It’s no secret that most kids don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Children’s taste buds are more sensitive than adults’, so bitter tastes and dry textures are less appealing. They prefer processed, chemically flavored foods over healthier, “real” options.
But with childhood obesity on the rise, you know how important it is to introduce healthy eating habits at a young age. The good news is your child’s palate can adapt after just a few taste-tests. If you’re trying to sway your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, little “green” lies can help you sneak them in without a struggle. Disguise good-for-you greens with these healthy cooking secrets and recipe ideas:
Purée-fy sweet treats. Puréed fruits and vegetables can be easily added to baked goods. This not only adds nutrients but it also creates a nice, creamy texture – great for cakes, muffins, breads, brownies and cookies. While some recipes actually require fruits and vegetables (think zucchini bread and carrot cake), you can add purées to other desserts and dishes for a nutritious boost.
Try it: Brownies with a Boost
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
½ cup carrot puree
½ cup spinach puree
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
¾ cup oat flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Directions: Preheat oven to 325˚F. In a large bowl, mix together melted chocolate, vegetable purees, sugar, cocoa powder, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Whisk in egg whites. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well. Pour batter into a greased 8×8-inch baking pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.
Get saucy and spread the love. There are some comfort foods kids constantly request. Unfortunately, they rarely fall into the “healthy” category. To trick your kids’ taste buds, incorporate fruits or vegetables into their favorite dishes with sauces, spreads and other toppings. For example, drizzle fresh blueberry sauce over pancakes instead of syrup. Here’s an easy, “green” recipe you can use as a dip or sandwich spread:
Try it: Greener Guacamole
3 medium avocados, peeled and pit removed
1 cup sweet pea purée
½ green bell pepper, diced
Fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Scoop out avocado “meat” and add to a medium bowl. Mash the avocados and mix in sweet pea puree. Fold in diced bell pepper. Squeeze in fresh lime juice and add salt and pepper to taste.
Shape up. Sometimes, just the way food is arranged can increase its appeal factor. Sliced, diced or creatively cut fruits and veggies can be shaped into happy characters or kid-friendly items (boats, bugs, etc.) that transform basic lunch box meals into a fun (and healthy!) eating experience. Your little one will be pleasantly surprised – not to mention the talk of the table. They can pitch in, too! Letting kids play with food is OK when they’re being creative and learning that even healthy foods can be fun. This lady bug sandwich is totally buzz-worthy:
Try it: Lady Bug Lunch Box
- Craft a tasty sandwich (PB&J, turkey, veggie, etc.) and remove the crust.
- Cut the sandwich to form the body of the lady bug – don’t forget to include its head.
- Take one large, round slice of cheese and lob off a small portion to create a straight edge – these will be its “wings.”
- Slice the cheese down the middle to separate the wings; then cut out holes to make the trademark spots.
- Use olive slices as eyes and watch the lady bug take shape.
This article has been provided by the folks at Vitacost.com. Offering more than just vitamins and supplements, Vitacost.com has a wide selection of over 35,000 organic, natural products for your healthy lifestyle. From organic foods and bath & beauty items to sports nutrition favorites and pet essentials, Vitacost.com has your needs covered – for less! Take your shopping list to Vitacost.com and take the cost out of healthy living. Vitacost.com is not affiliated with this blog and isn’t responsible for content outside of this article.
By: +Elizabeth Lotts writer for Vitacost.com