When our son was 6 months old we started solids and did a combination of purees and soft solids. At the time he was a big fan of both fruits and vegetables and meats were the tough nut to crack. Now, as a toddler, we’ve made the typical (and dreaded) switch to loving everything but veggies. For nutrition sake, we’ve taken to hiding the typical toddler veggies in anything possible but even that’s tough. Until we created these amazing, toddler veggie nuggets and answered the age-old question, “how to get kids to eat vegetables?” They are seriously gold.
Toddler Veggies Nugget: How to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables
After asking our pediatrician how to get kids to eat vegetables, and seeing the solidarity and slight pity in her eyes, I did some digging. There HAS to be an easier way than trying to hide them in everything. I was playing around with a variety of recipes and ingredients and over time, came up with the easiest, nutrition friendly, and most loved combination. I change it up periodically for variety sake but the basic recipe and directions for toddler veggie nuggets are the same.
Gather the Typical Veggies Toddlers Will Eat
For us, they typical veggies toddlers will eat are broccoli, carrots, peas, corn, sweet potato, spinach, black beans, avocado, and bell pepper. The great thing about these is you can basically use anything you have on hand that your family likes. It’s a great way to introduce new vegetables that you hope they’ll love in the future.
You’ll also need flax meal, whole natural almonds or almond meal, breadcrumbs, and eggs. Pepper and other seasonings are optional.
Tools You Need to Make Toddler Veggies into Nuggets
You can use a food processor or blender. I prefer to use the largest pitcher attachment for my Ninja System because I can do larger batches at once. You’ll also need a large mixing bowl (mine are vintage found here), mixing spoon (i have this set), measuring cup (I love this one that allows you to do several measurements in one), a shallow dish, and baking sheet. Again, I use a large jelly roll pan so I can do a double batch at one time.
Oh, and an oven, you’ll need an oven to cook them 😉
How to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables: Make Toddler Veggies into Nuggets!
Once you have everything, you’re ready to get started making the nuggets. It’s important to note, I am not a nutritionist. This is just a recipe that works for our family. Please consult a nutritionist for more information on this recipe, these ingredients and for more on how to get kids to eat vegetables.
Prep for Toddler Veggies
First things first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cook any frozen vegetables you are using until they are tender. The amount needed will depend on the size and type of toddler veggies you’re using since some breakdown smaller than others. You’ll need 2 cups of finely chopped veggies for the recipe. I like to do an entire blender full of mixed vegetables and freeze what I don’t need for next time. It saves a lot of prep the next time around.
While the veggies are cooking, and if you have whole ground almonds like I do, grind them into a fine meal. Again, I like to do a larger batch than I’ll need so I have enough for next time. I pour my extras into a small baggie or container and store it in the pantry.
*Factual Tip – If you make extra finely chopped veggies and almond meal this time, you won’t need to whip out the food processor at all next time which saves so much prep and clean up!
Once the frozen veggies are tender, add all chunks of fresh and frozen veggies to the blender or food processor. Do not add any leafy vegetables (like spinach) at this time, we’ll process those separately. Process the vegetables until they are finely chopped. Since we are not adding any liquid, you’ll probably need to stop and stir the mixture in the blender a couple times to get everything evenly chopped.
I made 2 varieties this time, one with just this mix and one with spinach added.
If you are not using any leaf vegetables, add 2 cups of the mixture to the large mixing bowl.
If you are using a leaf vegetable, add 1 1/2 cups of the mixed veggies to a large mixing bowl.
Any leftovers can be frozen for next time.
If you are adding leafy vegetables, process those separately now. I do a full blender of spinach and pulse until finely chopped. This won’t take much time and will process down substantially.
Add a 1/2 cup to the large mixing bowl.
Freeze any leftovers with the rest of your leftover veggie mixture.
Add Ingredients for Healthy Veggie Nuggets
You should already have 2 cups of your toddler veggies chopped and in a large mixing bowl.
Add 3/4 Cup flax meal to toddler veggies mixture. Flax meal is a very healthy and beneficial ingredient. We also add it to things like yogurt, oatmeal, etc. The only thing to note is it is high in fiber and should be used sparingly. We only add it to one meal in a day (and not necessarily every day) so if you’re feeding veggie nuggets that day, don’t add it to anything else.
Add 1/4 Cup of breadcrumbs to the toddler veggies mixture. I prefer to use basic breadcrumbs (whole wheat if possible) but any kind of breadcrumbs will work.
Add 1/3 Cup of almond meal to the toddler veggies mixture
Add 3/4 cup of shredded cheese to toddler veggie mixture. Any cheese will work. I like to switch this up for more variety. This time I used sharp cheddar in one batch and mozzarella in the second batch.
Crack 2 eggs into the mixture. This will help to bind everything together and keep it from crumbling apart.
Add in a bit of black pepper or seasonings if you like. Out son likes spicy foods so we add pepper to everything but I keep these on the bland side just to make sure he likes them.
Mix Up the Ingredients and Form Veggie Nuggets
Once everything is in the bowl, mix the ingredients together until a sticky (but not gloopy) mixture forms. The vegetables you choose will change the consistency slightly. If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more breadcrumbs or almond meal. If it is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water until desired consistency is reached. The mixture should hold together easily and not be crumbly.
Add about 1 cup of additional breadcrumbs to a small dish. Again, any kind will do but I prefer regular ol’ breadcrumbs. This time I ran out and had to use panko. They work fine but the larger crumbs tend to not stick as well.
Form golf ball sized balls of the mixture and flatten slightly. Coat the nuggets in breadcrumbs and place on a large baking sheet. I do not grease the pan and have very minimal sticking.
Bake Veggie Nuggets
Bake the veggie nuggets for about 25-35 minutes until they have firmed up enough to pick them up them. The larger your nuggets, the longer they have to bake. I’ve also found more spinach makes them cook faster and become harder (our little guy still gobbled them up!). You can also turn them after about 20 minutes to more evenly crisp the outside, but it is not necessary.
They will firm up slightly as they cool and will also firm up more when they are reheated.
Allow to cool, and freeze or enjoy!
Toddler Veggie Nuggets – Makes ~ 24 nuggets
- 2 Cups Finely Chopped Veggie Mix
- I use a variety of different fresh and frozen vegetables each time, including broccoli, carrots, peas, corn, sweet potato, spinach, black beans, avocado, green pepper, onion
- 3/4 Cup Flax Meal
- 1/3 Cup Almond Meal (ground whole natural almonds)
- 1/4 Cup Breadcrumbs (plus breadcrumbs to coat)
- 3/4 Cup Shredded Cheese
- 2 Eggs
- 1 tsp Pepper (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook all frozen vegetables until tender so they are easier to chop.
- Using a blender or food processor, grind whole natural almonds into a fine meal.
- Add vegetable chunks to blender and process until finely chopped. Set Aside.
- Fill blender with spinach and pulse until finely chopped. Add to Veggie Mixture.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine ingredients until a sticky (but not gloopy) mixture forms. The vegetables you choose will change the consistency slightly. If the mixture is too wet, add breadcrumbs or almond meal. If it is too dry add 1 tablespoon of water until desired consistency is reached. The mixture should hold together easily and not be crumbly.
- Add additional breadcrumbs to a small dish. Form golf ball sized balls of the mixture and flatten slightly. Coat the nuggets in breadcrumbs and place on a large baking sheet. I do not grease the pan and have very minimal sticking.
- Bake veggie nuggets for ~30-35 minutes until they have firmed up enough to handle them. They will still be soft but will firm up as they cool and will also firm up more when they are reheated. You can also turn them after 20 minutes to more evenly crisp the outside but it is not necessary.
- Allow to cool, and freeze or enjoy!
This recipe can easily be halved or doubled with the same results.
How to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables
These Veggie Nuggets are the perfect answer to the age-old question, “How to get kids to eat vegetables” and once the prep is done, they are a snap to whip together. Out toddler eats 2-3 with dinner almost every day. I almost always make a double batch plus extra chopped veggies and almond meal for next time.
I’ve even done a southwest version with the base veggies (broccoli, carrots, peas, corn) plus avocado, black beans, and green peppers.
He’s never turned down a veggie nugget and he doesn’t even use a dipping sauce with them! Even I can’t do that! They’re a little TOO healthy tasting for me. Bring on the ranch, haha! BUT these aren’t for me, they’re for the kiddo and right now it’s the only answer for how to get kids to eat vegetables. Hey, whatever works, right?!
How did your healthy veggie nuggets work out? What combination of toddler veggies did you use?
Share your tips on how to get kids to eat vegetables in the comments below!
Until next time,