Coaxing your kids to eat healthy foods doesn't have to escalate into daily battles at the dinner table. Many nutritious edibles can be camouflaged into everyday items like meatballs, pasta sauces or pizzas. Parents also score points by treating their children as partners in the kitchen because kids are more agreeable to trying new dishes when they play a role in the preparation. Over time, even the fussiest young eater will contribute healthy dinner ideas that all your kids will love.
1. Pasta With Meatballs
Choose whole-grain pasta shapes that are eye-catching to kids, such as wheels, stars or letters. Mix some mashed navy beans into your meatball recipe, because they're loaded with iron, fiber and protein, and add some grated carrots for a healthy dose of vitamin A. Stir chunks of broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes into your marinara sauce. Toss a garden salad with light dressing and then sit down to some old-fashioned comfort food.
2. Chicken Tenders
Nuggets and fries are hard acts to follow among kids. But refrain from banning these two over-consumed items from your table. Instead, strike some compromises with your famished youngsters. Prepare some baked cornmeal-coated chicken tenders instead of greasy fried nuggets. Ask your children to give oven-baked fries a chance, as you prepare these slightly-salted slivers of regular or sweet potatoes. Or, choose sliced carrots or plump grapes as a stand-in for French fries.
Show your kids that pizza rocks as a healthy dinner item even without the oily pepperoni and multiple layers of gooey traditional cheese. Buy some whole-wheat pizza dough and tomato sauce at your supermarket. Let your kids pile on raw vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes and spinach. Sprinkle on some low-fat mozzarella to avoid the unwanted cholesterol and saturated fat of regular cheese. Chunks of fruit like pineapples, pears or apples add crunch and flavor to any homemade pizza.
Fill your kids' tummies and tickle their funny bones at the same time by whipping up some breakfast foods for dinner. Cover a whole-wheat English muffin with cooked egg whites and serve with a side dish of fruit. Or, create a fast but filling dinner sandwich by slathering some peanut butter in between two slices of French toast made from whole-grain bread. A smear of peanut butter on wholesome toasted bread with some strips of bacon also goes a long way in satisfying a hungry child.
- Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images