by Lifestyle Expert, Kimmie Dillon
We’ve all been there. If left on their own, our children would probably eat macaroni and cheese for dinner every night. I know mine would! Getting our kids to eat their recommended portion of 5 fruits and vegetables a day can be challenging, at best. The goal here is to establish healthier eating habits without activating their well-tuned “radar” for anything unfamiliar! Here are 10 ideas for parents to “sneak” some healthier veggies and fruits into their favorite meals:
I realize that cheese pizza can be sacred to youngsters. One solution is to add (or order) a ½ cup of finely chopped tomatoes underneath the layer of cheese. This will add a crucial serving of veggies while being blanketed with cheese. Toppings like pineapple, basil and finely diced peppers will also significantly add to the nutritious value of this popular dish.
Mac N Cheese
Yes, you can work in some “stealthy” vegetables into this child-revered favorite! If you’re like many of us and cooking it right out of the box, try adding some frozen veggies like cauliflower, butternut squash, peas and carrots. For pickier eaters, puree these veggies and then add them to the mix. Remember, everything tastes much better when it’s covered in cheese.
Camouflage veggies inside of ground meat. Grated veggies will go undetected in meatballs and meatloaf. You can even create a healthy spaghetti and lasagna this way.
Another favorite fried dish that makes many parents cringe. You can make these guys a bit more nutritious by providing some healthy sides. Bake sweet potato fries instead of greasy French fries. For healthier nuggets, make your own. Dip cut-up chicken tenders in a skim milk/egg white mixture. Cover with finely crushed corn flakes and bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, turning once.
Try mashed sweet potatoes for a change. They contain more vitamin A and C than regular potatoes. Puree cauliflower and mix in to add another healthy serving of veggies. Kids and adults can’t resist the taste of creamy mashed potatoes whether they are sweet or regular!
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Jelly is full of sugar and empty calories. So what’s a parent to do when your child always requests this basic sandwich? To make this staple healthier, substitute in a thin layer of low-sugar jelly topped with an apple slice, banana or raisins. Healthier and low-fat versions of peanut butter are also available in grocery stores.
Soups and Stews
Carrot juice can be substituted for part of the liquid in sauces, soups and stews. This widely available juice is a great source of vitamin A. Bugs Bunny will be proud of you!
Substitute applesauce for half of the oil in baking recipes. Muffins, cakes and breads taste great with these fruity additions.
Kids love to eat what they help create. Provide strawberries, bananas, blueberries, peaches and oranges along with juices and yogurts. For an extra healthy smoothie, blend in ½ cup tofu.
Finally, always keep fruit and vegetables washed and available. While your kids are engrossed with watching television, offer cut veggies and fruit along with individual dipping cups. Kids just love to dip! Other ideas include ready-to-serve fruit cups, bananas, and dried fruits.