Sneaky Nutrition: Pureéd to Perfection
by rachael lee.
Dinnertime can be the most challenging moment of a nanny's workday. Picky eaters can seem impossible and leave us feeling hopeless and defeated. What’s a nanny to do when MomBoss leaves and tells you to make sure the kids eat a "healthy dinner" when you know putting veggies on your charges’ plates will only cause some serious meltdowns?
DON'T PANIC. PURÉE.
I have found so many incredible ways to sneak veggies into almost any dish! Even better: the kids love it. Puréeing healthy vegetables in a blender allows us to sneak fruits and veggies into the kids' meals flawlessly, sometimes without them even noticing!
On the menu for this column: sneaking vegetables into a kid-approved spaghetti. This recipe is so simple, yet extremely delicious and nutritious! There are very subtle changes that can be made in order to turn a basic pasta dish into a nutrition-conscious caregiver’s dream come true.
Start with store-bought sauce.
Believe it or not, pasta with sauce isn't always a healthy meal. Most jarred tomato sauces are loaded with sugar. Try talking to your boss about choosing a sauce that is all natural, organic, or at least lighter on the sugar to give the meal a healthier start. The 6- and 8-year-old kids that I nanny have a favorite pasta sauce. If you know of one that the kids love already, start with that.
Noodles are next.
Swap out regular pasta for some whole wheat noodles to make a nutritious meal. If your charges don't eat much meat, check the label on the pasta box and grab the noodles that are high in protein, which is important in a growing child’s diet. Some types of pasta are also fortified with Omega 3s. If the kids have a favorite shape, like bowties or elbows, choose that one! Make it a fun meal that will make them excited to sit at the table.
Add the nutrition.
Grab some broccoli, shredded carrots, and spinach to give those kids the vitamins they have been resisting!
- Boil your charge’s favorite pasta on the stove according to the directions on the box.
- Pour your store-bought pasta sauce into a blender.
- Add your shredded carrots and spinach and turn the blender on low. If you don't have a high-speed blender at your disposal, be careful with adding broccoli as it won't break down as smoothly (and we don't want to get caught).
- Slowly increase the speed of the blender until thoroughly puréed and completely smooth.
- Take your sauce and place it on the stove, heating until warm but not too hot for the kids.
- Pour your sneaky creation over the noodles and serve.