Being a parent is tough, especially if you have kids in the age group of 2 -12 years. Food is just one of your worries amongst a heap of other things. To top it, thinking about healthier food choices and nutritional balance feels like a time consuming activity for a working parent. However, for growing kids, proper nutrition is of utmost importance. It sets them on the right track and is the first step towards setting a habit of having a healthy and balanced diet. Result is sharp minds, active bodies and boosted immunity. Newsflash! It doesn’t have to be so difficult. Know where to start! Here are a few ideas:
Nutritious and healthy foods have their roots in these ingredients – fresh veggies, whole fruits, nuts, eggs, chicken, oats, yogurt, whole grains, and milk. Below are some ideas to get you started and route your thinking process to a creative direction:
1. Eggs – Eggs in a nest :
Commonly known but mostly forgotten due to busy schedules and cranky kids. Make a hole in a bread slice (could be whole wheat), heat in a pan, crack an egg in the middle. Fun to look at and easy to eat! Poached eggs are good to add to sandwiches since kids might not like it as is.
2. Oats – Oatmeal pancakes :
Kids love pancakes! And it’s a pretty sneaky place to disguise the good stuff. Add oatmeal to your pancake batter, tumble in some mixed berries and serve up those pancakes for breakfast. To make it a little more fun, use big cookie cutters or pancake molds to create cute/funny shaped pancakes for kids. Needless to say that kids like fun-looking foods.
3. Fruits, juices & Yogurt – Smoothies and smoothie bowls with fruit and nut toppings :
Another great way to disguise veggies and fruits that your kids despise. The nutrition trio, banana-yogurt-honey form a common smoothie base. Now that you have the base, throw in whatever combinations of veggies and fruits your heart desires and blend it to a luscious smooth mixture. Say Kale-Pineapple, pomegranate-watermelon, orange-carrot-mango. The list is endless. Add frozen mixed berries to the base, along with pomegranate or cran juice and freeze the mixture in Popsicle molds. Nothing makes a kid happier than popsicles! And you’re happy too, because you know what exactly went into making it.
4. Fibrous Veggies – Healthy patties with fibrous veggies like carrots, celery, onions and crudites with guacamole :
You make chicken stock and strain it to take off all the veggies and use the liquid. Don’t throw the veggies, they have load of fiber in there. Blitz them, season and make it into patties to put in burger buns. What’s interesting is, u can add more veggies like corn and peas before blending the mixture, and no one will even notice. Instead of serving ranch with crudites or mayo in burgers, add guacamole. Tastier and healthier option.
5. Mixed veggies – Veggie Mac-n-Cheese, Whole wheat thin crust pizza with grilled chicken :
Sneak in some veggies like peas, broccoli, spinach and mushrooms in some of their favorite foods like Mac-n-cheese and pizza. Use fresh mozzarella for pizza because any cheese that says “processed” on the label has added fats. Keep the pizza whole wheat and thin-crust. Makes a big difference!
6. Potatoes – Sweet potato fries :
Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene. Even so, they are quite underrated. Make fries, loaded baked sweet potatoes, bake them and blitz to make a soup, add them to mac-n-cheese. The list goes on! Switch to the healthier side of potatoes. Make a mash or a hash.
7. Greens – Tangy green beans, Batter-fried spinach :
When it comes to green beans and spinach, kids make faces. Toss the green beans in mango chutney to make them tangy. Batter fry the spinach, add Cajun spices to the batter and see the kids loving it.
8. Nuts – Whole wheat cookies with nuts :
Keep roasted salty and spicy nuts in attractive or cartoon cookie jars on the counter or table. The kids will reach for it because they’re hungry all the time. They won’t remember there are chips at home if they’re full already. Add nuts while baking cookies, use whole-wheat flour. Grind the unsalted nuts and add to soups and smoothies.
9. Dairy & Bakery – Grilled cheese with avocado, Milkshakes with health drinks :
Now who doesn’t love grilled cheese! The gooey melty cheese appeals to every single person. We know it’s not the healthiest option but we can at least try to some degree. Add seasoned avocado, mashed or sliced to the grilled cheese. It’ll be gone in seconds!
10. Grains & pulses – Classic black beans with brown rice in a taco bowl :
We all know brown rice is healthier than white rice. To get kids to eat it, is a task! Add taco seasoning to the rice as well as the beans while cooking. Add diced, grilled chicken as an incentive. You can always throw in some sweetcorn with the beans. Instead of sour cream, use Greek yogurt. Kids will devour it.
There you go! Hope this helps you to start thinking about similar healthier options for kids’ meals.