How I Get My Kid to Ingest Zucchini and Other Tricks

Wow. Things are getting pretty stressful here at Chez Kutcher. We've had a few days of our plumber no-showing to a job that was supposed to be done last Wednesday, unforeseen expenses that are really pushing our limits (and buttons), and an all-around "GET ME OUTTA HERE" cabin fever feeling, even though we spent a lovely weekend at my family's home in PA.

Let's talk about something exciting and stress-free, like feeding toddlers. That's not stressful at all. Ha.

Jacob is a really good eater; He's generally not picky, he likes lots of flavor and he has a man-sized appetite. On occasion he refuses one food or another for reasons I will never know. I do my best to feed him home-made, well-planned meals that incorporate a wide range of colors and flavors. Jacob usually accepts and enjoys what he's served and if not, he clearly lets me know it by hurling it across the room. Thank God for the dog.

There are a few items, however, that I've been unsuccessful in getting him to eat. Zucchini and summer squash are currently on top of my "How can I get this in my son's stomach" list. I mean, we're talking about the staple CSA summer crop, here! I have ample supply and it's only fair that the whole family pitches in to consume it. Jacob turns his nose up at grilled zucchini, baked zucchini coated with panko, sauteed zucchini with butter and salt, etc. I have, however, found a way into that little tummy: Pancakes and Mac and Cheese!! Grown-up food disguised as kid food! Huzzah! I am victorious!

Raspberry-Zucchini Pancakes
This recipe is an adaption of a pancake recipe from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. In preparation for our kitchen remodel, I made multiple batches of these pancakes and froze them to be toasted and enjoyed at a later date.

You'll need:
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c. yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon honey*
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
  • a few handfuls of raspberries**

Heat up your griddle or a large fry pan and make sure you have a little butter or non-stick item of your choice handy to add to the griddle or pan before you add the pancake batter.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg, yogurt, butter and honey until just blended. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt, then add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just blended. Add the zucchini and berries and gently combine.

Do I have to explain how to cook the pancake? I'm thinking no. Go make yourself some breakfast, already!

*It's not recommended that you give your child honey prior to 12 months of age, so try molasses or just skip it.

**Blueberries, peaches, strawberries or bananas would also be yummy.

Veggie Mac and Cheese
I make this mac and cheese with whatever bits of cheese I have in the fridge; Sometimes it comes out "serve to guests" amazing and sometimes it comes out just plain good. Explore different cheese combinations to find one that is perfect for you.

You'll Need:
  • 1/2 lb short pasta (like rigatoni, ziti, fusilli, elbows) cooked to al-dente, drained, and rinsed with cold water
  • 1/2 medium-sized zucchini, washed and shredded
  • 3 carrots, washed and shredded (leave on the skins to keep in the extra nutrients)
  • 1 small scallion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup shredded or cubed cheese, such as cheddar, muenster, american, colby
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons Ricotta
  • 2 teaspoons parmigianno regianno (or some sort of grated cheese with a little bite)
  • a little pinch of some chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary or basil

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the milk and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Add in the shredded cheeses and stir until they're melted. Toss in the herbs, and then the flour, which aids as a thickener. Take the saucepan off of the heat, add in the pasta and veggies and toss to combine. Stir in the ricotta and grated cheese. Let sit to cool and for the flavors to meld.

And, as a bonus:

Pureed Spinach and Peas (YUM!)

You'll Need:
  • Frozen spinach
  • Frozen peas
  • Water
  • A few leaves of Basil or Mint, or a bit of dill, optional

I have no measurements for this because it's usually a last-minute thing I make and basically I just dump some of each into a small saucepan with a few tablespoons of water. I try for a spinach to pea ratio of about 2:1. Cover the saucepan and stick it on the stove over low heat for about 10 minutes until the veggies are warm. Puree in a food processor or whatever you use to blend your baby food. If you're feeling adventurous, go ahead and add a dash of herbs.

If you're looking for a way to get dark greens into the tummy of a little one, the above recipe has been working for us since Jacob started eating solids. We started feeding it to him along with other pureed baby foods and he still loves it right off a spoon. I've also found it's a perfect "spread" on turkey and cheese sandwiches (think of it as the lettuce and tomato of his sandwich) and as a kind of pesto mixed with ricotta in pasta. In fact, make some of this and toss it in the above mac and cheese recipe to amp up the veggies.


  1. Hi Nicole,
    I was referred to your website from your husband on Twitter and I love the idea of hiding veggies in dishes. My son is such a picky eater that I'm always looking for yummy meals that he'll enjoy and incorporate veggies. We are currently hosting a recipe exchange on our blog, If ever in the future you'd like to write a guest recipe, we would be honored to feature you!
    Best wishes,

  2. Marissa-
    So happy you have found the site! I would most definitely be interested in a "guest appearance". -Nicole

  3. This idea of mixing vegetables into things to make kids eat them (or my boyfriend) is genius. Reminds me of Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook "Deceptively Delicious." She focuses on using purees inside things, but the spin you put on this idea. Granted I then got a Magic Bullet to use to make purees, but never got around to using it for that and now it's just a "Margarita" Bullet, haha.
    Thanks for the tips, can't wait to try some of these :)

  4. These are delicious! Fed them to my kids and one of the kids' friends. My baby ate 3! I had to use peach fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt because that's what I had, and I added a little cinnamon. But they were a big success.

    My tops and bottoms browned nicely, and the pancakes felt nice and firm, but they were still a kind of mushy consistency throughout. Should they have just cooked longer, or is there another secret? I've never had issues with pancakes before, but I admit I usually make the boxed kind.



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