Tips to sneak more whole grains and veggies into kids' meals
Does every day feel like a war to get your child to eat vegetables and whole grains? As a parent, you understand the importance of nutritious eating. Your children, however, can be surprisingly stubborn.
Getting your child to eat better doesn't have to result in a battle of wills. Smart parents can use simple cooking hacks to increase nutrients in meals so kids don't even realize they're eating good-for-you ingredients.
Try these 10 ideas for sneaking in veggies and whole grains into your child's diet:
Super sauces: Pasta sauce is ideal for hiding some vitamin-packed veggies. For example, spaghetti sauce is already lycopene-rich, but try adding some carrot puree for an undetectable nutrient boost. For mac-and-cheese sauce, mix in pumpkin or squash puree. For Alfredo sauce, blend cauliflower puree.
Beefed-up meats: Add cooked quinoa or uncooked oats to meatloaf or meatballs to sneak in a hearty dose of whole grains. For sloppy joes, try chopping mushrooms and adding them in while you simmer the hamburger meat. The meaty texture of mushrooms blends right in.
Perfect pizza: Kids adore pizza, so pizza night is a prime opportunity for parents to choose a better option the entire family will enjoy. Freschetta Artisan Crust pizza is a restaurant-quality pizza you bake conveniently at home. With a hearty, preservative-free whole grain crust, it's a wholesome treat they'll gobble up. Learn more at www.freschetta.com.
Oatmeal sundaes: Give kids a healthy dose of whole grains to start their day with oatmeal sundaes. Whip up some instant oats and set out a variety of tasty toppings such as dried fruit, nuts and real maple syrup so they can create their own sundaes.
Popcorn pizazz: Popped corn is a fantastic whole grain that's a better option when you skip the salt and butter. Get creative and have kids brainstorm tasty combinations. Start with air-popped corn, then sprinkle on cinnamon and coconut sugar. For a savory snack, try grated Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning.
Fruity PB&Js: Some kids could (and do) eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day. Next time, try sliced fruit instead of sugar-packed jelly. Strawberries, blueberries, bananas and peaches are all fantastic substitutes. Just slice and layer between bread.
Better-for-you dessert: Satisfy your kid's sweet tooth with desserts that pack a produce punch. Carrot puree is an easy add to chocolate chip cookie dough. Zucchini bread and sweet-potato brownies will get devoured.
Green wraps: Want a fun twist on sandwiches and tacos? Swap bread and tortillas with lettuce varieties. Try blanching thicker greens like collards, kale or chard and pat dry before adding favorite fillings, then wrap and enjoy!
Pumpkin pancakes: In addition to sauces, that can of unsweetened pumpkin puree can add healthy nutrients to breakfast flapjacks. Add a few tablespoons to pancake batter and enjoy. Still have extra? Throw some into your breakfast smoothie for a creamy drink.
Creative casseroles: Hiding veggies in casseroles is incredibly easy. Simply shred zucchini or use spaghetti squash and layer it in with other ingredients. The mild flavor blends virtually without a trace while adding important vitamins and minerals to the dish.