Getting your kids to eat fruits and vegetables can be similar to pulling teeth or even moving mountains.  For some reason, kids always shy away from anything that resembles a fruit or a vegetable, but that’s about half of the food they should be eating.

Ohio State University conducted a study in 2009 that showed only 22% of kids get enough fruits and vegetables in their diet. Furthermore, the number of kids that eat the recommended amount decreases as the kids become older. How is a busy mom supposed to get her kids to eat more fruits and vegetables? By adding one or two secret ingredients into her meals. Here are five practical tips for sneaking fruits, vegetables, and beans into the meals you cook on a regular basis.

  1. Substitute eggs with fruit. For each egg in baked sweet breads, pie fillings, and other baked goods, substitute 1/4 banana or 1/4 cup applesauce. You might need to do some taste tests to determine the right proportions or whether a banana or applesauce works better for your particular dish.
  2. Puree soft vegetables. Add a layer of a pureed soft vegetables like cooked cauliflower, carrots, sweet potatoes, or root vegetables to your macaroni and cheeses, lasagnas, casseroles, or quesadillas.  The dishes will be creamier and healthier.
  3. Make a bean paste. Mash cooked beans to create a paste to hold a sandwich or quesadilla together. Black beans and pinto beans work very well. Add a few spices and your family will not suspect a thing.
  4. Use bean flour to chicken soups and sauces.  You can make bean flour at home by grinding dried beans to replace regular flour. Use the freshly ground flour within a few days to retain all of the nutrients.
  5. Mash avocados for creaminess. Use mashed avocados in sauces and creamy dishes to take the dishes to the next level. Mashed avocados can also be hidden in smoothies, but be aware of the suggested serving size for avocados.

Whether your kids love vegetables or hate vegetables, these five practical tips will take all of your meals to the next level by incorporating healthy, fresh ingredients. While you are preparing your dinner menu for the coming weeks, identify ingredients that you can substitute or add to make your meals even healthier with these five secret ingredients. Happy healthy eating!