Though it’s sometimes difficult to convince children to eat certain foods, good nutrition during the early years of life is crucial for healthy development. It can be tricky to ensure your children are getting the nutrients they need if they’re picky eaters, but with the help of some new recipe ideas, your kids will quickly begin eating healthier without even realising it.
Many of your children’s favorite recipes can be slightly altered so they’ll be more nutritious. For example, if your kids are more likely to eat sweets and often refuse the vegetables you put on their plates, some creative ideas will help you sneak some more produce into their diet.
Starting small with something every kid loves is a great idea. For some extra help with getting your children interested in eating a more balanced diet, here are five healthy foods they’ll love!
Avocados are great since they provide a good variety of vitamins and minerals such as pantothenic acid, vitamin K, folate and copper, just to name a few. They also contain antioxidants known as carotenoids, which are important for eye and cardiovascular health. Most interestingly, avocados don’t just contain carotenoids, but they also help you absorb them better as well!
It’s simple to get children interested in eating avocados since they have a mild flavor and work well in recipes that can replace or mimic some of their favorites. For example, chocolate avocado pudding is a healthier alternative to regular pudding, and it freezes well in popsicle molds, creating a treat that is great for summertime snacking.
Avocados can also be mashed to create dips—hummus can be made with avocado—or it can be used in place of mayonnaise in egg or chicken salad. Pureeing it with lemon juice and herbs works well for pasta dishes, and you can add it to sandwiches and smoothies quite easily.
2. Almond Butter
Almond butter can be used in place of peanut butter in any kid-approved recipe you already use that calls for peanut butter. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, so they may reduce the risk for heart disease. The nutritional profile of almonds is impressive, as just a quarter cup of sliced almonds contains 49 percent of the recommended daily value of biotin, and they are also a good source of vitamin E, manganese, copper and magnesium.
By blending almonds in a food processor to create almond butter or purchasing premade almond butter, you can increase the likeliness of your children enjoying almonds so they can reap the health benefits of consuming them. If you choose to purchase almond butter instead of making your own, just be certain to read the ingredient label. Avoid almond butter that has added sugar and/or hydrogenated oils; the simpler the ingredients, the better.
You can use almond butter to create a sauce for pasta, spread it on apple slices or celery sticks, make granola, top oatmeal, or use it to make a healthy shake that can satisfy your children’s desire for sweets. Blend your family’s choice of milk (use unsweetened, non dairy milk made from almonds, cashews or peas since it works just as well and cuts down on calories) with cocoa powder, banana, a handful of ice cubes and some almond butter to create a shake that’s suitable for any time of day.
Flourless muffins are also great, as they can serve as a snack, breakfast or dessert. Simply replace the peanut butter in this recipe with almond butter. For less sugar, omit the honey; you’ll still end up with good results! Stevia-sweetened chocolate chips can be used for an extra reduction in sugar, or replace the chocolate chips with berries for something different.
3. Sweet Potato
Your kids are certain to love sweet potatoes. They can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. There are also different varieties of sweet potatoes available, some of which your children might find intriguing since they’re literally purple! Some sweet potatoes are starchier than others, whereas others are sweeter, so you’ll have to experiment to find which your kids prefer.
White-fleshed and purple-fleshed sweet potatoes tend to be starchier than the more common orange-fleshed varieties, so you’ll want to use those for most savoury recipes. How you prepare sweet potatoes can increase their sweetness too; baking or steaming them will give the best flavour.
Overall, sweet potatoes are nutritionally amazing. A single cup contains 214 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin A, which is important for eye health. They also contain a good amount of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, potassium and fibre!
Sweet potato chips or crisps are a great replacement to the usual ones made from white potatoes since they’re more nutritious. Other ways you can incorporate sweet potatoes into your children’s diets are to puree them and add them to batter (pancakes, biscuits and muffins), make soups, mash them and spread them on unsweetened raisin toast, and sneak them into a frittata or burgers. It’s simple to use them as a substitution for white potatoes in recipes too.
Berries provide important antioxidants your children need to combat the negative effects of free radicals and maintain a healthy life. Despite their somewhat sweet taste, they’re low in sugar compared to most other fruits, making them a great choice for snacks, breakfasts or desserts. Berries tend to contain a good amount of vitamin C, fiber and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients such as resveratrol.
Making smoothies and adding a mixture of berries to batters is a simple way to ensure your children are getting them in their diets. Pureed berries mixed with water or coconut water can be frozen in popsicle molds for a great summer treat. You can cook them down to create a sauce or jam for adding to foods such as yogurt and pancakes. Making gummies or infused water are two creative ways that will get your kids interested in eating berries if they aren’t too fond of them.
Salmon and other fish are important foods to include in your children’s diets. They contain healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, that are crucial for brain and heart health. Since kids are growing, it’s even more essential they are eating foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids. If your kids won’t eat fish or your family is vegetarian, try adding ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil to recipes to ensure they’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids.
The best way to introduce the pickiest of eaters to fish is to include it in a recipe they’re already familiar with. Use it in place of tuna in tuna salad, for example. Using sauces and marinades can help, as well as adding salmon to soups and pasta dishes.
Getting and Keeping Your Kids Interested
One simple way you can get your kids interested in eating healthier is to involve them in meal prep and cooking. Ask them what they would like to eat, and introduce them to different recipes. There are plenty of kid-friendly cooking channels on YouTube you can watch with your children, which can inspire them to make healthier choices as well get involved in the kitchen.
“Cook With Amber” is one of the best cooking channels for kids, though it isn’t the only one available. Since Amber is a kid herself, it’s easy for other children to relate to her, and her recipes are often simple yet incredibly healthy.
Don’t hesitate to browse through YouTube for other great cooking channels your kids will love too. If you run into any issues viewing the videos, take a look at Secure Thoughts’ guide on how to access region-blocked content.
Introducing new, healthier foods doesn’t have to be a struggle. By swapping ingredients out in recipes your kids already love and getting your kids involved in cooking, your children will be able to enjoy eating a variety of foods that not only taste good but are good for them.
Do you have any recipes you’d like to share that include these five healthy foods? Are there any cooking channels on YouTube your kids enjoy? Post them in the comments.
About the Author: Cassie is a tech blogger and health advocate. As a mom, she knows how difficult it can be to get kids to eat well, so she enjoys sharing her ideas and experiences in hopes of helping others.