You may only enter this post if all children under the age of ten aren’t in visual range of your computer screen. You must answer TWO secret questions to pass the mom test and prove that you are not, indeed, a small child. The questions follow:
How many days has it been since you have showered?
How many goldfish and/or other cracker crumbs are in the back seat of your car currently?
If your answer to question one is at least *two days* and your answer to question two is at least *five metric crap loads,* then you may enter.
Hello fellow mothers. Welcome to the ultimate sneak attack on your children to get them to eat all kinds of crazy veggies that they would normally never let enter their small, adorable mouths. The vegetables that would end up surrounding the floor of your high chair like a decorative wreath instead of being in said adorable children’s bellies.
Here’s the delio, people. Getting your kids to eat veggies is not the easiest task. When they are babies, it can be a problem with texture and potentially flavor as well. When they are toddlers, it can be an issue with flavor and just general pickiness: “that’s gross – what is it – no way I’m eating that – I want mac and cheese.”
I consider my one year old to be a decently good eater. He falls somewhere in between *won’t eat anything that isn’t a typical little kid food – i.e. chicken nuggets and goldfish* and *will literally eat anything you put on his high chair no matter what it is*. He’s in the middle of that spectrum. He will eat a decent amount of stuff, but if you just throw some cooked veggies onto his high chair, it’s prooooobs not gunna happen for ya.
Fruit is his love and passion in life – he will eat fruit until his little belly sticks out like a pregnant lady. He also loves carbs, even the whole wheat stuff. Protein pancakes, whole wheat crackers, whole wheat pasta, PB & J on whole wheat bread – we’re good with all that. Veggies is where things can get sketchy. He loves pureed veggies, like the packs that you can buy at the grocery store, but we want him physically eating veggies, too, which has been a slight challenge for us.
However, this kid freakin’ LOVES marinara sauce. If he could take a bath in marinara sauce, he’d do it in a second and crawl at max speed towards the tub. He literally shoves fist fulls of pasta with marinara in his tiny little gullet so fast, it’s alarming, and I have to watch closely because I’m 99% sure some choking is about to go down.
So, we hatched a theory. If we cover other things in marinara sauce, will he eat them? What about green beans? What about cauliflower? More tests are needed.
We got our typical marinara from the store that has all the good ingredients and none of the added sugar + other unnecessary extras, loaded up some green beans with them, and this kid went. to. TOWN.
The next night we tried it with cauliflower. Went to town again. So – we have found a fun little trick – in order to get him to be pumped about eating veggies and shoving little chubby fist fulls in his mouth like it’s his last meal: marinara sauce.
Theory number two was then hatched: what if we make homemade marinara and add a ton of veggies into it to aid in even further veggie consumption. Will he be able to tell the difference? So I created this recipe, threw it on some veggies, and…I’ll just let these pictures explain the result themselves.
*Warning – feeding your babies this marinara sauce will result in what we lovingly refer to as “a baby meatball.”*
If you can’t tell, those are green beans that are smothered in the veggie marinara sauce (only visible in the top left picture because they were soon demolished with ferocity).
Before we go into details about the super secret ingredients in this sauce, another mom confirmation question is required to move on further:
How many days a week can we find your hair pulled up into a messy bun?
If your answer was *13 days of the week,* you may read onward.
In this ONE batch of sauce, which makes about 8 cups, which will last you FOREVER with small children and babies, you will find the following vegetables:
- 2 small beets
- 1 bulb fennel
- 2 carrots
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 zucchini
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
Other than that, there is tomato paste, canned tomatoes, olive oil, and Italian seasoning in this sauce. Tomato paste and canned tomatoes should have nothing else in them other than *tomatoes* so you are looking at a pot full of straight up pureed veggies that actually tastes bomb.
Here’s the other thing – you can customize this so, so, so much based on what you like and what you have. Do the beets sketch you out? Skip them. You hate fennel with a burning passion? Leave it out. However, I will say, you really can’t taste much of anything in here that will make you question that it is a marinara sauce. The beet flavor comes through a liiiiittttllleee bit, but barely – definitely not enough to weird my kiddo out (I really don’t like beets, and I like this sauce). I mainly put the beet in there to deepen the red color that may have been otherwise muddled a little bit with all the other veggie additions. TRICKERY. We are the sneakiest.
In conclusion…make this sauce, sneak a bunch of veggies into your kids, and cackle secretly in the corner as they eat it, not knowing they are actually loading their tiny bodies up with all kinds of nutrients. Good job, mom! You get a sticker today.Print
Hidden Veggie Marinara (great for kids!)
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 8 cups of sauce 1x
- 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 2 small beets or 1 large beet, peeled and diced into small cubes
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 1 bulb fennel, fronds cut off, core removed, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- In a large pot, add some olive oil over medium high heat
- When hot, add all your veggies and season with salt and pepper
- Let this cook down for about ten minutes, stirring often, until the veggies have started to soften and come together
- To this, add your tomato paste and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine and let cook for another 30 seconds to a minute, stirring often
- Lower your heat, add your canned tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer on low heat for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies (specifically the beets) are tender when pierced with a fork or knife
- Turn the heat off and, using an immersion blender (or stick blender), puree the sauce until it is totally and completely smooth
- Add your 1/4 cup of olive oil and blend again, until the olive oil is emulsified and the sauce is thick and smooth
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, and you’re done!
If you can’t find “Italian seasoning” at your grocery store in the spice aisle (or if you don’t want to buy it), it’s just basically a mix of basil, rosemary, thyme, and oregano, so you can just mix those together at home and use 2 teaspoons of the mix!
If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can puree this with a regular blender in batches. Just add some of the 1/4 cup of olive oil to each batch as you blend it so it’s emulsified throughout the whole sauce.
I portion this into several tupperwares, put one in the fridge, and put the rest in the freezer. When my fridge sauce is running low, I’ll pop a tupperware out of the freezer and let it thaw!
- Serving Size: 1/2 cup
- Calories: 76
- Sugar: 2 g
- Sodium: 147 mg
- Fat: 4 g
- Carbohydrates: 10 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 2 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
If you make this or any of my other recipes, be sure to Instagram it and hashtag #thegarlicdiaries!
In the mood for more yummy sauce recipes? Check these out: