Toddler-Friendly Vegetable Meatballs

I find when I’m cooking for the kids, focusing on all of the senses is your best path to success. Kids eat with their eyes even more than adults. Interesting and familiar colors and shapes can sometimes encourage them to try something new. And what kid doesn’t love a ball? Try sneaking a serving of veggies into your little one with a familiar-looking meatball and their favorite sauce.


Cauliflower is having a well deserved moment right now. It’s incredibly versatile in both taste and texture. Because its taste is so mild, it makes a great base for these meatballs. Cauliflower is a member of the Brassica vegetable family. This family is rich  in essential vitamins and minerals and has been studied for its ability to fight inflammation (R). 


For my kids, carrots are always a safe vegetables. Their natural sweetness makes them a great snack, but also a great choice for these meatballs. Their crispness also adds crunch to the meatballs. Carrots are rich in beta carotene. This is used by our bodies to make Vitamin A, which is vital to growth, development, and vision (R).


This summertime staple is great for developing palates. Its neutral flavor makes it the perfect sneaky vegetable. Like carrots, zucchini is rich in beta carotene, which contribute to healthy growth and vision. 


Leafy greens are always a good choice, but can sometimes be a challenge to get picky eaters to embrace. Sneak them in by thinly sliced them and putting them in the meatball mix. Any green will work here, so feel free to swap out for collards or spinach.

Yields approximately 28-30 meatballs


  • 2 1/2 cups riced cauliflower

  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots

  • 1/2 cup shredded zucchini

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced kale

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

  • 1/4 cup parmesan

  • 2 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 425F.

  2. Grease a baking sheet and set aside.

  3. Fill a pot will 1-2 inches of water. Place a steamer basket in the water and bring to a boil. Add cauliflower to steamer basket, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool.

  4. Place riced cauliflower and shredded zucchini in a clean towel and squeeze excess water. Repeat to remove as much water as possible.

  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, kale, breadcrumbs, parmesan, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Roll mixture into golfball sized balls and place on prepared baking sheet.

  7. Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake 15-20 minutes, until cooked through.

  8. Serve with your toddler’s favorite sauce.

Danielle Moore