Stealthy Veggies

Research confirms what grandmamma always knew: “Vegetables are good for you.” Of course, veggies have no impact on the health of people who refuse to eat them. Let us look at 3 rules to follow when attempting to sneak healthy vegetables into the diet of individuals with autism.

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Rule #1 – no fanfare. The simple act of announcing (or, rather, pronouncing) healthy changes often results in resistance. You might consider dropping the word “vegetables” from your vocabulary. Just avoid saying things like, “You’d better eat your vegetables; they are good for you.” Adding more vegetables into the diet of a resistant individual with autism can best be accomplished if the changes are introduced without fanfare and very gradually, just increasing the amount of veggies in tiny, barely noticeable increments.

Rule #2 – blend in. Disguise the taste and texture of selecting one vegetable or a combination of veggies, giving them a whir in the blender, then stirring a bit of the pureed nutritional power mixture into spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, meatloaf, stew, soup, or other dishes. You can even stir some into catsup or mix with ranch dressing or dip. Zucchini squash, tomatoes, red bell peppers, broccoli, green onions with tops, spinach, summer squash, green beans, green peas, carrots, cucumbers, and other veggies – fresh or cooked – are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that make a big impact on long-term health.

Rule #3 – add crunch. Some folks who will not touch cooked vegetables love the crunch of raw veggies. The key is to serve the crunchy veggies in fairly small chunks. For example, cut celery into one inch chunks, add a bit of dip, and enjoy! Other good dippers are slices of cucumber, small carrot sticks, a sliver of sweet red pepper, or a thin slice of cauliflower. Another popular crunchy, tasty snack is dehydrated veggie chips, including colorful carrot slices, whole green beans, squash, and other nutritious crunchies.

TIP FOR THE DAY: The key to increasing vegetable consumption by picky eaters is to simply add more vegetables into daily diets, very gradually and without fanfare. Of course, you must take into consideration any food allergies or other dietary restrictions, but use these ideas to get the stealthy veggie attack underway.

NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me a confidential email at with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism.

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