I decided drastic measures were called for, so I enlisted the help of Missy Chase Lapine, The Sneaky Chef. Missy realizes that children don't eat what they should. She advocates hiding super foods in the foods that they WILL eat, so their nutrition is not short changed. Missy showed me that you can hide sweet potatoes in just about everything. And since sweet potatoes are a super food you can sneak those in anything with a tomato sauce, and BAM! you just made up for all those gummy worms.
One of my favorite of Missy's recipes is "Sneaky Chef Pizza Rice Balls". They resemble meatballs, but were crispy on the outside and made mostly of rice. Hers were vegetarian and dairy-free, so I've modified the recipe to add in meat and mozzerella cheese...and these have become a big hit at my house.
Ingredients:2 cups of Whole Grain White Rice (or brown if you can't find this)1 whole medium sweet potato or yam, peeled, steamed, and cut into thick chunks3 whole medium carrots, peeled, steamed, cut into chunks2-3 tablespoons water1 large egg1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese (the kind in the green shaker is totally fine)1/4 cup shredded Mozzerella Cheese1/2 roll of Breakfast Sausage or Ground Beef, cooked and crumbled, drained and cooled1 tsp dried oregano and/or basil1 Tbsp tomato paste2 tablespoons wheatgerm, ground flax seed, or oat bran (optional, but adds more nutrients!)Marinara Sauce for serving and dipping (optional again, and add some sweet potato puree into the sauce...no one will ever know)Directions:1. Prepare the rice as instructed on the box. Then put it in the refrigerator to chill. I found that chilled rice makes it easier to roll rice balls.2. Cook sausage or beef. Crumble. Drain of grease. Set aside to cool.3. Steam sweet potatoes (peeled) and carrots. Cut up. Put all in a food processor with 2-3 tsp of water. Puree on high until smooth. (If necessary use another tsp of water to smooth out the puree). Set aside to cool. You will only use two tablespoons of this puree, so you will be able to save the rest to ADD to other recipes and hide nutrition in more of your kids' foods!4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and generously spray a baking sheet with PAM cooking spray.5. Whisk together the egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, the spices, tomato paste, 2 Tablespoons of the orange puree, and 2 tablespoons of the oatbran/wheatgerm/flax seed.6. Add 2 cups of the chilled rice and the sausage and the mozzerella cheese. Mix (squish) together well.7. Put the other 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese in a bowl. Pinch off about 1 Tablespoon of the rice mixture at a time and roll into a little "meatball". Roll this ball in the bowl of Parmesan as a coating and set on baking sheet.8. Fill the sheet with the little rolled balls, then generously spray the tops and sides of all the balls with the PAM cooking spray.9. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Gently flip 'em all over so the other side can brown. Back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
Serve as an appetizer, or as a hand-held TV-watching snack. Eat plain or dunk in marinara.
We've made these three times already, and they are a hit. And I stifle a triumphant hurrah every time Luka puts a sweet potato-laden Rice Ball in his mouth. My next iteration will be adding Reggiano Cheese, Chopped Artichoke Hearts, and maybe some Spinach. We'll see if "Green Meatballs" are as easily accepted by finicky eaters. Wish me luck.
You can find other family-friendly recipes that I like and use in The Recipe Dump here.