The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hiding vegetables in bread

futureproof's picture

Hiding vegetables in bread

Slightly tongue in cheek putting this in the challenges section but maybe it is apt.

I have a five year old, a three year old and a one year old. It seems like I've been saying 'C'mon, it tastes good,  just try it' in a number of different ways for the past three years and I suspect that I'll be doing it for at least the next three years too. Our youngest one is still at the 'I'll eat everything even if it IS lego' phase and we're making progress using the merit system with the eldest but the middle one is at the 'I won't eat it unless it's pasta with mayonnaise, and it should better be the right shaped pasta and if the wind is blowing in the wrong direction or the sun is not aligned in the zenith of venus then I'm not even looking at it let alone touching it' phase. 

One thing they're happy eating though is bread, as long as it isn't a funny colour and doesn't have seeds on it. Luckily I'm a baker and, even more luckily I have you guys to lean on for support and advice. Now my challenge is for you to share your existing or come up with new recipes to 'hide' all those wholesome foods that the little tinkers refuse to consider as food in a bread that they will eat.

If we post our recipes and techniques here, with some photo's of the finished product, I'll then choose a bread a month to feature at my bakery and sell at the farmers markets here in Cape Breton, giving the original baker full credit of course. Oh, and bonus points if you can get a photo of some kids - real kids mind, not cardboard cutouts or paid actors - actually eating it.

So my challenge has become your challenge. Ha! Good luck :)


ars pistorica's picture
ars pistorica

Most vegetables have approximately 85% - 90% water, and, if pureed whole, can be added and slightly substituted for a portion of the water.  I often will do a puree that looks something like:

100% vegetable, raw or roasted

5% onion, raw

2.5% garlic, raw

.75% salt

.1% aromats, dry

This sort of formula can usually be added to any bread formula at up to 60% of the flour weight, with more typical ranges being 35 - 50%. Cheers.


dabrownman's picture

great idea.  Bread is already vegan but that would be real veggie bread.  You know my apprentice is going to try that out as a multi veggie mix!

SugarOwl's picture

But this is exactly what I have been looking for! Basically I have a toddler who has eating problems at a level beyond picky (we actually see a therapist for it). I have added veggie purees (mixed with fruit) instead of applesauce or 1/2 the oil in muffins, but wasn't sure what to do for regular bread. This is very helpful, Thank you!

To anyone else looking for alternatives to bread, I find mixing those baby food pouches with his milk works well. You could call them smoothies, get creative with the names/colors! We are not at a point yet where he knows characters and such (too young for that), but when we get there I will probably be making lots of "Hulk" smoothies!

Windischgirl's picture

Gosh, this sounds like my house 15 years ago...with exactly the same behaviors in each of the kids.

Veggies are hard to hide in bread without the color changing--the only success I ever had there was with a chocolate zucchini bread from the Farm Journal Baking Book...which I will be happy to share, if  you like.  It tasted like brownies, but in a loaf form.

Regarding stuffing veggies into the kids: I resorted to bottles and bottles of ranch dip.  I also got a divided tray with a cover--my picky one called it the "Food Court"--and placed a cut-up fruit or veg in each compartment.  They were free to take what they wanted, and everything tastes better with ranch on it (even grapes).  The Food Court came out for every snacktime for years...!

My challenge was getting the middle one to eat protein in any form, altho he loved carbs.  I managed to sneak whole wheat flour, ground flax seed, soy flour, wheat germ, etc, into every baked item I made.  I make marvelously hefty scones, flaky but don't rise much, due to all the whole grains imbedded in the dough.  Right now I need to go to bed--work in the AM, ugh--but will be happy to share some of my secrets over the weekend.  I have a competitive spirit!

HeidiH's picture

Hadn't thought about hiding veggies in bread but I hide veggies all the time in other things.  For example, when I make a meatloaf, I make a slurry in the food processor of the eggs and a bag of spinach.  The color of the meatloaf is changed a little bit but it's not green and you can't taste the spinach.    You might try repeatedly reading "Green Eggs and Ham" to them.  LOL

lazybaker's picture

I'm not too crazy about vegetables in bread. The only plant items I can tolerate in or on bread are caramelized onions and basil. Vegetables as fillings and toppings are ok, like vegetable filling in a calzone or vegetable pizza. 

Pureed squash, pumpkin, or spinach are ok in chocolate or brownie mix because the sugar and chocolate can mask the taste. 

Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

If i remember right at all, children are kind of programed to want the sweeter stuff, and les of the more savory stuff.  When i was a kid i hated veggies, now I like em, wierd huh.  Perhaps try and feed them some fruit instead, kids love fruit.

Or you could hide some spinach/kale in fruit smoothies, thats easy...but me personally, I do not like the idea of vegetables IN my bread. lol.

Windischgirl's picture

Here's my first recipe to share, which I made this morning.  It's a version of "Crazy Cake", which first became popular in the 1970's.  I like it because there is plenty of room for improvisation, depending on what ingredients you have available and if you are trying to work around food allergies.  In my house, I usually make it with the apples or pears that are left in the fruit bowl at the end of the week...I guess I feel sorry for the poor fruit.  I must warn you that it's not very sweet--I follow the rule that a baker can reduce sugar content of a recipe by 1/3 without affecting product quality.  If you want a sweeter cake, increase the sugar to 1 cup.

Paula's Spice Cake
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. all purpose flour (sometimes I substitute 2 Tbs. ground flaxseed for 2 Tbs. of the flour)
pinch salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 c. brown sugar (up to a cup, if you like it sweeter)
1/3 c. cooking oil
1 c. of any liquid: buttermilk, plain or vanilla yogurt, orange or apple juice
1 tsp white vinegar
Add-ins: 2 medium to large ripe pears or apples, cored and diced into bite-sized pieces; OR 1 1/2 c. shredded carrots or zucchini      

Optional: 1/2 c. raisins and/or  1/2 c. chopped nuts

Butter a 9x9 inch baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and whisk to blend. Fold in the fruit, making sure that it is coated with the flour. Whisk together all the wet ingredients, including the brown sugar. Pour the wet into the dry and fold in with a spatula until the flour is incorporated. Pour into the baking pan and bake for about 35 minutes, or until it tests done.

The cake is moist and dense due to the brown sugar and large amount of fruit; for a lighter texture use white sugar.  I'm thinking this could also be baked in mini-loafpans.  The cake keeps for a day or two, theoretically...I've never had that happen in my house. In fact, my once-picky eater (now age 18) can eat half the cake on his own. 

The secret to this cake is mise-en-place; once the baking soda and vinegar meet, it needs to go in the oven to get as much rise as possible. 

I am wondering how this would be with gluten-free flours; the fact that it has no eggs and can be made without dairy makes it a pretty good choice for people with cholesterol issues.  And it's fast!

Let me know if you do end up trying this.


PS: Ugh, forgot the picture of the child eating.  My husband has the camera and he is out of town.  I'm still waiting for him to give me the digital version of the Christmas Rose breads I made (sigh).




mini_maggie's picture

Without changing the colour of the bread will certainly limit the options.  As a former kid who hated veges (now an arguably well adjusted and decidedly healthy eating adult), you might have best luck focusing on fruits until their palates mature a bit.  Sweet potato might be a good exception, although it will tint the loaf.  Do they object to fruit chunks?  I have a great orange cranberry half whole wheat recipe that is nice and soft and my nephews love (pics won't happen soon as they live an hour away, I'm afraid), that you can do a hundred variations of by altering the type of fruit spread/juice and dried fruits you use.  Orange/cran, Cran/blueberry, almond apricot, apple/banana... Sneak in some quinoa flour or chia seeds (they're tiny and hide well with banana flecks, lol). 

Don't have the recipe here but I can post it later if you like.   Just wanted to say hello to a fellow Bluenoser :-)

futureproof's picture

Just wanted to say hello to a fellow Bluenoser :-)

Three Nova Scotians on the same page - it's like rush-hour in Cape Breton!

These are some great ideas, and the crazy cake has me thinking of mixing fruit and veg puree into something using pistoricas formula.

And of course when I was a tyke I literally filled my pockets with half chewed veg, stuck it to the bottom of the table or slipped it to the dog or into my shoes to dispose of later. My kids aren't that deceptive... yet!


mini_maggie's picture

"My kids aren't that deceptive... yet!"

That you know of, lol.  Maybe they're better than you think!

My friend says she always knows when the kids are slipping the dog their veges by the odours emanating from the dog.

lazybaker's picture

I really do like battered fried vegetables. It's an easy batter to make: equal parts all-purpose flour and cornstarch and gradually mix in water or soda water to make a slightly thick batter. Coat the vegetables in the batter, fry, and then lightly salt them. Moderate amounts because they're high in calories.

I used to like to make a spinach dip (spinach and sour cream) and have it on toasted bread. Though, I gained weight from eating too much of the dip. LOL I think a low fat or nonfat cream cheese can be used instead of sour cream.

Maybe consider using eggroll or wonton wrappers, phyllo, or puff pastry as casings for vegetable fillings. They offer a crunchy texture. 

Ghobz's picture

... they eat fruits. One quarter to half a cup a day will be plenty if they get to eat some fruits. When my kids were that age and their friends went to play, they wouldn't eat our food. Since they sometimes spent the day at home (I didn't work while my neighbours and acquintances from the park's playground were, both parents) I hid some vegies in the afternoon milk shake. As long as it isn't dark green they will not know there were any in those delicious milk or yogurt shakes packed with blueberries (spiked with cucumber) or mangoes (spiked with cooked carrot) or strawberries (spiked with tomato). The veggies' taste doesn't come through at all, it's magical. And they came for seconds *giggles*.

I didn't have that problem with my kids since we're of mediteranean descent. Vegies and legumes form the bulk of our meals, they basically are at the bottom of our food pyramid. They never knew white pasta and sliced bread existed until they began to go to play dates with friends and luckily, they didn't like the "all white, all bland, no vegies" fare their friends loved and that some of them ate almost exclusively, to their parent's despair. I had the reverse problem in a way: I remember they would go through a huge jar of pickles in a single day if they could hide from me to eat it. I was so worried about their kidneys when that happened.

We have a nephew though who would only eat if we told him the food was from McDonald, which was weird because we know for a fact his parents are no fans of fast food. We made him believe for quite a while such and such on the table was from the drive-through. If it wasn't from a fast-food, he was pretty much like your kid, only white or pale food, no vegies, white sliced bread only either with peanut butter or plain butter. Now he's 16 yers old and he's a true mediterranean boy. He wouldn't touch white sliced bread with a 10 foot pole.

So you see, that "picky" period doesn't last.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I never called them vegetables at the table, they were mountains, trees, piles of rocks, and all kinds of colors on a plate that was a world or an island.  Really fun by kid sitting!  Bread crumbs are a rock's best friend.  Pile up some steamed cauliflower and make a mountain and turn it into a volcano with butter roasted bread crumbs on top of that.  God is that good!  Munching on mountains and volcanoes are a lot more fun than just eating vegetables!  Add some green trees and orange logs then let them slide under a pork chop continent.  The table are the oceans...   A salad can be a jungle.  Good fun on slow days. 

Ever had suitcase eggs?  :)