Healthy Meals Your Kids Will Love to Eat!

Fruit Kids Breakfast

Eating healthy is a challenge.

Getting kids to eat healthy can be–well, near impossible.

Since our family has been on special diets for such a long time, it’s probably easier for me than most, but I still do struggle.

My oldest son has life-threatening food allergies, so his diet has been restricted his whole life.  But my youngest is more easily tempted by the whole packaged and processed behemoth that threatens to undo all the nutritional groundwork I’ve laid in his life.

It’s pretty hard to turn down those soulful eyes and the Puhleeeeeeze at the grocery store when he finds a new goodie he’d like to try.

If you’re anything like me, it’s hard for you to find time or energy to pull together meals that will make your kids happy and be nutritious at the same time (and it’s true that healthier meals cost less money in the long run – and sometimes in the short as well).

So in the interest of helping all of you super-busy moms out there, I’ve put together an assortment of dishes and ideas that please my little processed-food-eating-wannabe son.

Hope they’ll make your little ones smile too!

Breakfasts

  • Fun Fruit Plate – You’ll probably want to supplement with protein, but the top photo shows how much kids love creativity at mealtime!
  • Quick fruit smoothie – a pretty easily formula is 1/2 cup milk or alternative, 1 cup frozen fruit, sweetener to taste, nuts or seeds, and a protein source.
  • “Healthy Sweets” – How about Bean Fudge for Breakfast?  Or Breakfast Cookies or even Healthy Puddings?  When it’s made healthy, there’s no reason to say “no!”

Dairy-Free Fudge

Bean Fudge

  • Baked Doughnuts - One of my son’s favorites.  Make them into doughnut shapes or be creative with free form or cookie cutters.

Lunches

fruit dip recipe

Nut Butter Fruit Dip

  • Breads with Fillings – My son loves my Focaccia Flax Bread or Whole Grain Quick Drop Biscuits slathered with Homemade Nut  Butter and a little (unless he dumps it on) sweetener on top.  You could even cut these with cookie cutters for fun-shaped sandwiches.
  • Wraps – Kids love anything wrapped.  Nut butters…bean spreads…you name it!  You can even use lettuce as the wrap shell for a way to sneak in veggies!

Dinners

  • Pasta – Whenever my son hears we’re having pasta, he jumps up and down!  Here’s a simple “Clean Out the Pantry” Pasta recipe that’s easy on mom and makes smiles all around.
  • Fast Food Take-Offs – We just love this recipe for Baked Chicken Nuggets.  Looks like a lot of time, but it isn’t.  Or how about hamburgers or nitrate-free hot dogs or homemade pizza?
Easy Chicken Recipe
  • Breakfast for Dinner!  Hey – if you can have fudge for breakfast, you can for sure have breakfast for dinner!  Eggs dishes, pancakes, our favorite Baked Oatmeal Cake and healthy breakfast meats!  You get the idea!

Above all, have fun.  In general, if your kids see you enjoying food preparation and enjoying healthy foods, they are more likely to enjoy them as well.

But for added help in your healthy eating quest, you just might want to leave them home when you grocery shop and turn the TV off.

Out of sight, out of mind.:-).

What’s your favorite healthy kids’ meal?

Adrienne, of Whole New Mom, is a wife and homeschooling mother of two boys, one of whom has Asperger’s Syndrome and life-threatening food allergies. She has a passion to help others navigate the sea of information on the road to healthier lives, while trusting God for the results of their efforts. Additionally, she is a blossoming food freedom advocate. Because she loves to (and can’t afford not to :-) ), she specializes in frugal living and simplifying special diets. You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

37 Responses to Healthy Meals Your Kids Will Love to Eat!

  • sarah says:

    this is great, thank you! A real favorite at our house chili mac, i add 1 cup puree veggies to sauce and puree beans for extra protien, certain beans give a cheese-like taste. End up with a meal that looks like gound beef, noodles in a redish thick sauce, always a pleaser and super easy.

    [Reply]

    Adrienne Urban Reply:

    @sarah, That sounds great! My son is deathly allergic to dairy so I will am eager to try this! Which beans give it the cheese-like taste? Thanks!

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    sarah Reply:

    @Adrienne Urban, pinto beans. Grocery mistake turned into a cheese-like treat! Another cheese-like accident happened when i made roasted red pepper hummus with garbanzo bean flour. Used it for a mock fondu dinner with ham chunks and veggies.

    [Reply]

    Adrienne Urban Reply:

    @sarah, Thanks for coming back over! I’m going to have to try that :-) !

    Becca Reply:

    @Adrienne Urban, if it’s okay for your diet, nutritional yeast flakes dissolved in oil give a cheese-like flavor to many foods, as well as adding protein, minerals, and B vitamins. Here are my tips for using nutritional yeast flakes.

    [Reply]

    Adrienne Urban Reply:

    @Becca, Thanks for the tips! I was staying away from nutritional yeast due to candida, but I am using it now. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness. Are you familiar w/ other diets that would not include nutritional yeast?

    Becca Reply:

    Some very strict vegans will not eat yeasts because they are, technically, very small animals. I am not sure if nutritional yeast is kosher for Passover. Other than that, I’m not aware of any diets that exclude nutritional yeast, but there are so many special diets these days that I can’t be sure!

    Danielle Reply:

    @sarah, I have added veggie puree to my sauces but had never thought of adding the beans. I am not much of a meat eater so I add beans to alot of dishes! Thanks for the great suggestion! Also would love to know what beans give a cheese like flavor?

    [Reply]

    sarah Reply:

    @Danielle, Pinto beans. My husband (no diet restrictions) asked if I put cheese in it……..he knows I haven’t bought cheese in over 4 years! I couldn’t believe the taste.

    [Reply]

    Adrienne Urban Reply:

    @sarah, Can’t believe it!

  • What a terrific post! Love all these healthier options.

    [Reply]

    Adrienne Urban Reply:

    @The Better Baker, Thanks for the kind words! It sure helps me feel better about what I’m giving my kids!

    [Reply]

  • Kim says:

    Spaghetti squash is a great main or side and if it is roasted sans water, it is so sweet! My kidddos love it! I saute left-over ss for breakfast or lunch. Yum!

    [Reply]

    Adrienne Urban Reply:

    @Kim, We LOVE spaghetti squash. I typically cook it in my pressure cooker to keep my kitchen cool. And it’s ready in about 8-10 minutes! We like it sauteed too! Thanks for the reminder!

    [Reply]

    Suzanne Reply:

    @Adrienne Urban,
    I love my pressure cooker, but have never used it for spaghetti squash….how do you do that?
    Do you put it in the steamer basket with water in the bottom? or just straight in the water on the bottom? What pressure level? Thanks for any tips! Sounds great!

    [Reply]

    Adrienne @ Whole New Mom Reply:

    @Suzanne, Technically, you are supposed to put it on the trivet (I don’t have a basket, but a stainless trivet), but I think you could just as easily put it peel side down in the water.

    I cook it quartered, on high for 8-10 minutes, depending on how soft you would like it to bed. It also works for butternut and acorn. Enjoy! It’s great to be able to have winter squash without using your whole oven!

  • Maggie Savage says:

    I’ve shared this all over the place Adrienne :) We ALWAYS need healthy meal ideas for our kiddies. Thanks for the inspiration!

    [Reply]

    Adrienne Urban Reply:

    @Maggie Savage, Thanks, Maggie. I do too! Thanks for the encouragement!

    [Reply]

  • We do appetizer nights so I make socca crackers for mini pizza and hummus is a big favorite here too with lots of veggies. This is a great list!

    [Reply]

    Adrienne Urban Reply:

    @Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen), Thanks! I’d heard of socca crackers but I didn’t know what they were! Just looked them up — yum!

    [Reply]

  • Rhonda says:

    Just read a recipe last night for mac and cheese made with cashews, so perhaps one can achieve that cheesy flavor and texture with cashews!

    http://renaeskitchen.blogspot.com/2010/04/super-cheesy-shells-n-cheese.html

    [Reply]

    Adrienne Urban Reply:

    @Rhonda, Great idea. I’ve read of a lot of cheesy recipes using cashews, but my oldest is allergic to them. Onward to new options!

    [Reply]

  • Amber says:

    Hi Adrienne,

    Love this post! My kids love all the classics (that I make at home with a GF, DF, and SF twist): mac and cheese, brownies, pizza, etc. But I have to say that we introduced veggies from the beginning with our kids. And we always have them on the table, lunch and dinner in some shape or form! So, many of my kids’ favorite dishes all include veggies!

    My son:
    roasted golden and red beets with orange and cranberries (recipe coming soon)
    Asparagus
    steamed green bean with homemade teriyaki sauce (recipe coming soon)
    and cucumbers tossed with mint oil (recipe coming soon)

    My daughter:
    pesto stuffed cucumber
    Raw carrot hummus
    sauteed Brussels sprouts with cranberries (recipe coming soon)

    Thanks for a great post Adrienne!

    Hugs,
    –Amber

    [Reply]

    Adrienne Urban Reply:

    @Amber, I can’t wait to see some of these! I have a pretty good B Sprouts recipe as well. But I’d love a new one. My youngest isn’t too thrilled w/ the one that I have :-) . And homemade teriyaki – yum!

    [Reply]

  • Love this post Adrienne! I too have some picky eaters in my household! I have 2 recipes to share with you that my girls love. Creamy Chicken Sandwiches and also Sprouted Chocolate Chip Cookies (not sure if your son can do those, i use soy, nut, dairy free chocolate chips).

    http://wholelifestylenutrition.com/recipes/maindish/family-friendly-fridays-creamy-chicken-sandwich-recipe/

    http://wholelifestylenutrition.com/recipes/dessert/sprouted-chocolate-chip-cookies-and-why-sprouted-flour-is-healthy-for-you/

    Can’t wait to try some of these recipes. Thanks so much for sharing!

    [Reply]

    Adrienne @ Whole New Mom Reply:

    @Halle (Whole Lifestyle Nutrition), These look great, Halle! I bookmarked them! Now I just need to get my upstairs printer hooked up and print all of these off, or get an e-recipe box :-) .

    [Reply]

  • Heather says:

    Great tips!

    [Reply]

  • Pinkoddy says:

    Thanks for a great post.
    You might like to look at the hibernation post on my blog where I made hedgehogs for dinner lol.

    My oldest has Aspergers so I know all too well how hard dinner times can be.

    [Reply]

    Adrienne Urban Reply:

    @Pinkoddy, Thanks for sharing. I just checked it. Very cute.

    Yes, dinner can be tough – mostly b/c my son’s eating habits aren’t the neatest. He’s not that picky for the most part. It’s just hard trying to make healthy meals on time :-) .

    [Reply]

    Pinkoddy Reply:

    @Adrienne Urban, Thank you for taking a look. I make a lot of meals that can be just warmed through – like Shepherd’s pie – but have to say my son’s eating has got much easier with age (he’s 16 this year).

    [Reply]

  • What wonderful kid-friendly ideas! I love the smiley banana!! We always enjoy healthy puddings / cakes for breakfast, they are such a great way to start the day. We don’t have any food allergies in our family, but when my son was little I used an idea of my Mom’s. I would make nut butter sandwiches cut out in circles with a cookie cutter and make faces on them using things like raisins, cucumber and even shredded carrot for hair.

    [Reply]

    Adrienne @ Whole New Mom Reply:

    @April @ The 21st Century Housewife, I love that idea, April! Shapes are great fun! Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  • Kate says:

    You are right! Kids love to dip anything! And they will eat anything in a tortilla wrap. I try to make things healthy for my kids all the time. I add black beans to taco meat. My kids eat fish- especially if they are in tacos! They eat fruits, veggies, even salads now. We do most of your ideas in our home, too.

    [Reply]

    Adrienne @ Whole New Mom Reply:

    @Kate, Tortilla wraps are a little harder to come by here since we are gluten free….but I need to remember to try. I have a few good recipes and a few “must tries”. Time to get them out again.

    [Reply]

  • Thanks for such a lovely post Adrienne.
    That opening photo is just GORGEOUS!

    [Reply]

    Adrienne @ Whole New Mom Reply:

    @Tess Masters @theblendergirl, Thanks! I just finally saw your comment. My son is asking for the same thing for his next birthday. Imagine – something so simple…..:-).

    [Reply]

  • Sarah says:

    Great ideas!! I have one child that eats extremely well and the youngest is super picky. We have no food allergies so I just keep offering different veggies to the little one hoping I will get a bit of nutrition in him. The win’s I have found for him is making chips with veggies- beet chips, kale and swiss chard chips, sweet potato “sticks” and even zucchini chips. Baking them low for a while, bit of olive oil, sea salt, and spices like smoked paprika and garlic. He LOVES them and will eat a ton of them :) I also puree veggies and add them into other foods,- especially desserts, and smoothies. Good luck!!
    I have also found that both boys like the refrigerated dried sardines- they are a tiny whole fish with nothing added but they retain the crunch and saltiness of the ocean. – not totally my style but they LOVE it.

    [Reply]

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