9 Tricks to Serving Healthy Foods for Kids
Here are nine simple tips to help reduce empty calories (calories that provide little to no nutritional value) and fattening foods by incorporating real nutrients into your child’s diet.
If you haven’t checked out the nutrition label on the majority of breakfast cereals, do yourself a favor and get informed. Those mostly-processed cereals contain so much refined sugar and are typically low in protein and fiber. And a greasy breakfast cooked and fried in butter isn’t much better either.
Try out these banana pancakes as a healthy, go-to breakfast for the little ones. The only ingredients you’ll need are bananas, eggs, and peanut (or almond) butter. Talk about a tasty plate of food with a healthy punch of protein to help keep your child full and satisfied longer.
Supplement your Sandwich
Ah, the sandwich—a classic lunch beloved by millions (maybe even billions) of people. And this means there are enough variations of sandwich making to last a lifetime. Problem is, some of these sandwiches end up becoming a fattening, carb-packed lunch. Fortunately, there are plenty of sandwiches that contain healthy foods for kids.
Make sure you’re using 100 percent whole grain bread (I even like to go for a thin, whole wheat wrap instead), choose lean proteins like turkey or chicken breast, include a variety of brightly colored, fresh veggies such as spinach, sprouts, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers and always swap out unhealthy condiments like mayo for more flavorful, nutritious options such as avocado, hummus, or cranberry spread.
I dug up this simple grilled chicken pesto wrap recipe you can use as a base for healthy wrap creations.
Forget the French Fries
I know—this one hurts me as much as it does you. I’m not about to lie to you and say that French fries don’t taste like heaven exploded all over my taste buds. But the fact is these fatty treats are usually fried in unhealthy oils and drenched in salt, often making them far from healthy foods for kids.
Luckily, there are a lot of healthier variations to help you feel like you’re not missing out on the French fry goodness. This article offers 25 healthier alternatives to French fries and potato chips. I promise you’ll love some or all of these recipes. My favorites are the baked zucchini fries, baked sweet potato fries, and seasoned radish chips.
Get them to the Greek
This tip may be my favorite of all, because I think my greatest diet weakness may be those hearty, creamy, and totally fattening veggie dips. Because, for some reason, we always find it necessary to make something healthy…unhealthy.
The next time you’re making a veggie dip, spinach artichoke bake, or creamy casserole, substitute your sour cream or cream cheese for plain nonfat Greek yogurt. Not only does it lower the fat content considerably, it also increases the protein in your meal. And your kids probably won’t even know the difference.
Get your Greek on with this tasty green goddess veggie dip.
Sneak in the Flaxseed
The beauty about many of the most common healthy foods for kids is that they can be incorporated into your child’s regular meal without them even knowing. Take flaxseed for example.
If you were to make the banana pancakes I referenced earlier, it would be a simple nutrition boost to throw in ¼ cup of flaxseed. So while they’re getting in a nice serving of protein, you’re also mixing in the Omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseeds. Just make sure you’re using ground flaxseed (not whole) if you’re trying to keep the ingredient a secret—it’s harder to detect in meals and is also more easily absorbed by the body.
‘Egg’xactly what They Need
You can’t discuss healthy foods for kids without name checking the egg. It’s one of nature’s most simple, nutritious, and delicious foods. (And it’s one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D.) Oh, and you can prepare it in so many ways, you’re bound to find one your kids will enjoy.
And don’t forget that an egg has the same advantages I mentioned for sandwiches: you can pack this already-protein-heavy food with other super nutritious foods. Scramble in some onions, peppers, spinach, mushrooms, jalapeños, and avocado to get that extra punch.
Make the Most of your Mix Ins
A hearty meatloaf or a delicious bowl of spaghetti and meatballs can easily be made healthier by swapping fattening ground beef for leaner proteins such as turkey or chicken. But super salty, nutritionless fillers like seasoned breadcrumbs can just as easily be swapped out to make your turkey meatloaf even healthier.
Next time you’re making meatloaf or meatballs, toss the breadcrumbs and try using healthy binding agents like whole grain oatmeal or broccoli slaw. These ingredients do the same trick of holding your meat mixture together, but they also give it a heartier texture and add to the fiber content, helping your kids feel fuller longer.
A Better Sweet Treat
Cookies, cakes, and brownies—it’s no secret that none of these are healthy foods for kids. But all it takes is a little digging into the dark depths of the Internet to find simple ways to add some healthy ingredients to your kid’s favorite sweet treats.
Check out this amazing black bean brownie recipe. Yep, you read that correctly. This recipe not only uses cooked black beans instead of flour; it also uses light agave nectar (or honey) instead of white refined sugar.
I could go on for days about the importance of healthy foods for kids, but the fact of the matter is that nearly 40 percent of the energy consumed by two- to eight-year-olds come in the form of empty calories—those from solid fats and added sugars. Experts recommend that children limit the intake of empty calories to 8–20 percent of their daily caloric intake.
Why not take action and do the easiest thing for your children’s health by giving them a daily dose of nutritional supplements? USANA has excellent products designed to maintain and promote healthy development. TakeUsanimals™ for example. These easy-to-eat chewables support healthy growth and development with an excellent range of the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your child needs for healthy immune function, energy levels, bone support and brain development.*