Island Cooking: Sneak Veggies Into Your Meals

The other night when I was planning dinner for my son – the same son who only eats plain pasta, peanut butter sandwiches and hamburgers – I was absolutely shocked when I asked him what he wanted with his pasta and he said “a salad.”

After I picked myself up off the floor, wiped the tears of joy from my eyes and tried to erase the look of shock off my face and compose myself before asking, “What made you ask for a salad?” I’ve only been begging-nagging-cajoling him for, oh let’s see, just about forever to start eating better. He just calmly looked at me and said that the doctor said he should eat better. This from a kid who has never ever tasted a condiment, boxed cereal of any kind and can’t stand the sight sauces, fruits and much, much more.


So after years of me trying to get him to try different foods, all it took was one person – obviously not me – to at least start the change in him. So, trying not to get to excited, I grabbed a pen and paper and practically had to restrain myself from shouting the questions at him, but started to make a list. “What kind of fruit will you eat?”

“Apples, possibly oranges.” So we’ll work on that one.

Then I asked about vegetables. I’ve always struggled with him with this one. To date, the only one I really knew he would somewhat eat was green beans. So once again I found myself picking myself up off of the floor when he said, “steamed Brussels sprouts and asparagus.” He named a few more things he would be willing to try, which I barely heard because I was so excited I was practically racing out the door to get to the grocery store before it closed.

I went a tad overboard. I figured if this kid would eat Brussel sprouts, why not try okra and – I know what you’re thinking – what in the world is she thinking? I definitely got a little ahead of myself on that one. I got bananas, which I should have known he didn’t like because I can’t eat them except in muffins or banana bread. I think I bought every steamable vegetable-in-a-bag they had, and some fresh veggies. I wanted all fresh, but definitely knew this was going to be a work in progress and I would have to go about it very carefully. So with everything loaded in the car, I headed home planning healthy meals in my head while eating my 3 Musketeers candy bar.

Apparently, my excitement wasn’t as contagious as I thought because when I asked him to help me decide what he wanted to eat I got the “Oh I don’t care, whatever.” Well I wasn’t going to let that get me down, but I knew I’d have to go pretty carefully. I didn’t want to turn him off completely. It’s been a few days and I’m glad to report some progress has been made, and I’ll keep trying!

So this week I’ll share a couple simple things for those of you who may have a picky kid just like mine. Good thing he doesn’t read this column because he would die if he knew he’d eaten spinach!

Now it’s time for us adults to enjoy some of our hidden vegetables!


Veggie Bloody Mary

  • 1 1/4 oz. vodka
  • V8 Juice
  • 1/4 oz. Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce
  • Salt, pepper, celery salt
  • Crushed ice
  • Option: Prepared horseradish to taste or wasabi

Pour vodka, Worcestershire sauce, seasonings and Tabasco into a glass over crushed ice. Add the tomato juice and stir well.

Garnish with a celery stalk. You can also garnish with a stalk of spiced asparagus and a lemon or lime wedge.


Hidden vegetable Sloppy Joes

You can use ground hamburger, ground chicken or a mixture of both.

  • 2 lbs. ground hamburger, ground chicken or combination
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp.  mustard

In a large skillet, break up and brown your meat mixture and drain off any fat. In a blender, add onion, carrots, celery and green pepper. Then add vinegar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Puree and add to your cooked meat in the skillet. Simmer, cooking about 10 to 15 minutes. You can prepare this in the morning and place in a Crock-Pot on warm until dinnertime. This freezes really great too.


Hidden Vegetables: Sauce for spaghetti, pizza, lasagna and more

This recipe can make a large amount. Let simmer in your Crock-Pot and then freeze in smaller containers.

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb. beef or ground turkey or chicken
  • 5 cups chopped tomatoes, blended in a blender
  • Salt and pepper

Heat oil in pan and sauté onion and garlic. Stir in herbs and cayenne. Add meat and cook until browned. Set aside.

Add all of your next ingredients to your Crock-Pot, or large pan on stove.

Here add any other vegetables you can puree for your sauce.

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. dried oregano

1 cup beef or vegetable stock

Cover pot and lower heat to medium-low. Simmer for at least 30 minutes or in Crock-Pot cook 6 to 8 hours on low. Prepare your favorite meal and freeze leftover sauce for more dishes.

Send me your favorite sneaky recipes to [email protected].


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