This kid friendly veggie spaghetti sauce is loaded with brilliant color, amazing taste, and is super fun to eat piled on top of your favorite noodles or veggie noodles!
“How do you get your kids to eat their veggies?”
I get that inbox question weekly, and some of my staple responses are…
Make it taste good!
Make it fun!
Make it familiar!
Before I expand on those responses, let me back up a minute and talk about the babies and toddlers.
If you fall in the category of having a baby between the ages of 6 months to 2 years old let me fill you in a little secret…baby taste palates are a blank slate! You absolutely can train those young palates to enjoy vegetables of every kind by introducing them before they hit those “NO” and testing 3 and 4 year old ages.
Make it fun and relaxed. Let them take bites off your plate. Don’t force it and keep it positive even if they don’t accept it right away. First foods is one of my very favorite things – enjoy introducing those fun veggies! (For more in depth first foods and feeding babies discussion, keep your eyes peeled this fall for my new book publishing titled Nourished Beginnings!)
Ok, so let’s talk about making vegetables enjoyable for big kids that are maybe newer to real food.
Taking an old staple that most kids love and enjoy like spaghetti and giving it a veggie make-over will be less intimidating then tossing a plate of new foreign vegetables in front of them. Keep it fun and tasting amazing. This veggie spaghetti sauce is rich, and sweet, and tomato-y just like kids like it. Kids also love noodles! Anything with noodles! And I say if it gets them eating a pile of mineral rich, power packed vegetables, a scoop of noodles it is then.
If you have a little one that is funny about texture or seeing “pieces” in their food, simply puree the sauce through and it will feel a lot like jarred spaghetti sauce – you can add a splash of bone broth or water and just blend it up. Sometimes all you need to do to mold a more adventurous eater in those big kids is give their bodies some time to adjust off the junk food. Their cravings will change, and their body will function better if you can just do what you gotta do to get their fuel more nourishing.
We love using gluten free rice noodles in our house. Using spaghetti squash or veggie “noodles” such as zucchini or sweet potato noodles works so well too if you can’t tolerate grains, or if you have a baby in the house that can’t have grains yet. Our spirilizer for making veggie noodles was such a great investment for our kitchen.
We like to add grassfed beef or meatballs to our spaghetti too. Use your favorite meatball recipe – one of my favorites are these kale stuffed meatballs. Our staple spaghetti meatballs will be published in my Nourished Beginnings book publishing this fall!
Oh! And don’t forget the leftovers!
My kids LOVE spaghetti for lunch, and this packs up so well in a thermos for school. I like to add a splash of water while warming it up when using leftover noodles just to soften everything up. There are more instructions on how to keep food warm in thermoses for school in this post in the thermos section.
- 2 TB olive oil
- 2 TB butter
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, large dice
- 1 yellow pepper, large dice
- 1 medium eggplant, large dice (sliced mushrooms work here if eggplant isn't in season/available)
- 1 medium zucchini, large dice
- 1 medium summer squash, large dice
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2-3 cups chopped baby spinach (baby kale works too)
- 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 4 TB organic tomato paste
- ⅓ cup bone broth (or water)
- ⅓ cup white wine (or more bone broth or water)
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh basil to garnish the top, sliced in a chiffonade (roll the leaves up and slice thin)
- Warm a large skillet to medium heat and melt the butter and olive oil.
- Add the onion, red and yellow peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and summer squash with a large pinch of sea salt, combine, and cook over medium/medium high heat stirring occasionally for about 7-10 minutes until the veggies soften and sweeten.
- Add the garlic, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, and tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook over medium/medium high heat about 5 minutes until the tomatoes soften and wilt and the spinach wilts.
- Pour in the bone broth and wine, and bring to a simmer about 5 minutes over medium heat until the liquid reduces a bit and everything softens.
- Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper to your taste and serve over noodles of choice, or serve over veggie noodles like spaghetti squash, zoodles, or sweet potato noodles. Garnish with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese if you wish.
Here are some more kid friendly vegetable ideas to try!
- 3 Kid Friendly Veggie Stir Frys
- Fresh Tomato Soup
- Parmesan Roasted Zucchini Spears
- Creamy Broccoli Soup
- 15 Minute Ginger Chicken Stir Fry
- Instant Pot Summer Vegetable Soup