Vegetables by stealth

Our Cookery Editor Renee Davis give us three great recipes for sneaking some healthy stuff into reluctant veg eaters' meals


Three ways of getting more good stuff into your little ones 

8-a-day mac & cheese

Before we discovered our daughter's dairy intolerance, she loved mac & cheese. As there isn't much goodness in the basics I used to add loads of veg - the secret is to chop it up real small so the kiddies can't pick it out. Here's my fail safe recipe, but it can be easily adapted to suit the seasons and what's in your fridge. 

This makes about 8 kids portions and freezes really well. I find that it makes my life much easier if I batch cook and always have food good to go. Check out Sutton Community Farm and our local Greengrocers for seasonal veg. 


200g wholemeal penne pasta

1 pint of whole milk

200g mature cheddar cheese (grated)

45g plain flour

45g butter

Tsp english mustard

Tsp olive oil 

Small red onion (finely chopped)

6 mushrooms (finely chopped)

Lge carrot (peeled & grated)

Lge courgette (peeled & grated)

12 green beans (cut small)

Handful of broccoli (finely chopped)

Tin of garden peas or petit pois

Tin of sweetcorn

Tsp mixed dried herbs (optional) 


- cook the pasta as per packet instructions, drain and leave to cool

- meanwhile in a non stick pan, gently fry the onion and mushrooms in the olive oil and add the herbs if you are doing so 

- once the onions are soft add the rest of the non tinned veg and cook on a med-low heat with the lid on for 5-10 mins, until everything is cooked through

- in a separate pan over a med heat melt the butter, then add the flour and stir into a ball 

- gradually add the milk, stirring continuously with a whisk to ensure there aren't any lumps as it thickens up

- add the mustard once the sauce is ready and set aside 

- once the pasta has cooled chop it up into small pieces and put into a large bowl

- stir in the tinned veg, then pour the contents of the veg pan over the pasta and mix well 

- pour the sauce over the top and mix again, then add the cheese and mix one last time before serving 

**You could also put the whole lot into an oven proof dish and top with breadcrumbs, garlic butter and more cheese, then cook in a hot oven for about 20 mins for a delicious grown up version. 

Green Risotto

Both my toddler and baby love this risotto. Being bright green it's quite fun and I manage to sneak a ton of veg in without them knowing! Don't be afraid to add butter when cooking for your little ones, it will make all the difference to the flavour and it's a great source of fat for them. This recipe will make about 8 portions and you can freeze it too. 


100g risotto rice

500ml stock 

2 tbsp white wine vinegar 

2 large knobs of butter (olive oil would also work if you want to avoid animal products)

Med sized red onion (diced) 

100g mushrooms (quartered) 

100g broccoli (chopped into small florets)

100g kale (sliced quite small) 


- melt a knob of butter over a med heat and fry the onions until soft

- add the mushrooms and cook with the lid on the pan for a few mins until they start producing liquid 

- add the broccoli and kale, and continue to cook on a low heat with the lid on until cooked through 

- meanwhile in a separate pan, melt the other knob of butter over a med high heat and add the rice. Give it a good stir to ensure every grain is coated

- add the vinegar and stir well to ensure the rice does not burn

- gradually add the stock 100ml at a time, stirring continuously 

- after adding the last bit of stock, blend the contents of the veg pan to a smooth paste

- add to the rice, stir well and cook with the lid on over a low heat for 10-15 mins until the rice is cooked

- my three year old likes her risotto sprinkled with finely diced chorizo and fresh tomato, but you can top with cheese or whatever you know your kids will love 

Quick & easy chicken casserole

I always use chicken thighs in my casseroles as they have much more flavour than the breast and are very succulent. They're readily available to buy without skin or bones these days, so are just as easy to cook with too. This recipe is enough for my two girlies, but can be doubled or quadrupled and frozen for later. 


2 chicken thighs (cubed)

knob of butter

1/4 of a leek (finely chopped)

Small clove of garlic (crushed) 

1/2 a sweet potato (finely diced) 

handful of broccoli (finely chopped) 

6 mushrooms (finely chopped) 

50ml stock


- melt the butter over a med heat, and gently fry the mushrooms, leek and garlic for a couple of mins until soft

- add the rest of the ingredients and give everything a good stir

- bring to the boil, then turn the heat down low  

- simmer with the lid on the pan for 10-15 mins until everything is cooked through. Serve once cool enough  

Renee Davis, Cookery Editor

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Reneé Davis is a Sutton Mum, a full time wife and mum of two young girls, part time City PA and self-proclaimed food fanatic. She became really interested in cooking after her first trip to Asia ten years ago, and the passion has grown daily since then. She takes every opportunity she can get to experiment in the kitchen, and loves cooking for family and friends. She also loves sharing her recipes with us!

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