When my daughter was a baby, I made most of her baby food. I blended all sorts of fruits and vegetables in hopes of getting her used to different flavors and textures. And it worked . . . for a while. Then she turned 2, and suddenly all bets were off. My star eater decided she was going to subsist solely on carbs, and no fruit or vegetable would pass through her lips.
I know a lot of parents who go to great lengths to get their kids to eat their vegetables. Some spend hours researching and crafting tasty smoothies packed with fruits and veggies, while others meticulously dice a variety of vegetables to hide in things, like muffins and meatloaf. Those are great if you have a kid who will actually drink something green or eat meatloaf, but if you're anything like me, you just don't have the time or patience to cater to picky eaters. My sanity depended on my ability to outsmart a toddler, and so this hack was born.
It's so simple. Just grab your child's favorite pasta (mine only likes elbows because toddlers are weird), and cook according to package directions. About halfway through the cook time, throw in a handful of frozen broccoli florets — I have found that the whole florets work better than the chopped — and let them cook with the pasta. Drain when finished, and return to the pot. Throw in some butter and stir. As you mix everything up, those tiny little pieces from the crown will stick to the noodles and are basically impossible to pick out.
It was a battle of wills for about 10 minutes. She wasn't going to touch it, and I wasn't going to remake it. Ultimately, my daughter's love of buttered noodles got her to at least try the speckled elbows, and the rest is history. My daughter is now 4, and broccoli is her favorite vegetable, but I'll still mix it in with her buttered noodles on occasion.
I recently shared this trick with my parent friends, and it worked like a charm for those who tried it. One mom was able to hide the broccoli completely by covering the noodles with Parmesan cheese, and another relied on tricolored pasta to camouflage the tiny green specks. Brilliant! Happy cooking!