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By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Integrative Wellness Counselor and Founder of See Kids Thrive & Eden Life Ministries

So, we understand a healthy diet is critical to our growth and wellbeing.  No need to sugar-coat it anymore.  The Standard American Diet is a slow poison that’s killing us.  We know we need to be getting more fruits and veggies (especially now that the daily rec’s are 7-13 servings a day [16-18 for athletic types]).  Yet, between time and taste buds, we find it incredibly difficult to get NEAR that much.  

What on earth is a mother to do?  Right?  

Well, I guess you could duct tape them to a chair and threaten those wee little tots with a lifetime of slop’n’biscuits if they don’t make those peas vanish STAT!  

OR, you could spare yourself the drama and the chaos (and maybe the fun of it) and opt to help their bodies grow to appreciate those fresh fruits and veggies by slipping some extras under the radar.  

Get crafty with these easy to hide foods that “power up” any meal.

 

Avocados

To some, these creamy, dreamy babies are perfect with anything sweet, savory, spicy, tart… okay, with everything.  To some others, that green, mushy madness is a straight no-go.  

While we love avocadoes sliced, diced and straight off the spoon, we also love their versatility (along with their incredible health benefits).  Try mashed avocadoes in place of mayo in wraps and sandwiches; drop it in a food processor with some cacao and raw honey/agave for a chocolate pudding that will rock your world, or throw it in the blender to make a decadently creamy smoothie or shake.  

Zucchini

This summer beauty is delicious raw or cooked but the waxy texture of zucchini and squash can be a little off-putting to some.  Mix things up by throwing thin slices on a pizza or mixing it into pasta.  Spiralize it and use it in place of pasta in spaghetti or fettuccine.  Slice it lengthwise and layer it into a lasagna.  Slice and bake them into Zucchini Chips or puree them and bake them into cookies, muffins and {sweet} breads.

Beans

Beans beans, good for the heart; the more you eat, the more you… Hey, knock that off!

I love beans and always seem to find ways to incorporate them into all sorts of things.  So, you kid doesn’t always like straight beans… who cares?  There are LOTS of scrumptious ways to enjoy them.  One of my kids’ favorites right now is to enjoy them in salad blends that would remind you of, say, a fish or chicken salad but without all the meat’n’mayo action.  Instead of mayo, you simply use a combination of tahini, cider or wine vinegar and a touch of maple and salt.  Instead of the meat, you coarsely mash your drained beans in a medium bowl with a fork or spud-masher.  Sauce it up with your mayo substitute and mix up the flavor with some of your favorite combos such as minced carrots and celery, sweet pepper and scallions, or cranberries and walnuts (drop the crazy-brow – it’s absolutely delicious in a chickpea salad).

Add a bean mash to wraps, paninis and other handhelds or sweeten the deal by incorporating them into cookies, brownies or truffles.  

Pumpkin, Sweet Potato or Apples

These harvest time favorites seldom need hiding as they truly shine on their own.  Still, where you’re looking to slip in a little extra of these nutritional powerhouses, you just may find yourself having a little too much fun with all the recipes that allow you to incorporate them.  Pumpkin, Sweet Potato and Apple purees can be incorporated into brownies; used in place of oils or liquids in cookies, breads, pancakes and waffles; or whipped into a deliciously festive fall soup.  Drop them in the blender for smoothies or for a fun twist on your favorite pasta sauces.

Broccoli

You may wonder how on earth you’re going to get those tell-tale florets on that plate all “incognito” but fret not, my dear, fret not.

While most reach no further than the cheese drawer to bring the broc, there really are so many more healthy ways to enjoy it.  Case in point: pasta sauce.  Open blender, drop in favorite organic sauce and some steamed or frozen-but-thawed broccoli florets and puree away.  Dump in saucepan to heat and you are in business!  Like pesto?  Break out the mini-chopper and pulse in some broccoli.  Dips & spreads?  Broccoli!  Cake?  You guessed it!  Broccoli!  Wait…what?  Okay, kidding, don’t put it in a cake.  (Though, I’m sure if you’re like some Cupcake Wars star, you could pull it off.  Otherwise, let’s just not go there…)  Hey…you can use them for broccoli and sweet potato cakes!

Pizza, stir-fry, ramen, soup…  So many possibilities for these green gems and even some for their stems as many markets are now also offering broccoli slaw mix which turns into an out of this world side dish when dressed in a maple balsamic vinaigrette with cranberries and walnuts.

Cauliflower

Yes, there really are more ways to enjoy it than steamed and drowning in cheddar.  

Serve cauliflower up buffalo-style.  Throw it on a pizza or whip it up as a hash.  Throw it in the blender for a delicious, creamy, low-cal retake on a classic alfredo sauce.  Pulse it into cauliflower rice or to make up a delectably dippable batch of cauli-tots.

As much as I’d love to keep going here, all this food talk is making me a little hungry and I happen to be sitting right next to the kitchen.  So, yeah, um… your turn!  What are some of your favorite ways to get those extra fruits and veggies in throughout your day?

 

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