Let’s face it: The majority of American adults aren’t eating enough fruits or vegetables. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only about 9 percent of Americans are currently meeting the government’s standard for vegetable consumption. (Yikes.) For adults, this means eating only about two to three cups of veggies per day, depending on your weight and level of activity.
And don’t even get us started on kids. “Small kids should have close to two full cups of vegetables each day,” Dr. Lisa Young PhD, RDN tells us. And according to MyPlate, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture, a serving of veggies can be anything from a cup of chopped broccoli or two cups of raw spinach, to a large, red bell pepper or two foot-long stalks of celery. But, um, what do you do if your kid will barely eat a bowl of sugary cereal for breakfast, let alone a piece of avocado toast? We've got a plan for that.
1. Don't Be a Trickster
Our goal here is easier said than done: coming up with fun, creative and delicious ways to make eating veggies not feel like a chore for your kids. But “tricking” them into eating things they flat-out don’t like is probably not the best course of action to take.
“I don’t know that you want to be ‘sneaking’ vegetables into your kids’ meals,” Dr. Young said. “If they don’t like kale, maybe don’t cook with it and try another option, like spinach. I don’t see the point in lying to them. Kids like color, so to get them to try new veggies, trying new colors is a good option to test out what they might like.”
2. Work with What You've Got
Instead of tiptoeing around the issue, introduce new veggies to things your kids already enjoy, like scrambled eggs or a big omelet, suggests Dr. Young.
“If you have to sneak,” she said, “maybe while you’re making eggs you throw in some veggies like mushrooms or bell peppers and don’t say anything. Don’t be sneaky, just do it, and don’t draw attention to it. Do it as a matter of fact and eat that way yourself, too. Your kids want to be just like you. Leading by example is very important.”
3. Start Early
Part of taking the trickery out of adding vegetables to your kids’ meals is giving them the opportunity to like healthy foods on their own.
“Exposing them to vegetables right up front helps to develop better habits in kids and gets them to like vegetables early on,” according to Dr. Young. Making vegetables part of your all day, every meal—including at breakfast—routine from a young age will take the anxiety off everyone’s plate.
4. Prep in Advance
Our pro recommends gathering all of the vegetables you plan on tossing into your morning quiches, smoothies and hashes and chopping them up ahead of time to make it even easier on yourself. “Part of the trick is making sure that you have them on hand,” she says. “If what you want to eat more of is already cut up and ready to go, it turns a potentially frantic morning into a much more manageable meal. No one wants to start all that prep in the morning. Try using veggies that are already smaller and ready to go—things like cherry tomatoes are easy.”
5. What Vegetables?
If your household likes to draw attention to what you’re eating and mom’s little helpers enjoy getting involved, another way to incorporate veggies is to turn them into something new.
“Maybe the focus is the form of the food,” Dr. Young says. “Now we can spiralize veggies to get kids to eat zucchini, or you can do almost anything with cauliflower.” You could rice it, make cauliflower tots or use it as a breakfast pizza dough. (But more about that below.)
6. Be a Little Sweeter
If you’ve got a little sweet tooth in your home, Dr. Young suggests tossing fresh herbs into smoothies in the morning for a quick option or adding sweet potato and an apple to slow-cooked oatmeal.
“When I make a smoothie with blueberries, I throw in parsley and kale,” she says. “I add pumpkin and sweet potatoes to an apple- or blueberry-based oatmeal before I cook it to change the consistency. It comes out tasting more like pie than breakfast.” Yum, that’s a breakfast we can get on board with, too.
OK, let’s get to the good part—the food. Here, 19 veggie-packed breakfast ideas for kids below.
1. Eggs Baked in Tomatoes
Instead of whipping up these pantry staple ingredients into yet another omelet, let the tomato sing as the vessel for this super-simple breakfast.
2. Mini Cauliflower-Crust Breakfast Pizzas with Spicy Garlic Honey
No kid in history has ever said no to a personal pan pizza. This one is topped with an egg, because you’re fancy like that.
3. Baked Eggs & Potatoes
If you find yourself “stuck” with leftover mashed potatoes, you’re in luck. We’ve got an eggcellent suggestion. (Sorry).
4. Green Smoothie with Avocado and Apple
An ode to obvious health, this green smoothie’s virtuous ingredients are listed right in its name but don’t stop there—we’ve added a banana, chia seeds and spinach, too.
5. Green Shakshuka
This Mediterranean gem is packed with onion, garlic, jalapeño, an entire pound of spinach, parsley, cilantro and veggie broth, too.
6. Cherry Tomato Galette with Garlic and Herbs
Yes, it’s a flaky crust smothered in sweet and tangy tomatoes but, no, it’s not another pizza masquerading as breakfast. Whip up some eggs and call it a healthy start to the day.
7. Joanna Gaines's Asparagus and Fontina Quiche
Five simple words: an entire pound of asparagus. Oh, and the recipe calls for a store-bought crust. Easy peasy.
8. Cauliflower 'Tater' Tots
Try and find us a kid who would turn down tots for breakfast. Don't worry, we'll wait.
9. Chilaquiles with Poached Eggs and Spicy Honey
For all of our carnivores, there’s a little meat in this eggy, vegetable salsa-smothered breakfast. A one-pan dream to wake up to.
10. Freezer Breakfast Burritos
The beauty of these breakfast burritos is that they’re ready to go straight from the freezer to microwave to table and can be customized to suit your family’s preferences. Love beans, mushrooms and tomatoes but hate peppers? No problem.
11. Kale Quiche with a Cheddar-Rice Crust
Quiche might sound fancy, but it’s really just a bunch of eggs and vegetables baked to perfection in 30 minutes.
12. Slow-Cooker Mediterranean Frittata
What’s better than a beautiful, veggie-stuffed breakfast with arugula, roasted red peppers, red onion and goat cheese? One that basically cooks itself in the slow-cooker.
13. Yotam Ottolenghi's Braised Eggs with Leek and Za'atar
Stuck with only 20 minutes to feed your hungry family? Have an affinity for fancy food from renowned chefs? Look no further than this saucy leeks and eggs dish.
14. Gwyneth Paltrow's Blueberry Cauliflower Smoothie
This smoothie is for those days when you need your breakfast to take care of not only your body, but your ego, too.
15. Quiche with Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Crust
Not only is it gluten-free, but this breakfast for a crowd is loaded with sweet potatoes, leeks and kale. Best of all, it’s hearty—and impressive—enough to even serve at dinner.
16. Carrot Cake Coffee Cake
Hear us out. We realize the entire point is to get your kids to eat breakfasts packed with vegetables. But this cake is actually packed with vegetables. With two hefty carrots and less than a cup of sugar, we’d officially call it healthy.
17. Ultimate Spring Brunch Board
Can’t decide what to make? This healthy and colorful arrangement of store-bought goodies is quick, simple and dynamic for guests and extra special for your family on a weekend. The kids can pick and choose which veggies they’d like to sample.
18. Amazing Mexican Breakfast Casserole
Make-ahead-friendly and complete with onions, peppers, corn and beans, this breakfast casserole will make you Queen of the Kitchen.
19. Mini Potato and Carrot Quiche Cups
This breakfast dish from Ali Maffucci fits perfectly in your little one’s hands, and it’s jam-packed with carrots and potatoes.