I am not a big fan of "hiding" vegetables for children and mixing them with other foods. I believe it is not a good strategy from a long term perspective. By hiding their veggies you are teaching them that vegetables are less of a food. It is something that is not as tasty as whatever you are mixing it into. And that is not a healthy approach to vegetables and food in general.
Vegetables are actually the gold. Vegetables are the things you should treat yourself with and we all need to teach that to our children. When you have a tough day, you should treat yourself with good lentil salad full of fresh healthy vegetables. That will actually give your body all the nutrients it needs to recover from a hard day. You can read more about how we talk to ourselves with respect to junk food in my other article here.
But let's go back to our children. What can we do to help our children to eat more vegetables? First and foremost, children are learning from us, by repeating what we are doing. Therefore, the easiest way to teach children to eat vegetables is to eat them yourself in front of your children. If they see you everyday snacking on cucumbers, truly enjoying the taste, they will want to try. And if this is your normal, it will become their normal as well.
There are other ways to naturally encourage children to eat more veggies though. Arranging food into beautiful pictures and shapes is definitely worth trying.
I tried this many many times but it never really worked with our little man. I spend some time thinking about it. Why doesn't he care about how I arrange his food when it seems to be so popular and fun for other children? What does he actually like? Cars, trains, tractors... all beyond my skills to replicate with food. It would have to be fully functioning to grab his attention. He is a very technical little man 🤣.
But he also loves building blocks, especially building towers... and then of course breaking them down. So I started cutting his veggies into cubes, buildable pieces and I always put a tower on his plate or the 'building veggie blocks' and encourage him to build a tower. All the building blocks get eaten once they are played with enough.
As always, even with our kids, there is no one-fit-all solution in eating and nutrition. Think about what your child likes and dislikes and try to find a way which will be fun for your child. And do not forget, It is ok for children to play with food. It is actually important to let them play and explore new textures of different foods they try. They will get there when they are ready. I am yet to meet an adult who plays with his food and builds towers from their vegetables. If not sooner, the peer pressure in high school will teach them not to play with food.
But for now, let them play and enjoy their food.