The modern parent struggles to balance making meals that are healthy with meals that children will eat. However, health and tastiness don’t have to be mutually exclusive, not even for picky-eater kids. All it takes is a little inspiration and creativity to turn just about any less-than-healthy food that kids love into a guilt-free meal.
It’s hard to find a kid who doesn’t like chicken, and, luckily for us, it’s one of the healthiest proteins available. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go the extra mile in making chicken meals as healthy as possible. Instead of chicken nuggets with mashed potatoes and corn, transform it into baked chicken with broccoli and brown rice. Of course, it’s not always easy to get kids to eat something like broccoli or any green vegetable. Try drizzling a delicious, healthy sauce on top to zest up the meal.
The great thing about pizza is that it’s probably the most customizable food ever. You can make it much healthier than the average pizza that’s covered in fatty meat toppings by swapping them for healthier, plant-based toppings, such as spinach, olives, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Mushrooms mimic the look and texture of meat without the added fat, so it’s a great option. You can opt for skim cheese to further reduce the overall fat content, and many grocery stores even sell plant-based crusts. A fun idea is to get kids involved in making the pizza and choosing their own toppings from a healthy assortment that you provide. Regardless of the toppings, kids will still appreciate its saucy and cheesy goodness.
Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
Kids love to slurp up saucy spaghetti (and honestly, adults enjoy it too!), but pasta is notorious for being full of empty calories. A tasty and fun alternative to spaghetti pasta is spaghetti squash. Kids will have a blast making this dish with you, and it is as healthy as it is delicious. Squash has a very mild taste that is easily masked by richly-flavored marinara sauce. This low-calorie pasta substitution leaves you plenty of room for juicy, tender beef meatballs or succulent turkey meatballs for a healthier option.
The more you practice substituting, the easier it gets to come up with meals that are good for the body and taste buds. If you need a little help along the way, you can find the healthy version of just about any meal you can think of with a quick Google search.
For more ideas about what to cook up for your family, check out our recipe column!