As the mother of a toddler, I know that it's often hard to get your kids to sit still, especially long enough to eat a healthy meal. Having a picky eater makes the task that much harder. Creating delicious and nutritious kid friendly meals can be easy. Here are some suggestions for meals and snacks that kids will love.
Start Your Kids' Day Off Right
A great start to the day is a healthy breakfast. Give your kids the energy they need to be alert and partake in the activities ahead. In the winter, it's wonderful to fill their bellies with something warm. I prepare gluten-free rolled oats — made fresh, not instant. There are varieties that can be made in as little as 5 minutes or as long as 20 minutes. Use water instead of milk for a lighter version, and top the oats with fresh antioxidant-rich berries, such as blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. Sprinkle a little cinnamon or drizzle 100 percent pure maple syrup for a touch of sweetness.
When you're planning for mornings when you'll need to feed your kids on the go, bake healthy banana bread the night before. This is a great way to use ripened bananas. Slice the bread, and top with butter or jam for a breakfast on the run.
Refuel Your Kids with a Protein-Packed Lunch
After a busy morning, it's important to refuel with a yummy and fuss-free lunch. If you're packing lunch to go, pack in the protein with a homemade sandwich. Chicken salad is a great way to use up leftover roasted chicken from last night's dinner. Plus, it's already infused with tons of flavor. Cut the chicken into small chunks and add light, organic mayonnaise or low-fat plain yogurt. Spread the mixture on whole wheat bread or stuff it into a pita pocket for a delicious and easy kid friendly meal. Slice some grape tomatoes on the side for added vitamins and nutrients.
Dinner Time Is Family Time
Trying to get your family to sit together for one meal a day may try your patience, but with a delicious homemade dinner, you'll have them around the table in no time. Health Magazine reports on studies that show that families who eat together eat healthier foods, eat more fruits and vegetables, are less depressed and do better in school.
My family loves chicken parmesan. Buy 6 thinly sliced chicken breasts. Wash them, and pat them dry. In a bowl, beat 2 egg whites until frothy. Fill another bowl with whole wheat bread crumbs. Add a pinch of salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning for flavor. In a large frying pan, heat an organic cooking oil, such as canola, until it sizzles when splashed with water. Coat the chicken breast in the beaten egg, and roll it in the breadcrumbs. Fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through. Ladle the bottom of a casserole dish with low-sodium marinara sauce, and lay the fried chicken on top. Spoon more sauce on top of the chicken. Sprinkle Parmesan bake in the oven at 400°F for 15-20 minutes and add the parmesan cheese on at least 10 minutes before the chicken is done. Serve warm over pasta. I like to serve this with crunchy, baked kale chips for a healthy food that your kids will munch up!
Snacks That Hit the Mark
Include one or two healthy snacks throughout the day. I love serving a low-fat yogurt parfait with nuts and berries, a fresh fruit smoothie or green juice made from kale, spinach and Swiss chard. Try to avoid high-sugar foods and juices that may lead to tooth decay and processed foods that are high in sodium and sugar. Limiting salt and sugar is easier to do at home. Substitute grated apples, agave syrup and even cinnamon for sugar to add flavor to a dish. Sneak in healthy foods with mild flavor — kale, for example — to snacks and meals such as lasagna.
Preparing kid friendly meals at home will keep you and your kids on track for a lifetime of good eating habits.