How To Hide Veggies In Food

It’s a well-known fact that sometimes it can be near on impossible to get fussy eaters. Parents, you don’t have the time or energy to sit with a stubborn child, having a standoff over the cold cauliflower. Junior generally wins these battles anyway. A great short term solution is to embrace your inner ninja and master how to hide veggies in food.

There are easy ways of hiding veggies and getting them into picky eaters. Clever, sneaky ways. It’s called Covert Cuisine. Here’s how it works:

Covert Cuisine – Hiding Veggies Like A Ninja

hidden veggie

Put simply, Covert Cuisine is basically just hiding vegetables in everyday food that you know your little one loves and will have no hesitation in eating. An article by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that hiding veggies is an effective strategy to increase children’s vegetable intake and reduce energy intake. Or in other words, increase healthy food intake while decreasing unhealthy food intake.

This strategy is not a long term one, but a great short term play while the kids are younger. Hiding a vegetable or two in food is a great way to make sure healthy and nutritious vegetables are going in. When they are older and understand the benefits of healthy eating, then they can make their own educated decisions on the zucchini, sweet potato, carrots, spinach, cauliflower and any other hidden veggie you have ninja’d into their meals.

Hidden Veggie Recipes


Smoothies and drinks are a great way to incorporate fruit and vegetables into a yummy drink. Banana and strawberry smoothies with coconut milk, or sparkling water with strawberry, lime or lemon floating on top that they can have when Mom and Dad drink wine with dinner. Kids feel a bit more grown-up if they can have a drink with bubbles in it, like Mum and Dad. The great thing about smoothies is that they are perfect for hiding veggies like spinach, avocado or carrot in there. The color and taste of the fruit and berries you use masks the vegetable so they are not even noticeable. 

hiding veggies

Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese is a great recipe for hidden vegetables. You can hide a little grated carrot or zucchini, or pureed veggies like pumpkin. Add bite-sized pieces of cauliflower that are a similar size to the pasta you use and you will be barely able to tell the difference once they are swimming in the creamy cheese sauce. Another alternative is mixing pureed cauliflower and broccoli into the cheese sauce itself. This adds a creamy and velvety texture to the already creamy sauce. Not a super healthy meal, but boy oh boy, watch the mac and cheese along with the hidden vegetable disappear into little tummies instantly!

Hidden Veggie Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese, a firm family favorite, is a repository for hidden veggie gems. Pureed vegetables like broccoli, carrot, zucchini, or bell pepper remain undetected when added to the pasta sauce. The flavor of the pasta sauce is quite powerful so even try a few visible vegetables like shredded spinach, chopped sweet potato and carrot. This will help your kids get used to eating them and associating a nice taste like bolognese spaghetti sauce with these veggies. Check out the full recipe for our Hidden Veggie Bolognese 😋

hidden vegetable

Burgers, Meatballs & Nugets

Hamburgers are great to mix ground meat like pork, chicken, beef or lamb with crushed lentils or black beans. These additional legumes add fibre, potassium and protein for growing bodies. Meatloaf, meatballs, taco ground beef and chicken nuggets will also benefit from using the hidden pulse method. Same as the bolognese, you don’t also have to completely hide the vegetables. Some grated carrots and shredded zucchini are just visible in a burger but don’t alter the taste at all.

Dips & Salsa

Salsa and dip using tomatoes, onions, corn, avocado, or a touch of mild chilli will make little taste buds dance. Try cucumber and mint in a creamy dip and go for tortilla chips or whole-grain crackers for dipping for a healthy snack. Little hands love helping themselves with crackers, chips, and dip. Before opting for crackers and chips, give carrot, cucumber, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and celery sticks a go alongside the dip. It might be a winner and you have just scored yourself a double veggie winner – dipping veggie sticks in a hidden veggie dip… WINNING!

how to hide veggies

Sweet Potato Fries

French fries made from sweet potatoes add vitamin A and C to the meal. Baking or using an air fryer instead of deep-frying makes a healthier option. You could buy the packet of sweet potato fries, but those have additives and preservatives which you want to avoid when you can. To make these yourself, simply chop up the sweet potato in little sticks, lay them on an oven tray, drizzle some olive oil over them and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika and let the oven do the rest for 30 minutes.

Muffins & Scones

Baked goods like scones and muffins are an easy way to add fruit and vegetables to a picky eaters plate. Date and pumpkin scones, carrot and pineapple muffins, blueberry, spinach and apple muffins are just some of the delicious choices to tempt young palates. Try mini muffins for ease of holding and eating. 

how to hide vegetables


Pizza is where you can have a field day. Make the tomato sauce base by adding blended extras like carrot, zucchini, onion, capsicum, garlic or replacing the dough with a cauliflower crust. Get the family to help choose their toppings, you might get lucky by having your young one put some extra veggies on top. Check out our super easy and family friendly Tortilla Pizza Recipe 🍕

Cauliflower Mash & Rice

Mashed potato or mashed cauliflower look-alike in texture and appearance. Try the mashed cauliflower for added potassium and vitamin C. You never know, this might become a family favorite in your house, it definitely is in ours! Along the same theme,Cauliflower Fried Rice is absolutely delicious and a winner for all ages.

pureed vegetables

Baked Goods

Biscuits, with sultanas and chocolate bits, give the best of both worlds. You can sneak in beetroot or pumpkin into chocolate brownies or even some sneaky spinach in homemade muesli bars.

Cakes or cupcakes have a myriad of healthy ideas to try. Carrot cake, fruit cake with light icing. Or how about blending small amounts of green vegetables like zucchini or spinach into a chocolate cake batter. Chocolate and avocado icing is a popular alternative that is creamy, low sugar and full of healthy nutrients.

hiding vegetables

Simple Snacks

Carrot sticks or pieces of apple, banana make great snacks to have available. Just add yoghurt or a healthy dip.

Popsicles & Iceypoles

Homemade popsicles make use of leftover fruit, berries, melon, mango, or peaches. The fruit adds sweetness without adding sugar. I like to blend up berries, bananas and spinach with some coconut milk and my kids love them.

How To Hide Veggies In Food – Other Considerations

how to hide veggies in food

Some might say tricking kids into eating vegetables by hiding them in their food will turn your 3 and 4-year-olds into super sleuths as they try and find a shred of carrot in a meatball and start picking it out. Your little one may catch on so it is good to have a variety of hidden veggie recipes like the above to keep things exciting, and healthy. 

I believe for the most part children will eat the meatball or mac and cheese because they are actually tasty and won’t be too concerned if there is a hidden veggie in there.  For the picky eater, there is no better way than covert cuisine. Even if kids still refuse to eat, they will eat when they get hungry.

Get Everyone Involved In The Process

Involve them with helping in the kitchen, with the baking and even the cleanup. They will be proud to have the rest of the family taste their muffins or whatever delicious meal they have helped whip up. Help them to plant, grow and tend to their own veggie patch. This teaches them where some of their food comes from and how to prepare it for their dinner plate.

Eating together as a family and letting them see what you are eating will have them copying you so they can do what Mom and Dad do.

If they are growing and developing normally for their age and height, they are eating enough. Steering their food choices helps them define what they like and dislike and how much food they eat. It is normal for your child to express likes and dislikes and then change their mind on the same foods.

Picky Eater Phases

A picky eater between the ages of 2 and 4 will usually go back and forth in a range of 30 different foods, including cereal, crackers, sandwiches, fruit, and yoghurt.  So don’t be surprised if they get over one of last weeks favorites each day. Sometimes they go through a fad where they will only eat one food for every meal. After two weeks they will branch out to taste or touch other food.

There are occasions where it is okay for your child to eat different food from the family at a meal. If they are sick, their appetite wains and they may just want yoghurt or a sandwich. You might have a night where you are having a vindaloo or some other exotic taste that a child’s palate can’t cope with. This is okay too, for that one night you can serve them pizza or mac and cheese.

Having people over for dinner may mean you eat later. Feed junior a quick spaghetti bolognese or hidden veggie sausage and mash before the adults eat and they can be watching cartoons or sleeping while you are enjoying your meal. There is always room for flexibility with kids because each day can and most likely will bring you something new.

Last But Not Least…

Above all make mealtimes fun, talk about the day and what each family member did. Talk to your toddler about what they painted at Kindy. Having a relaxed atmosphere at dinner time means they are distracted and will eat without thinking about it too much. Talk about the older children’s sports or how many cars Dad fixed today. Distraction is another tool in Covert Cuisine’s toolbelt and a great tool in creating a family bond