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.

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