How to Sneak Healthy Ingredients into Your Kid's Food

April 13, 2015

If you want to win the dinner battle, you’re going to have to get creative with your kid’s meals.  Adding veggies to smoothies and making healthy muffins are just a few tactics to try.

Let’s just face the facts here; most kids are picky eaters.  They aren’t exactly known for being adventurous or enjoying a wide variety of ingredients.  Kids are all about the simple stuff like chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and everything served with ketchup and ranch dressing.  For many parents meal times become a stressful battle of trying to coax their kids into eating something healthy, with the little ones flat out refusing.  Most parents give in to their child’s unhealthy eating simply out of desperation; they don’t want their child to starve so the chicken nuggets win time after time while the broccoli goes on your plate or into the trash.

Ultimately we probably know that no child is going to actually going to starve to death through refusal to eat what they’re served, but parents are just plain exhausted from the constant kitchen table showdown.  The good news is that many experts say that children eventually outgrow their picky eating habits.  Think back to your own childhood and the laundry list of items you turned up your nose at, and it’s likely that you now enjoy many of them.  But until that day comes growing kids still need to have their nutritional needs met, and that includes fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  So while you're patiently waiting for the time to come when you can relax knowing that your child is eating their vegetables, here are some easy and creative ways to sneak more healthy ingredients into your kid’s food.

  1. For added fiber mix in a little oat flour (finely ground oats) into ground meat dishes such as meatballs, meatloaf and turkey burgers.
  2. Add a handful of kale or spinach to a smoothie made with colorful fruits like berries. Beets also make a healthy addition to smoothies and you can balance out the earthy flavor with a sweet fruit like pineapple.
  3. Put some pumpkin or butternut squash puree (unsweetened) into the sauce for macaroni and cheese.
  4. Use a waffle recipe made with oat or brown rice flour for more fiber and nutrition than traditional wheat flour.
  5. Add pureed or shredded vegetables like onions, mushrooms, spinach, carrots, and zucchini to meatballs, meatloaf, sloppy joes, and taco filling.
  6. Add a can of pumpkin puree (unsweetened) to your usual chili recipe. It will give it a rich texture with lots of added fiber, vitamins and antioxidants and they won’t even notice.
  7. Make healthy muffins with shredded carrots or zucchini and whole wheat flour.
  8. Switch to whole grain pasta and breads. There are many options available now that contain whole grains but still look like they’re made with white flour.
  9. Make sweet potato fries instead of the traditional potato variety.
  10. Add pureed cooked cauliflower to mashed potatoes.

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