If you’ve ever tried getting a kid to eat their veggies, you know that it can be a battle of wills. Parents can try to model good food choices, but the foods kids crave may not always be the foods that are good for them. And as a result, parents and children are left in a standoff to see which side will cave in first.
Getting your kids to trade in their sweet and salty favorites for healthier options can be a chore, particularly if you have a finicky eater on your hands. But with a little creativity, you can find ways to lighten up some of the meals they love.
Vitamin-packed muffins make a healthy breakfast on the go.
If you’re looking for an easy, healthy breakfast option, give thisblueberry muffin recipea try. Blueberries are a great source ofantioxidants and vitamin C. And the applesauce, whole wheat flour, and avocado oil in this muffin recipe makes them lower in fat and sugar than most bakery options.
Bake up a bunch on the weekend and have weekday breakfast on the table in less time than it takes to pour a bowl of cereal.
Steer clear of sugary drinks.
Juice boxes are an undeniably convenient way to give your kids a drink on the go. But before your little one takes a sip from that straw, take a peek at the label to see exactly what they’re drinking.
One 6 fl oz. Hi-C Flashin’ Fruit Punch juice box has 80 calories,22 grams of sugar, as well as high fructose corn syrup. For a healthier option, look for juice boxes with less sugar and all natural ingredients instead. For example, a 6.75 fl oz. Honest Kids Super Fruit Punch drink has 40 calories,9 grams of sugar,and all natural ingredients. Or better yet, send them off to school with a thermos filled with cold water instead.
Bake veggies for a great sandwich companion.
Who doesn’t love potato chips? But you should know that there is an unhealthy amount of fat and sodium in many of these salty snacks. A serving of Lays classic potato chips contains 10 g of fat and170 mg of sodium.
But don’t despair — your kids don’t have to eat their sandwiches alone. Baked veggie chips are a healthier option and a great way to sneak in another serving of veggies for the day. Terra sweet potato chips, for example, have only10 mg of sodium.
You can alsomake your own veggie chipswith practically any veggie in your fridge including sweet potatoes, beets, and kale. Sprinkle thinly sliced veggies with a small amount of sea salt and oil. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
Make a healthier mac and cheese.
Mac and cheese is an easy go-to meal that kids love. But beware of high amounts of sodium that can be found in even the organic brands. Kraft macaroni & cheese contains570 mg of sodium.Annie’s Homegrown classic macaroni & cheese may seem like a better option, but it contains540 mg of sodium.
Try a healthier version of this kid-friendly favorite with First Lady Michelle Obama’s owncauliflower mac & cheese recipe. This dish is kid approved. The First Lady says her lower sodium recipe is one of Sasha and Malia’s favorites. Obama’s lower sodium version adds a ½ head of cauliflower to the typical noodles and cheese.
Try a new twist on nuggets.
Although they may be fun for your kids to eat, chicken nuggets at your local grocery store or favorite fast food restaurant often contain high levels of sodium and lots of preservatives. For example, there is470 mg of sodiumin five Tyson chicken nuggets.
As a healthier option that’s just as tasty, try this recipe for baked chicken piecescoated with brown rice cerealand seasoning instead. If you want to make your nuggets even more fun to eat, cut your chicken pieces in a variety of cool shapes.
Makeover your mash with cauliflower.
If you’re looking for a healthy side dish option for dinner, thismashed cauliflower recipeis a great way to “sneak” more veggies into your kid’s diet. Add garlic, fresh herbs, and a bit of Parmesan cheese to puréed cauliflower for a side dish so delicious your kiddies will have no idea they’re eating something healthy.
Polenta pizza crust is great for gluten-free kids.
Put a healthy spin on your Friday night family pizza. Thispolenta crust pizzarecipe is especially awesome you’re gluten-free. Top your crust with fresh cheese, herbs, and cherry tomatoes for a yummy pizza with less fat and calories than your delivery.
You don’t have to ditch dessert altogether to keep your kids from having too much sugar. Try making your ownfrozen fruit barsfor a healthy option with less sugar. Just purée your favorite fruit and freeze for four to six hours. Or blend frozen mangoes, coconut milk, and maple syrup together and freeze for anice cream alternativethat won’t leave you feeling guilty.
It’s no secret that kids often love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But jelly can have loads of sugar. Smucker’s strawberry jam 12 grams of sugar per 1 tbsp. Instead of buying store-bought jelly, try makinglow sugar jamat home. Use whole grain bread rather than white, unsweetened peanut butter, and add a banana.
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