Recipe: Sneaky Spaghetti – Vegetables Kids Will Love by Dr. Marta Katalenas

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Countless times my patients ask questions about picky children who refuse to eat vegetables. In a number of occasions families ask questions about the appropriate multivitamins to give to kids who eat limited amounts of fruits and vegetables.

Multivitamin supplements are often necessary when a child is sick and unable to eat but, in general, we should encourage the consumption of good food containing all the nutrients children – and adults – need to maintain health.

Children often refuse foods because they don’t like the look, smell, or texture. Frequently they just want to challenge the rules.

Parents have some opportunities to get around those moments without anguish. Since most children like spaghetti, lets prepare a spaghetti sauce with all the hidden ingredients they don’t like but need.

Ingredients for a Spaghetti Sauce Picky Eaters Will Love:

* 4 large, fresh tomatoes or 1 can of tomato puree

* ½ onion

* 1 leek

* 1 small carrot

* 2 garlic cloves

* Fresh parsley

* Oregano

* Basil

* Olive oil

* Salt and pepper

* Pinch of sugar (optional)


spaghetti sauce

In a saucepan, heat up 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Cut the onion, garlic, leek, fresh parsley and carrot in small pieces and cook it in the oil for about 5 minutes.

Add the tomato puree or the fresh tomatoes (peeled and cut). Cook in low heat for about 30 minutes. Separate from the heat and mix, using a hand blender, until all he ingredients are forming a sauce of uniform consistency. Add the dried oregano and basil, salt and pepper and cook for additional 10 minutes. You can also add a pinch of sugar is desired.

spaghetti sauce

Now we only have to cook our favorite pasta, add some cheese and pour in the sauce. Your child won’t notice the difference. Leftover sauce can be frozen for later use.

When dealing with picky eaters I encourage parents not to enter into the emotional side of the struggle. The refusal to eat certain foods has many origins and it seldom has anything to do with the food itself. Sometimes there is a secondary gain, which may be simply the attention and concern of the entire family. Eliminating the emotions surrounding the problem removes the motivation and often solves the problem of a picky eater.

About The Author

Pediatrician Dr. Marta Katalenas is leading the fight against childhood obesity, which she believes is the number one health threat to children today. Dr. Katalenas sees patients at the Pediatric Center of Round Rock in Round Rock, Texas and is also available to speak on issues of childhood obesity and children’s health. Read more health tips online at or

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