Fill your Plate: Hidden veggies and fun snack for kids

By Sandra J., Dietetic Intern at the University of Arizona

Making meals and snacks that your kids will eat and like can be challenging. As busy parents, making creative meals may sound impossible. So Much so, that parents will settle with our kids often eating pre-packaged meals like Mac N Cheese.

As a parent and nutritionist, I know the importance of vegetables and fruit. However, I struggle to get my children to eat their veggies but I try to find ways to sneak them in their plate (meals).

Here is an easy pasta dish that has whole grains and some fiber from the pasta, vitamins, and minerals from the marinara/ spinach sauce and protein from a kid’s favorite food… cheese!

Give this recipe a try, parents!

Bows of Pasta


Ÿ 1 box (16oz) of whole wheat bow tie pasta

Ÿ Jar (16oz) of Marinara sauce

Ÿ 1 (16oz) bag frozen spinach (thawed and strained)

Ÿ Parmesan cheese 2 cups


1). Cook pasta as directed.

2). In a blender, blend the marinara and thawed and strained spinach.

3). After pasta is cooked, strain and place back in hot pot.

4). Turn heat on medium. In the hot pot, combine blended marinara and spinach sauce with pasta bows.

5). Add the shredded Parmesan cheese and gently fold (mix) everything together until heated (about 5 minutes).

Notes: Blending the thawed spinach into the marinara sauce adds an extra boost of nutrition such as vitamin A, C, K, folic acid, iron, and calcium. No wonder Popeye ate this to stay strong and healthy!

If your little is not a fan of tomatoes or you just need an idea to swap the marinara sauce for something else, use pesto sauce instead.

Teddy Toast

(recipe adapted from “Teddy Bear Toast” New Horizon Academy Kids Cuisine,

Weather this is prepared for breakfast or for a fun snack, this take on toast sets your kids up for “bear-y” good day!

This toast has whole grains and fiber, plant protein from the peanut butter and vitamins and minerals from the fruit.


Ÿ Whole wheat toast

Ÿ Peanut butter*

Ÿ Banana, sliced

Ÿ Blueberries (washed and dried).


1). Toast 1 slice of whole wheat bread.

2). Spread about 1 tablespoon of peanut butter onto bread.

3). Slice banana into coins and use banana slices for ears and a nose.

4). Use the blueberries for eyes and top of the nose (place one blueberry on banana slice).

Serve these “Teddy Toasts” with some low-fat milk (8oz), some blueberries and the rest of the banana that is not used on little Teddy.

*Note: Try getting a no sugar added peanut butter to help reduce the amount of sugar your child may get on a daily basis.

You can also use raisins in place of the blueberries to change things up.

I hope these ideas can be added to your kitchen toolbox of recipes. Enjoy!!

Image from: “Teddy Bear Toast” New Horizon Academy Kids Cuisine,


For more fun recipes check out the website. Also check out the produce in season section, to get some yummy fresh produce.

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