Non-sneaky zucchini bread? What does that even mean? It means that my kids know that there is zucchini in this bread! And if you make it for your kids, I hope that you let them know too!

I often come across the idea of “sneaking” vegetables into kid food. There are entire cookbooks, Instagram accounts, Youtube channels, and Facebook pages built upon the concept of sneaking vegetables into “kid-approved” recipes.

I get it. I really do. Kids often decide that they don’t like certain vegetables (or any vegetables at all) and may refuse to eat them. In addition, many parents have heard or experienced firsthand the fact that pressuring kids to eat a certain food often causes them to dislike that food even more. So, it is pretty natural to then try to sneak those veggies in.

But here is the thing. Sure, you may temporarily get your kid to eat a few more vegetables at any given meal but sneaking vegetables into food can actually do more harm than good in the long run.

Firstly, it becomes a win or lose scenario where the parent is pitted against the kid. There is always a winner at each meal. The parent wins if the kid eats the food with the vegetables (and doesn’t notice). The kid wins if he/she notices and refuses the food. This situation does not set a family up for a fun and enjoyable meal time.

Secondly, sneaking vegetables into food can decrease trust in the feeding relationship. If kids start to worry that there might be ingredients that they don’t want to eat hidden in their food, they may become suspicious of all foods, and in turn start refusing foods that they previously enjoyed out of fear that vegetables *gasp* might be lurking in them.

So, what’s a parent to do? Well, I always encourage parents to be up-front about the ingredients in a recipe if their kids ask. Don’t try to purposefully disguise or omit telling them about things that you are worried they may not eat. Our job as a parent is to expose our kids to a wide variety of foods and help them become more adventurous eaters.

I’ll use my own 6 year old as an example. He used to eat zucchini in a variety of ways and was especially fond of spiralized zucchini “noodles”. Then one day last year at dinner he told me “I don’t eat zucchini anymore.” My first instinct was to say to him “What? You love zucchini! Just try some.” BUT I refrained and didn’t make a big deal out of his announcement. At that meal he didn’t touch any of his zucchini. I then offered him zucchini at numerous other meals in a variety of different ways. And guess what? He didn’t touch any of it!

But, I continue to offer my son the zucchini and let him decide if he wants to eat it or not. I have also continued to provide him with low-pressure exposure to zucchini. He has grown zucchini from seed. He waters and picks the ripe zucchini in our garden. He helps me wash, prep, and cook zucchini in many different ways. But it is only recently that he has decided that he wants to eat some of the baked goods we have been making. So, he has been eating chocolate zucchini muffins and this zucchini bread. The part that I find particularly amusing is that if someone were to ask him if he likes zucchini, I am pretty sure his response would be “Nope,”  even as he is finishing off a second piece of zucchini bread.

Sometimes helping your kids try vegetables is really just a matter of working to remove some of the pressure. Offer your kids vegetables over and over again BUT at the same time tell them, “you don’t have to eat them if you don’t want to.” Sounds weird, I know, but it often works!

And…those kid-approved recipes with “sneaky” vegetables? Keep making them, they are often a great way of increasing vegetables in the whole family’s diet. BUT just take the “sneaky” bit out. Let your kids help with the cooking or baking so they get used to seeing a variety of ingredients. And if they ask, tell them what is in a recipe.

This zucchini bread is a big hit in my household. We use regular all-purpose flour but boost the fibre and omega-3 content by adding in some wheat germ and ground flaxseed. I imagine that walnuts would also be a great addition but I tend to keep our snack items nut-free so they can be brought to school.


  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini, excess water drained or squeezed out
  • 1/2 cup ground flax (I used Manitoba Milling Co. brand)
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Grease or line an 8 x 8 square cake pan.

3. In a large bowl whisk together dry ingredients. (flax, wheat germ, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt)

4. In a separate medium-sized bowl whisk together sugars, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in grated zucchini and mix well.

5. Add sugar and zucchini mixture to dry ingredients and mix until just incoporated. Don’t overmix.

6. Pour entire mixture into prepared cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until centre is cooked through. (A toothpick comes out clean      and the middle is slightly springy to the touch.)

7. Let cool. Cut into squares.


For grating the zucchini, a box grater works well but I find that the grater attachment on the food processor produces a more evenly grated product. I prefer to finely grate my zucchini. This bread also freezes well and if portioned ahead of time, it can be pulled out for a quick breakfast or easy snack.

Disclaimer: I am a Manitoba Milling Co. Ambassador and the smooth whole-milled flaxseed used in this recipe was a gifted product. However, I find that the Manitoba Milling Co product is of a superior quality than other ground flax I have used and way easier than grinding your own. The fine texture makes it perfect for use in baking. Plus, it is shelf-stable, which means that it can be stored at room temperature. That’s right, refrigeration is not required! Ground flaxseed can great way to add a boost of fibre and omega-3 to your family’s diet.

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