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Vegetable Packed Meatballs for KidsIf your house is like mine, your kids have a mental list of vegetables. Those vegetables that they “like” and those that they “dislike”.

Luckily for us, my five-year-old is finally past the very-picky eating stage and will try new foods which includes a larger variety of vegetables.  My three-year-old still has a short list of acceptable vegetables.   

Variety is key for a healthy diet in kids (and adults!) as each fruit and vegetable contains its’ own unique combination of nutrients and antioxidants.  If you have a kid that only eats apples and broccoli for example, the child would be missing vital, beneficial nutrients are not found in apples and broccoli. 

While it is true that taking a multivitamin can replace vitamins and minerals, a laboratory cannot duplicate all of the rich phytonutrients found in the real fruit or vegetable.  A phytonutrient is a plant-derived compound associated with positive health benefits. 

Like my kids, your kids might not embrace a huge variety of food right now but they are more likely to include healthy foods in the future with some habits that can be learned.  Try to help encourage healthy eating habits with these suggestions

  • Setting a good example by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables in your household.
  • If your child tries a fruit or vegetable and does not like it, first commend them for trying something new, then reassure them that our taste buds change as we grow so they may like it later on.
  • When talking to your kids about fruits or vegetables that you may not like, just address it in a way that suggests you don’t like it, but other people do (instead of making it sound awful and no one could ever bear to swallow it!).

If you enjoy cooking, and have some free time (ha! a rarity, right?) to experiment, there are many ways to add small amounts of vegetables to meals without them standing out.  Examples include casseroles, smoothies, sauces, and spreads.

 

Here is my kid-tested recipe for healthier, vegetable packed, meatballs!

While my five-year-old now eats mushrooms, my younger kid will not. But she will gobble up these meatballs without question!  I have made these a few different ways and find baking to be easiest for me.  As an alternative, my friend browns her meatballs and then puts them in the crock pot with an unseasoned tomato sauce – the meatballs flavor the sauce for a delicious, easy meal ready at dinnertime.  I plan to try this method too!

Baked Meatballs with Mushrooms and Onions

Servings: 4

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ cup mushrooms
  • ¼ cup onions
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil, and place a baking rack on top.
  3. Chop mushrooms and onions very finely, either in food processor or by hand. The smaller the chop will make for a more cohesive meatball.
  4. Mix all ingredients well, and shape into meatballs (mine are around the size of a golf ball).
  5. Place meatballs on baking rack (this allows some fat to drip off the meatball, but you can also place meatballs directly on the baking sheet).
  6. Turn the oven down to 300 degrees.
  7. Place meatballs in oven and bake for 40 minutes or until meatballs are browned.
  8. Serve, or simmer in tomato sauce for an hour if desired.

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