Hiding vegetables for Fussy Eaters - Does it work? By Play with Food

Hiding vegetables from fussy eaters – Does it work?

Vegetables can be difficult for fussy eaters to learn to enjoy – they are often bitter and hard “work” from a sensory point of view.  Here is my answer (in a 7 minute audio file) to the frequently asked question – Should I hide vegetables from my fussy eater?  Also, I have included the recipe for my not so hidden vegetable pasta sauce.  It’s a recipe perfect for busy parents wanting to get a meal on the table in under 30 minutes with minimal fuss.  And it’s packed with opportunities for kids to see and talk about the not so hidden vegetables.Hiding vegetables for Fussy Eaters - Does it work? By Play with Food

Here are some of the links to the recipes I mentioned in the talk:

Pinteresting Cauliflower Bread | Play with FoodZucchini Pancakes Conquer Food Jags | Play with FoodParsnip and Carrot Mini Bundt Cakes with Orange Custard | Play with Food

Not-so-hidden-veg pasta sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This recipe is great for family meals. Serve the pasta, grated parmesan and sauce separately from serving dishes in the middle of the table. The point is for everyone to see the chunks of vegetables in the sauce. If a child is not interested in their celery / carrot / onion / mushroom etc. Let them pick it out and put it into a learning bowl. This enables them to touch or interact with that vegetable. For example, my husband isn't a fan of the texture of mushroom (although loves the flavour it lends to this sauce) - he only sometimes now picks out his mushroom and consciously talks about it with the girls. He's learning to love and eat mushrooms because he is in control of eating them or not eating them.
Recipe type: main meal
Serves: 6
  • 500g beef mince
  • Olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 jar of passata, low sodium
  • 2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed not peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 button mushrooms cut into quarters
  • Options for additional flavours (you can add what you have on hand):
  • 1 star anise (remove before serving)
  • 1 cinnamon quill (remove before serving)
  • 2 bay leaves (remove before serving)
  • 2-3 sprigs of parsley and/or basil and/or thyme (substitute with dried versions if you have them on hand)
  • ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1-2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • Other vegetables roughly chopped - capsicum, kale, baby spinach, eggplant, pumpkin
  1. In a large pan, sautee the onion in some olive oil. Once it is going transparent, add the beef. Once the beef is browned, add the remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Top up with water if the mixture is starting to dry out. The longer you can simmer it for the more flavours will be released.
  2. In the meantime, prepare your pasta as per the instructions and grate your parmesan cheese. Serving suggestion pictured is sprial spelt pasta.
  3. Left-over sauce can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days or frozen.

Do you have a favourite way to conveniently present vegetables for your kids?  What steps on the eating heirarchy to your kids get stuck on with most vegetables?  Feel free to post links to your mealtimes and if you try any of my recipes or kids activities out, take a pic and tag me on instagram so that I can have a look (@playwithfood_au)!  Subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date with my blog posts, happy mealtime resources and fussy eater tips!

Happy eating!


I have linked this recipe up with What Kids Eat, the Ultimate Rabbit Hole and Fabulous Foodie Fridays.

14 thoughts on “Hiding vegetables from fussy eaters – Does it work?

  1. This was a great post Simone – loved listening to this. Have you thought about turning these into Podcasts? I listened to it whilst I was preparing breakfast, but it could be listened to in the car or whilst on public transport.

    1. I also enjoyed learning about the 15 exposures average. That is such a great tip to keep in mind…. try, try and try again!
      I learned SO much listening to this. And I do often do the “hide veggies” strategy- but will look at veggies as a discussion opportunity! Thank you xx

      1. Awesome!!! So glad to hear that it helped. It’s one of the main stress relievers at dinner – knowing we have already covered off most food groups across the day. Glad you loved it!

        1. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on juices, too? We have a Nutribullet and every day will have some kale, carrot and fruit blitzed altogether. I always feel a bit deceptive doing this. I suppose I need to involve the kids a bit more in the actual juicing process.

          1. The nutri bullet is great from a nutrient point of view because it uses all of the material you put in. A child’s fruit requirements in a day are 1.5 serves (eg 1 apple and 1 kiwi) and veg is 2.5 – 4.5. So if the juice is mostly fruit try to not give much more fruit during the day and focus more on veg.
            Hiding in juice makes it portable and getting them involved in making and knowing what is in their food from a young age takes away the “deceptiveness”. Hope that helps!

  2. Love hearing you explain it all, such a great idea! My boys are pretty good (touch wood) and if they see my husband and I eating something they will generally at least give it a go. Thanks for linking up with us for Fabulous Foodie fridays, have a great week!

    1. Hi Lauren, Thanks for listening! As you are always in and around the kitchen, I am sure your kids get lots of great exposures to food and would be quite curious about it too. Love that they will try things that you role model for them. Always a pleasure to see so many great FFF recipes.

  3. Interesting post. I have never really hidden vegetables from my kids (or husband!) and have always tried to incorporate lots of veg in our diets. My kids are now 7 and 5 and with a couple of exceptions (asparagus and cooked mushrooms mainly), they absolutely love veg. In fact they usually beg me for the raw veg I’m chopping up before dinner (which I’m very happy to give them). Not sure if I’m just lucky or if it’s a result of always having loads of veg in our diets but I’m very grateful!

    1. Constant exposure to fruits and veg are your greatest tools. Great work! I agree ? We especially love the raw capsicum whilst doing the meal prep in our house. I love that it helps them know what’s in our food in different forms. ?

  4. I loved listening to your blog post and I totally agree with you. I know my boys have way more fruit than veg due to being able to throw it into a bag or pack lunch box and the ease of giving it at breakfast time. I must get better at preparing veg and adding veg to portable foods like you mentioned.
    I’ve been exceptionally lucky with my oldest, Finn (4), as he is one of the few that will try anything and likes the majority of what he tries first time. My youngest, Rory (1), isn’t as easily pleased and it certainly takes a good few tries before he generally accepts certain foods. I always put a little on his highchair but don’t force him to try it. He has only just turned one so I haven’t done any cooking with him but certainly plan to in the future and will let him see all the vegetables going into the food I make.
    I’m glad I came across your blog through What Kids Eat Wednesday and will definitely be exploring your site more and following.
    Thank you,

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