4 Tips for Adding Healthy Ingredients to Meals Kids Love
Every busy mom knows that finding healthy foods for your kids to eat is important to their physical and emotional development and their overall health. Unfortunately, getting kids to eat their vegetables isn’t always easy. If your kids are picky eaters, it can be nearly impossible to come up with a healthy meal plan they’ll enjoy.
Healthy food items like broccoli don’t have to be a centerpiece of the meal though, and sneaking them into foods kids already love is easy. You’ll make your kids happy, reduce the amount of time you spend cooking, and most importantly, provide healthy, nutritious meals for your children.
There are ways you can incorporate healthy foods into your child’s diet without them even knowing. They might even learn to love healthy fruits and vegetables.
Mac and Cheese with Green Vegetables
Every kid under the sun loves macaroni and cheese. Even if your child is lactose intolerant, you’ve probably found vegan versions at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or even Safeway, that they can eat with soy or rice milk.
While macaroni and cheese isn’t going to last long around most kids, serving it with a side of steamed broccoli isn’t going to work. They’ll chow down on the good stuff and try to feed the broccoli to the dog. So what do you do?
Try chopping up steamed broccoli into small pieces and mixing it in with macaroni and cheese. Steamed spinach can also work when it is chopped and mixed in. Over time, you can increase the amount of green veggies you add to every portion of mac and cheese you serve.
If you can’t get your kids to eat tomatoes either, adding some to your baked macaroni and cheese along with those green veggies is a surefire recipe for success.
Kids often don’t look at a side of white beans or corn as something they want to eat. Maybe they want that chicken leg on the plate, but if your kids are like those many busy moms have reported, they won’t touch the side dishes.
Instead of serving foods like beans and corn whole, try putting them in a food processor and making a dip. White bean hummus is delicious and easy to serve as a side dish for a meal or as a healthy snack with carrots, celery, or whole wheat pita bread.
Corn and radish dip goes great on tortilla chips, and you can even find broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach dips online. Make these part of your child’s daily food intake, and pretty soon they’ll be chowing down on that side dish of asparagus just like you.
Try Jell-O Salad
Kids love Jell-O. It’s just a fact. Unless they have particular dietary restrictions it’s also a pretty good low-calorie, low-sugar dessert that they won’t mind eating on a regular basis.
To make it even healthier and get some fresh fruit in the mix, try one of those old-timey-looking Jell-O salads or molds. They’re easy to make with almost any fruit, such as grapes, strawberries, or cantaloupe pieces.
Best of all, you can make eating fresh fruit fun with a mold. Make sure you pick fruits your child already likes, at least in some quantity, so it won’t seem like a risky proposition for them to try.
You can even serve a Jell-O mold slice or salad with extra fresh fruit once you cut and plate it for them.
Bake Fresh Fruit
Many children enjoy fresh fruit in the morning or as a snack, but there are some who simply don’t like the texture or taste of fruits like apples, bananas, and strawberries. It might seem strange to you, but kids have a different palate than adults do, and a child’s palate takes time to develop.
One of the best ways you can get kids to eat more fresh fruit is by simply baking it like a sweet treat. Apple slices with a little bit of cinnamon and a handful of raisins make an incredibly healthy dessert kids will love.
You can also bake other types of fresh fruit like pears topped with mint and honey, or peaches topped with whipped yogurt. Your kids will love these healthy desserts, and they might learn not to reach for a pint of ice cream or the cookie jar after every meal.
Research shows that it can take children a minimum of 10 tastes before they like something new. In some cases, it can take even more, and a child that ends up loving vegetables as an adult may spit them out on the plate when they’re young.
Don’t give up on helping your child develop healthy eating habits, or cave to their pleas of fast food, pizza, and endless helpings of frozen chicken fingers. Work with them now to find dishes and snacks loaded with fruits, fresh vegetables, and lean protein.
No one wants their child to grow up to experience serious health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. You can help protect your child with discreet additions to traditional dishes.