How do you create healthy recipes for your kids that they will actually enjoy? Not the easiest task always. We all know that eating healthy is a requirement of staying fit, but it an be a daunting task when you have one or more children.
Kids have very peculiar tastes. One day they need peanut butter and grape jelly, the next they can’t eat anything but pizza! Some kids absolutely love the sauce on pizza, but they won’t touch spaghetti because it has tomato sauce on it! They can be strange at some times, but they are still your kids. How do you deal with it? Well hopefully we will offer some ideas here.
Healthy Recipes aren’t hard to come by, but they can be difficult to make sometimes, and other times they just won’t cut the mustard. You need ideas that your kids will enjoy on a regular basis so that you can rest easy knowing they are eating their food and, more importantly, enjoying it. If your kids don’t like what they are being fed, they will turn irritable, grumpy, and throw tantrums. So, here are some quick tips…
Make food fun
Healthy recipes don’t always include boring oatmeal and plain yogurt, though those are good places to start breakfasts instead of sugary cereals. One way to get your kids engaged in the food they eat is to let them be involved in the process of making the meal plan, and helping to make the food. If your child is still too young to help with decisions, they can always fetch bowls, spoons, etc. to feel involved in the process.
Kids always want McDonald’s? Well make it into a game…
Ask your kids in the morning, during the day, or even the day before what they want for dinner. However, tell them there are rules. The child who wins the game gets what he/she wants for dinner, and they get to help make it. So, what are these “rules”?
– Rule -1- It has to be something you can make at home
– Rule -2- It has to have at least one vegetable included
– Rule -3- You can’t have eaten it in the last three days
– Rule -4- It can’t have any candy in it (duh…)
– Rule -5- If more than one child, then there has to be more than one dish. The child that doesn’t “win” the main dish contest gets to choose the side dish.
So how do you choose who wins? Well, you can either choose the kid who is the most enthusiastic about it, or you can be very arbitrary and draw numbers out of a hat. To make it fair, perhaps try switching off between kids every night.
Your kids know nothing about healthy recipes, of course, so have them use a cookbook. You can get any cookbook under the sun at Amazon.com, or just use one you already have and like.
Another thing you can try is to ask your children what meals they like best. Then, when they weed through the pizza, spaghetti, and macaroni and cheese to real food, you can simply ask if they want to learn how to make it. This helps in two respects:
– It teaches your children the basics of making meals
– Your children will most likely enjoy their food more because they had the idea and learned what kind of effort is involved in cooking the meal and learning how to make healthy recipes in the future.
Healthy Recipe Choices
If your children are really young, then just get them eating what you like (keeping it healthy and small of course) and then you can sort of side-step the “picky-eater” syndrome later on. If, on the other hand your children already have their mind made up about not wanting to try new choices, then try these healthy recipe alternatives to their possible favorites.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
– Use whole wheat pasta instead of regular white pasta, or use gluten free pasta.
– Add garlic to the pasta sauce for the added heart-healthy benefits
– Use anti-biotic and hormone free meat for the meatballs (even if they are frozen and pre-made)
– Cut, or have them cut, everything into smaller pieces so it is more easily digested
– USE SMALLER PORTIONS!
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
– Use spelt bread or sprouted grain bread
– Use organic, anti-biotic, and hormone free cheeses
– Buy organic tomato soup that doesn’t have sugar added to it
– USE SMALLER PORTIONS!
– Buy thin crust pizzas if you can
– Cut the slices smaller so kids think they are still eating two slices even if it’s only one cut into smaller pieces
– Have a salad before digging into the pizza
– Never get the buffet- even if it’s cheaper. Everyone will eat way more than they need to!
– Try to incorporate some veggies (ie: mushrooms, olives, peppers) to get them used to eating them.
– Only have pizza on rare occasions. It’s by no means healthy and it tends to pile up in the stomach
Healthy recipe choices for breakfast aren’t always so easy. Kids like their Coco-Puffs, Trix, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch of course. However, their bodies aren’t big fans of it. Instead, try some of these options as often as you can to get them off their sugary starts.
– Use the regular flavor of oatmeal, even if it is the instant stuff
– Add cinnamon to put a little extra flavor in
– Use a small amount of honey to sweeten it instead of sugar
– Mix in berries for added health benefits as well as taste
– Add apple slices to the meal and cinnamon for added flavor
– Only buy lowfat plain yogurt. (It’s the added sugars and fruits that make it bad for you)
– Add fresh fruit, or canned peaches in order to add flavor.
– Put some oats in the yogurt for fiber
– Top with a little honey for the sweet factor
Smoothies are fun and easy to make. They can taste great and are quick fixes that you can take with you whenever. For kids, keep the serving size below 8 ounces because they do tend to pack a lot of calories and sugar (all from good sources, but nonetheless).
My favorite recipe is very simple (for two 8 oz servings):
– Start with one cup of milk in the blender
– Add one banana
– Add about four strawberries
– Put in about two tablespoons of peanut butter (personally I like almond butter)
– Add 1/4 cup of plain lowfat yogurt
– Blend well until the mixture is red and the peanut butter is off the sides.