How I Got My Toddler To Eat Vegetables

At a recent Cafe' Express, the topic centered around feeding our children, and how to get them to actually eat things other than goldfish crackers! :) Here, one of our Postpartum Support Team vounteers shares some of her experiences in feeding her toddler - with some yummy recipes included!

I’m not quite sure what prompted me to click the “Purchase Now” button for the cookbook Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.

Maybe it was the vintage-looking picture of Jessica holding a plate of brownies and winking—which I found slightly confusing (were these pot brownies?).

Maybe it was the catchy subtitle: “Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food.”

Or maybe it was the famous Seinfeld last name.

Again, I couldn’t tell you why I made the purchase, especially because I was a single, college student with no aspirations of becoming a mother—who needed to get her kids eating good food—in the near future. Yet, somehow it intrigued me.

Seinfeld found herself dreading mealtimes, worried that her boys would favor the fatty and fried and forget the vitamin-rich and fortified. So, she devised a plan. She would begin sneaking vegetables into their dinners. Yes, the occasional carrot or celery stalk still made its way onto the table, but most of the time, her husband and sons had no idea they were eating beet pancakes, butternut squash mac and cheese, or cauliflower scrambled eggs!

I had completely forgotten about this cookbook, and the yummy meals it had afforded me in college, until my two-year-old claimed that broccoli—a vegetable that he had gobbled just three days before—was “yuck!”

I dug through some old boxes, and there it was, my beloved cookbook! Now, a perfect mother would veggie-fie every meal, but since she doesn’t live at my house, I simply choose one weekend a month to get my Deceptively Delicious out, hunt for recipe ideas, and plan some veggie-infused meals.

The way that Seinfeld hides spinach in brownies and carrots in spaghetti pie is that she steams and purees the vegetables and then finds ways to add them into the crusts of pies, the creaminess of Ranch Dressing, or the sponginess of pound cake. She gives several tips and tricks for how to accomplish the steaming and pureeing tasks and still have time to be a present mother. She explains that if you spend a couple hours on a Saturday or Sunday steaming and pureeing, you can make several batches of purees and freeze the extras in measured out amounts.

I like to choose two vegetables to tackle at a time. For instance, last week, I choose cauliflower and beets. I steamed and pureed, and then I measured my purees out in ¼ cups to bag and freeze. Now, whenever I want to add a little cauliflower to my mashed potatoes, I just have to grab a frozen ¼ cup puree, defrost it in 2 minutes in a bowl of water, and voila, I have instantly fortified my mashed potatoes—without a change in taste, might I add! For the beets, which have a significantly stronger flavor than cauliflower, I made pink chicken tenders by adding the beets into the crust, and the next day, we had pink, heart-shaped pancakes. I even involved my two-year-old, asking him to add the special color to the pancakes!

So, enough about how great this is, here are a few easy recipes to get you started!


Coffee Cake


Prep time: 15 minutes, Total time: 75 minutes, Serves 4



·       Nonstick cooking spray

·       1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar

·       4 tablespoons butter

·       1 ¼ cups low-fat (1%) buttermilk or nonfat (skim) milk

·       1 cup reduced-fat sour cream

·       1 large egg

·       2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

·       2 cups whole-wheat flour

·       2 teaspoons baking powder

·       1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

·       1/2 teaspoon salt

·       1 cup butternut squash puree

·       1/2 cup mini-marshmallows


·       ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

·       ¼ cup firmly packed

·       2 teaspoons cinnamon


1.    Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a 9-inch cake pan or 8x8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

 2.   In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter until creamy. Beat in 1 cup of the buttermilk or milk, the sour cream, egg, and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, and mix until completely incorporated.

 3.   Pour half of the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Spread the squash puree over the batter and sprinkle with marshmallows. Stir the remaining ¼ cup milk into the rest of the batter and spread evenly over the squash filling.  

 4.   Mix together the topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly over the batter. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on a rack before cutting into wedges or squares.


Macaroni and Cheese


Prep time: 5 minutes, Total time: 25 minutes, Serves 4


·       1 ½ cups elbow macaroni

·       Nonstick cooking spray

·       1 tablespoon olive oil

·       1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

·       ½ cup nonfat (skim) milk

·       ½ cup butternut squash or cauliflower puree

·       1 ½ cups shredded reduced-fat

·       Cheddar cheese (about 8 oz)

·       4 oz (almost ¼ cup) reduced-fat or nonfat cream cheese

·       ½ teaspoon salt

·       1/8 teaspoon paprika

·       1/8 teaspoon pepper


1.    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the macaroni, and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain in a colander.

 2.   While the macaroni is cooking, coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the oil, then the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture resembles a thick paste but has not browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

 3.   Add the milk and cook, stirring every now and then, until the mixture begins to thicken, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vegetable puree, Cheddar, cream cheese, and seasonings, and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir in the macaroni and serve warm.


Hot Cocoa

WITH Sweet Potato

Prep time: 5 minutes, Total time: 6 minutes, Serves 2


·       1 ¼ cups nonfat (skim) milk

·       ½ cup sweet potato puree

·       2 tablespoons chocolate syrup

·       1/8 teaspoon salt

·       1/8 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (optional)

·       Marshmallows, for serving


1.    Combine the milk, sweet potato puree, chocolate syrup, salt, and spice in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Pour into mugs and top with marshmallows.

 You can find some more sample recipes and cookbook information at Jessica Seinfeld’s website, do it Delicious. Enjoy hiding those veggies!