Georgia Barnes BHSc Nut | Resident Nutritionist & Food Consultant 

As much as we love educating children to recognise real-food ingredients, the reality of them eating as much as we’d like them to can often be tricky. Whether it’s for toddlers or teenagers, here’s some practical solutions to help increase the nutritional density of your family’s diet with some sneaky recipe adjustments.


Finding a recipe that works is often the hardest part. Google “healthy recipes for kids” and you are inundated with options. The truth is, every child is different and often making some subtle and gradual changes to your household’s favourite meals can have the best results long term.

Tips to get started.

  • Start small. Gradually adjusting to your child’s tastes might seem tedious at first, but the goal is long term gain. Adding a little more of the healthier ingredient each time you cook a recipe will ease them into it. 
  • Preparation is key. Try finely grating fruits and vegetables or steaming and puréeing smoothly before integrating into a recipe. Smooth and subtle rather than obvious changes to colours and textures will help the disguise. 
  • Think visual. As above, colours and textures are often the giveaway that something is up for selective eaters. Choose to integrate ingredients that will camouflage well both visually and in consistency. Pair similar colours together, peel the green from zucchini and purée root vegetables until silky smooth before mixing. 
  • Choose wholegrain or wholemeal over refined and white. Fibre is so essential for good digestion, gut flora and overall well being, especially for little ones. Opting for brown rice, wholemeal flour and bread, or wholemeal pastas are easy places to start. If at first you don’t succeed, try introducing gradually as mentioned above; e.g. cook half brown rice and half white, half wholemeal flour and half white when baking or half wholemeal spaghetti with half white for pasta etc. 
  • It’s not always about veggies. There’s lots of nutrient-rich ingredients that will support your child’s growth and development. Protein-rich sources such as Greek yoghurt, silken tofu, beans and legumes are neutral in colour and low-key in flavour. Healthy fats that are high in essential vitamins and trace minerals such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado, tahini, flaxseeds, chia, sunflower seeds and pepitas also fly under the radar exceptionally well! 


Pasta sauces and pizza bases. 

Cooking and puréeing veggies into sauces makes them virtually unrecognisable. Blending orange-hued sweeter vegetables like carrot, pumpkin or sweet potato into tomato-based pasta sauces is always a success. This also adds a great source of Vitamin C and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K (hello immune support!) and naturally thickens the sauce! Use with wholegrain pasta, on pizza bases, fold into taco mince or as a dipping sauce with simple proteins. Puréed cauliflower, pumpkin and peeled zucchini work really well in creamy, cheese-based sauces with macaroni, as a dip with corn chips or on top of nachos.

Bliss balls, meatballs and falafels.

Blending and rolling is a great way to turn a nutrient-rich mixture into bite size, kid-friendly foods. Using a food processor ensures all ingredients are integrated evenly and the mixture is the same consistency. The best savoury options include using a quality protein base such as lean chicken or beef mince, organic legumes such as chickpeas, cannellini beans or pinto beans. Combine with egg, onion, garlic and wholegrain bread crumbs then add peeled and grated zucchini, carrots, onions and garlic. For sweet bliss balls use Medjool dates or sulphite-free apricots and coconut as a base. Blend with chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini for healthy fats and trace minerals. Add carob or cacao powder, vanilla extract or cinnamon for natural flavouring. 

Cakes, biscuits and slices. 

Our Kindy Kitchens have seen this work time and time again, however often the idea of hiding vegetables in a cake seems worse than the result when it comes to cooking at home. The classic carrot cake is something we’re all comfortable with, however many other vegetables work well into baked goods too! Try adding peeled zucchini into carrot cake, banana bread or muffins. Add grated or pureed beetroot, baby spinach or sweet potato into a chocolate cake or even organic black beans for dense, protein and fibre-rich brownies. 

Fritters, pancakes and pikelets.

We all know kids love pancakes! They’re always a favourite across our seasonal menus. Using whole grain flour as a base is a great start. Grating neutral coloured vegetables like zucchini or cauliflower into savoury sweet corn fritters, adding mashed banana or cannellini beans to your regular pancake or pikelet batter, or using toppings like our very popular chia jam is a great way to increase the nutritional content and boost their fibre-intake. Pancake or fritter batter also doubles as waffle mixture! Try changing up the cooking method to try something new. 

Smoothies, milkshakes and ice blocks. 

Smoothies are always a hit. Trying making them different colours using a variety of frozen fruits. Anything pink or purple is popular at the centres thanks to antioxidant and Vitamin-C dense berries. Ensure the smoothie is slightly sweet with the addition of frozen ripe banana, raw honey, pure maple or coconut water (also great for electrolytes and minerals). Disguising Greek yoghurt and silken tofu for natural protein will not spoil the flavour and will make them perfectly creamy. You can also squeeze 1-2 children’s servings of veggies into a single smoothie with the addition of peeled zucchini, steamed cauliflower or cucumber. This might sound a little scary, but as long as it’s blended into a smooth consistency with some familiar flavours, you’ll even surprise yourself! If smoothies aren’t working, try freezing the mixture into some fun ice-block moulds for a different approach. 

I hope these simple suggestions provide some inspiration and motivation for you and your family. Please reach out if you have any questions or suggestions, I’m always here to help as I’m very passionate about supporting the health and wellbeing of our little one’s growing minds and bodies. 

To find recipes from the Kindy Kitchen menus or for more nutritional information, please speak to one of the reception staff at your centre, or visit the website.