Disguise Vegetables in Fruity Popsicles

Joy’s popsicle post provided me with a burst of inspiration: Could I sneak vegetables into my daughter’s diet by disguising them in a tasty frozen treat?  The answer is yes.  Here’s my groundbreaking recipe:

Strawberry Spinach Popsicles

Pint of very ripe strawberries (overripe is okay)
2-3 cups of carefully washed spinach leaves
1 TBS honey (or more, to taste)

Place the strawberries in the blender and fill the remainder of the blender with spinach leaves.  Add honey and puree until smooth.  Pour into popsicle molds.  (Yields 2 cups liquid)

I invented this recipe and gave the strange-looking brown popsicle to my daughter.  She took one lick and said, “Yum, yum!”  Then she ate the whole thing, making quite a mess in the process.  Of course I sampled this brown concoction myself.  It really does not taste of spinach at all-it’s just pleasantly strawberry-flavored. 

Now, I know that disguising vegetables in other foods is controversial.  When Jessica Seinfeld’s book Deceptively Delicious came out, I read reviews from critics who claimed that lying to children about what they were eating would result in bitterness and mistrust in their parents as they grew older and wiser.  This seems a little far-fetched to me.  Besides, I did not lie to Audrey; I just handed her a popsicle and she ate it.  I hope she grows to love normally-prepared vegetables very soon, but in the meantime, I’m glad I found a way to sneak some greens into her summer confections.












This week’s Works for Me Wednesday is all about easy recipes that use five ingredients or less, so head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for more simple cooking ideas.


  1. Omigosh, this is brilliant. I am so trying this for my daughter. I wonder if it’ll work on my husband too. And me! I like spinach, but not as much as I love popsicles.

  2. I do something similar, but with smoothies. I try to use 40% raw greens (usually spinach) to 60% fruit. My favorite recipe is:

    1 handful blueberries
    1 handful blackberries
    1 banana
    3 cups spinach (approximately – I don’t measure)
    1 celery stalk

    The smoothie is so sweet and both my kids will drink it. I have pictures of it on my blog if you’re interested.

    I will have to try the popsicles too – never even thought of that!

  3. Very clever. I don’t think it’s deceptive at all. My kids don’t necessarily ask for all the ingredients in a dish before trying it. “Here, eat this yummy casserole. I call it refrigerator surprise!” They would totally eat a dark popsicle and not even question what it was. I can’t wait to try it!

  4. Fabulous idea! I’ll have to try that one day.

  5. Sneaky, very sneaky….and sounds delicious! 🙂

  6. Thanks for all the comments, everyone! Amy, I will have to give that smoothie recipe a try. I did want one that added a banana or two, just to give it more carbs and calories. I will probably turn your smoothie into popsicles, though–my daughter does not like to drink smoothies for some reason! That is why I was glad she fell for the ole “veggie pop” trick.

    I hope everyone reports back with the results of the great popsicle experiments!

  7. I really love this idea! And about disguising the veggies; I think it’s a bad practice if you are giving up trying to get your kids to eat them. But doing something like this while still making veggies in their real form for dinner I don’t see as being a problem. I know my son will avoid them for weeks at time, then eat them as if he’d never rejected them. I don’t want him forgetting veggies exist by hiding them, but I also want him to eat them any way I can when he’s refusing them. So, pull out the spinach popsicles!

  8. When I was pregnant, I was trying to find ways to get more greens into our diet, and I came across the idea of a green smoothie. My husband and I have been drinking them every day for the last six months. I put whatever I have into the food processor and mix it up, making sure that there’s at least 3 or 4 cups of greens involved. I add bananas, blueberries, cucumber, celery, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, green beans – doesn’t matter, as long as I have 6 or 7 ingredients. We eat veggies with every meal, but by starting the day with a green smoothie, it’s sort of an insurance policy that we’re getting our veggies. Once our son is eating solid food, I’m planning to freeze green smoothies in ice cube trays and give them to him in one of those mesh feeder bags. I love the popsicle idea for when he’s older!

  9. What a great idea!

    It does seem very controversion. In one of my mommy magazines (Parenting? Baby Talk? I don’t remember!) there was an article recently about sneaking veggies into foods, and many people wrote in FURIOUS about it. Personally, I think as long as you don’t LIE to them, it’s not a big deal. If she asks you, “What’s in this?” don’t lie, but you don’t have to go out of your way to tell her exactly what it is made of. I mean, honestly, how often do you tell your kid every single item that is in the meal you are serving them?

  10. I love it!
    Thanks for posting this, my friend and I were talking about this yesterday.

    She had a cool suggestion for all the gardeners out there:
    She dries her leafy greens to make her own “greens powder”, then she sprinkles it on the bottom layer of sandwiches and pizza’s, right before she layers on the tomato sauce or what have you…

    It’s been soooo hot lately and my daughter just is not eating anything but fruit. This is a perfect solution and it keeps me especially happy. Nutrition is my biggest constant consideration 🙂

  11. Allison, that’s funny about the angry letters to the parenting magazine about sneaking vegetables into kids’ diets. Do you remember any of the arguments? I guess I don’t see the problem in preparing vegetables in creative ways. It seems like several of you (like Frugal Babe and Monica’s friend) are doing it to your OWN food–so why not for the kids?

  12. I put spinach in our popsicles (and smoothies!) also. If you use light colored fruit (bananas, grapes, apples, pineapple, canteloupe, etc) it will stay a nice green color. We call them monster smoothies and monster popsicles!

  13. Great idea. If it works, then I say go for it. I don’t think it’s deceptive at all. I think it’s more important that they are getting the nutrients they need and they like it.

  14. I do not understand the controversy about adding healthy ingredients to foods your kids love. What can be wrong about that???? I agree, you don’t need to lie to your kids, but you also don’t need to make a big deal out of it. When they realize they are eating spinach and what they are eating is yummy, they realize that spinach can be yummy and doesn’t have to be yucky. The idea that we all must train our palettes to like bland and bitter foods seems a bit archaic. How about teaching our kids that vegetables are yummy and eating healthy is fun! I don’t think that kids are developmentally able to try and eat things they dislike until maybe 7 or 8 (anecdotal based on observations of my own kids – more than a bite of something that tastes bad was impossible before age 7). Up until then, you will be force-feeding them. But the need for certain nutrients during the critical years from 0-5 will impact the rest of their lives. Get those nutrients in them any way you can and worry about getting them to eat the “yucky” stuff when they are old enough to understand reason. If you make food an issue, your kids will have food issues.

  15. I love it! Ahh, the critics and stuff it! We are moms doing our best and if a monster treat gets some healthy veggies in our kids…so be it! Yeah, moms! I do this with smoothies all the time and sauces. Good for you. It looks and sounds yummy.

  16. Greenstylemom, I love the idea of “monster” smoothies and popsicles. I think a bright green popsicle might be preferable to the brown-sludge color of the strawberry-spinach kind, at least for me. Audrey doesn’t seem to care.

    Tina, Eileen, and G&C Mom, I agree that it’s just great to be able to sneak in some nutrients. As Eileen said, it’s not deceptive so much as showing kids that spinach (or other rejected foods) can be delicious in a different context. There is really no other way I could get my daughter to eat vegetables. She ate anything until about 15 months, and then she just wouldn’t. There is no reasoning with a 15-month-old (at least mine), so I couldn’t even say something like, “Just try it!”

  17. Hi,
    On the topic of popsicles, I have finally found a stainless steel popsicle mold. The company says they will be available in march. I can’t wait to make ‘monster’ popsicles in my new mold! Check them out.

  18. I believe it’s only lying if you actually lie to them. If they don’t ask what’s in it, how is that lying?

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