Sometimes it is hard finding kid-friendly recipes that also contain healthy ingredients. That’s why we pulled together a list of our favorite (kid-tested and mom-approved) kid-friendly recipes.
Kids Favorite Meals
Kids have their favorite foods and most kids will opt for a cheesy pizza or chicken strips instead of a salad when offered, so the key is, making kids favorite foods healthier. I set out to create healthy recipes for kids and started with all their favorite foods.
I don’t deny my kids chocolate brownies since I have found a recipe that they love even though it includes 6 cups of baby spinach and 2 whole carrots! A different consistency but with a little chocolate icing and offered as a school lunch snack, your kids will be the envy of others when they get chocolate brownies everyday!
Although I may refuse to buy a box full of artificial cheesey flavours and plain noodles to serve as a meal, my kids still regularly eat macaroni and cheese – except ours is full of squash, zucchini and cauliflower. Mix and match the vegetables you use in the real cheese sauce and always use whole grain noodles. They will come back for seconds, I promise.
And what is a weekend breakfast without pancakes? Problem is pancake mix is void of any real nutrition, so I grill up oatmeal pancakes every weekend full of whole grain oats. This recipe doesn’t have any flour, only oats, flax, oat bran and then you can add in wheat germ, hemp seeds or your favorite grain with banana’s or chocolate chips. A protein and fibre packed hearty breakfast on the weekends and if you freeze leftovers, they cook up perfect in the toaster on a school morning.
Rather than not allow my kids to enjoy their favorite foods, I have found kid friendly recipes that I am happy to serve every week and my kids actually request them. Healthy recipes for kids don’t have to include complicated ingredients only found in specialty markets, it can be as simple as making your own pizza instead of buying frozen or substituting applesauce for oil in their muffins.
Small Changes to Kids Favorites
Teach your kids how to make chicken fingers from scratch using real chicken and whole grain bread crumbs mixed with a little parmesan cheese and garlic, puree vegetables and add it to a jar of store bought sauce on your next spaghetti night and switch to frozen yogurt topped with banana and berries for dessert instead of traditional ice cream. Explaining why adding healthy ingredients is important and can help them make a lifetime of good food choices as they grow.
Subtle healthy upgrades can turn kids favorite foods into Mom-approved healthy family favorites!
Our Favorite Kid-Friendly Recipes
2 cups milk
½ cup oat bran
¼ cup ground flax
¼ cup hemp seeds, bran, wheat germ or flax
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten
Chocolate chips if desired
Mix oats and milk and let it sit for at least 10 minutes to soften oats. Mix oat bran, flax, hemp seeds, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon and baking powder then add to oatmeal mixture. Add egg, oil and chocolate chips and mix well. Pour small ladlefuls onto heated griddle. These are very filling pancakes, so make smaller than regular pancakes. Makes 16 pancakes.
Macaroni & Cheese
whole wheat noodles
¼ cup butter
1 onion diced (my kids prefer no onions)
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar
½ cup pureed squash
½ cup pureed zucchini/cauliflower or carrots (light or orange coloured vegetables hide nicely in the cheese sauce!)
Cook noodles as directed on package. In a separate pan or skillet, melt butter and add onion, cooking until soft. Add flour and mix into melted butter. Slowly pour in milk and stir often as milk heats up and flour dissolves. Add cheddar cheese, and pureed vegetables, stirring until mix comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool slightly to thicken. If it’s too thick add more milk. Add only what you need to noodles, I find I have left over sauce. It freezes really well and makes the next batch of healthy Mac & Cheese super simple!
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
½ cup pureed carrots or cauliflower
½ cup pureed spinach (steam/boil down 6 cups baby spinach)
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp margarine or butter
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat an 8×8-inch baking pan with cooking spray & dust with extra cocoa powder. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or over a very low flame. In a large bowl, combine the melted chocolate, vegetable purees, sugar, cocoa powder, margarine, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in egg whites. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips with a wooden spoon. Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan before cutting.