Although some kids will eat whatever is put in front of them, many parents find themselves in a battle over getting their children to eat a balanced diet. Rather than argue or fret, find creative ways to get children to eat enough fruits, vegetables, protein and whole grains. Don't give up on your kids eating healthful foods. In an article on the Parenting website, pediatrician Claire McCarthy says that some children need to be offered vegetables many times before they accept them.
Spaghetti is a favorite among many families so take advantage of the sauce to add nutritious vegetables and protein. Puree steamed vegetables and add them to the tomato sauce to increase the nutritional value of the food. Zucchini, pumpkin and squash are easy to hide, and they are all loaded with vitamins. Start out by adding 1/2 cup of one pureed vegetable to the sauce, then add more as your family will allow. Add low-fat ground beef, shredded chicken or diced tofu for protein and whole wheat pasta to round out the meal.
Some picky eaters will try something new if it's on a stick with foods they already like. Line up chunks of chicken with bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and celery for a colorful medley of nutritious foods.
Another meal-on-a-stick option recommended by the Parents website is a lineup of pizza-type foods. Try skewering Canadian bacon, tomatoes, mozzarella chunks, focaccia bread and anything else your children like on pizza.
Sandwich lovers can enjoy a nutritious meatball sub. Puree a serving of steamed vegetables and add it to the meatball mixture before cooking. Simmer the meatballs in a blend of red Italian sauce and low-sodium vegetable juice for even more nutritional value. Add some shredded cheese to the sandwich and you'll have a healthful meal for the sandwich-loving kid.
Works of Art
The Kids Meal Ideas website recommends turning meals into works of art. Dress up baked potatoes with cheese and vegetables to make them look like animals. Use cookie cutters to give bread items a new shape and provide colorful vegetables for the kids to decorate them. A funny face meal can be a serving of mashed potatoes flattened and shaped to look like a face. Add bite-size pieces of meat for eyes, green beans for a mouth and a carrot or tomato for a nose.
Finicky eaters might be willing to try a mini meatloaf designed just for them. You can make mini-loaves or form them into simple shapes on a baking sheet rather than in a single loaf. Puree vegetables and mix into the meatloaf to add more nutrition to your child's meal. Serve the mini meatloaf with mashed potatoes and a fruit salad.