatball Madness!

This recipe can be used for meatballs, meatloaf, or even burgers to add flavor, protein, fiber, and vitamins to all of your family’s favorite dishes!

You’ll need:

  • Ground beef or turkey
  • 1 can of black beans
  • Zucchini
  • Carrot
  • Onion
  • Sweet peppers
  • Celery

Drain and rinse your black beans (reducing the sodium significantly!). Throw them into a food processor with your vegetables, as well as your family’s favorite herbs and spices. We like to use basil, thyme, oregano, garlic, and turmeric. When we make Greek meatballs or burgers, we use rosemary, thyme, basil, and garlic. Once you’ve blended your veg to a smooth consistency, you’ll salt it and leave it. This is a very important step. After about 15 minutes, spread the mixture into a tea towel and ring out as much of the moisture as possible. The mixture will retain a good deal of moisture even after this step, but without it, your meatballs will not hold together! Blend the mixture in with your meat and cook as usual. 

Wonder Bunch knows that it takes more than an education to raise happy, healthy, brilliant children like yours! It takes the time, patience, and love of parents just like you. If you have any veggie-ninja recipes you love, please share them with us! We would love to pass them along to other parents just like you! (And sneak them into our own meal plans!) Email us at Hello@WonderBunch.Com and we’ll be sure to pass your ideas along and give you a shout out in our upcoming posts. We always look forward to reading your tips, ideas, and reviews of our apps and articles. Thank you for being part of the Wonder Bunch team!