There is no doubt that kids can be picky eaters, and a lot of times the only foods they want are not very healthy for them. A constant stream of macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, and hotdogs is enough to make any parent cringe. Not only are these foods empty calories, they are often laden with artificial ingredients. Fruit juices can even be a problem due to the enormous amounts of sugars and additives come brands contain. The challenge is to find creative ways to help kids eat healthier while continuing to give them (modified) versions of their favorite foods.
Blend Baby, Blend
Break out the blender to puree fruits and vegetables and/or create smoothies. Fruit smoothies are a hit with almost anyone plus they make a great fast breakfast or portable snack. In addition to thinks like fruit and yogurt, try sneaking in greens like spinach and kale. Leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, E, iron and fiber. Not only do anti-oxidant rich blueberries turn smoothies a fun purple color, they make the taste of spinach almost undetectable. One word of warning about smoothies: adding orange juice and/or strawberries to leafy greens can produce a very unappealing brown beverage.
A food that kids seem to love is pasta, especially basic spaghetti in red sauce. Sneak in very small pieces of sautéed vegetables like peppers or mushrooms for an additional nutrition boost. Finally, almost any vegetable makes a great puree you can “hide’ in a favorite dish. For example, surprise your kids with green mashed potatoes that have been mixed with pureed zucchini. If the color scares instead of delights them, simply mix in pureed cauliflower to keep things looking “normal” but with an added nutritional boost.
Work with Classic Favorites
It seems to be a universal law that kids love French fries. So instead of giving them fries made with ordinary potatoes, see how they like sweet potato fries. Sweet potatoes pack a ton of nutrients and their naturally sweet flavor appeals to fans of all ages. So you can still give kids a favorite food, and even one with some sweetness, but a healthier version of something they consistently ask for. Going back to pasta, there are now several nutrient-dense choices on the market including high-protein pastas and vegetable-based pastas that can easily pass for the plain pastas kids have been consuming for years. Try these in their favorite dishes as you might be surprised with the results.
Believe it or not, your kids might just need to try something new. Replace pasta with spaghetti squash or slip thinly sliced avocado into a grilled cheese sandwich. You will never know if your kids might like something until they try it. Consider the foods they do enjoy and come up with creative ways of getting them to try similar foods. Start with naturally sweet vegetables such as peas and carrots and go from there. After all, getting your kids to eat healthy is going to take effort on both of your parts.