Sometimes children balk at eating new foods, particularly if they resemble vegetables or other healthy foods. You might be able to turn those “yuck”s into “yum”s by asking young chefs to help you in the kitchen. Kids tend to feel proud of their creations, so if they learn how to make foods that are as delicious as they are nutritious, you might find that you have veggie-lovers after all. Here are some simple and healthy recipes to try making with your children.
Flatbread Veggie Pizzas
What kid doesn’t love pizza? Instead of paying for someone to deliver salty, fatty, high-carb pizza to your doorstep, you can pick up a package of whole wheat flatbread and smother them with your own (healthy) toppings. First, toast the flatbread so it stays crisp. Use a reduced-sodium jarred marinara sauce, make your own, or just place some thinly sliced tomatoes down for this layer. Let your kids decorate their own pizzas with a variety of veggies: Try caramelized onions, wilted spinach, lightly sautéed mushrooms or bell peppers, sliced canned artichoke hearts (rinse them first to remove excess salt), or even canned crushed pineapple (pick the kind in juice instead of in syrup). Sprinkle with a little mozzarella cheese, and bake for a few minutes to melt the cheese.
If your child’s favorite meal is a juicy burger, he might be just as happy with a “burger” made out of a thick, meaty Portabella mushroom. Prepare the mushrooms ahead of time by wiping them with a damp paper towel (don’t submerge them in water) and removing the stems. You can broil these for a few minutes on each side. Either leave them plain or sprinkle with a little balsamic vinegar. Once the mushrooms are cooked, let them sit on paper towels for a few minutes to drain a bit, then let your child pile his bun high with mayo, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, sliced onions, cucumbers and whatever other toppings he loves. Don’t forget a slice of cheese! Add the “burger” and watch his eyes light up when he takes a bite.
Kids often love foods that they can dip, and it’s simple to serve up a kid-friendly fondue that adults will love, too. Have your child help you cut granny smith apples, carrots, broccoli florets and cauliflower into bite-sized chunks. You can make a cheese sauce in your fondue pot by simmering chicken broth, a little Worcestershire sauce and some garlic powder for a minute or two, then adding handfuls of cheese. You can use reduced-fat cheese if you prefer. Pick whatever your kids’ favorites are: Cheddar, Swiss and gouda are all great choices. Turn the fondue pot down to low and get to dipping! Because fondue is so fun to eat, your child will probably willingly gobble up lots of veggies. Sure, they’re coated in cheese, but the vitamins will remain intact.
You don’t need to resort to sneaking veggies into your child’s diet (though that is a good option, too) if you package them up attractively and make eating them fun. Start with your child’s favorite foods and see where you can substitute vegetables for the less-healthy parts, and go from there!