Get Your Kids To Eat! - Erin and Aaron RE/MAX Hallmark Chay Realty Brkg.

Erin and Aaron RE/MAX Hallmark Chay Realty Brkg.

REALTOR®️ | Entrepreneur | MCNE Specialist | SRS | MRP

Monday, 22 May 2017

Get Your Kids To Eat!

Healthy dinner hacks that your kids (hopefully) will eat

If you're anything like me, you struggle to find healthy, easy, and appealing dinner options that your family will be happy to eat. It's so hard to please everyone, especially little ones whose tastebuds aren't quite as mature as ours. When you've got picky eaters and allergies or intolerances to account for, it can get down right difficult! I figured I'd share a few of my go to meal ideas, with the hopes of inspiring others, and helping with those dinner time battles.
I strive to create healthy meals for my family, with lots of veggies to keep them growing and ward off illness. Of course, many children aren't fond of a variety of veggies and fruits, so I take every opportunity I can to hide them! Frozen butternut squash, canned pumpkin purée, finely chopped kale, minced mushrooms, grated zucchini, and grated carrot, these are all things I slip into my dishes and the kids are none the wiser.

My kids love pasta, especially macaroni & cheese. I love to steam frozen butternut squash cubes and stir it into the sauce, adding fibre and vitamins C, A, and E. You can also add puréed pumpkin, a good source of beta-carotene and vitamin A. To keep the sauce a little lower in fat, I make a roué and add milk and chicken stock (rather than heavy cream), and I use a sharp cheese like old cheddar, which allows me to add lots of flavour without using as much cheese. There are lots of options out there for "healthier" noodles, depending on whether you're trying to avoid gluten, carbs, etc. You can choose quinoa based noodles, spelt noodles, rice noodles, whole wheat noodles, I often choose an Italian brand that I know has very few ingredients, even if it is higher in carbohydrates.

When making spaghetti sauce, I finely chop kale and mushrooms, grate zucchini and carrots, sautée with a bit of oil, and then throw in the tomato sauce, giving us a vitamin packed nutritious sauce. If your kids are super sleuths, you could easily purée the veggies in a blender prior to adding them to the sauce. Whenever I make pasta, I like to pair it with a salad full of veggies I know my kids will eat, cucumbers, avocados, celery & tomatoes. Make your own oil & vinegar based salad dressing, there are tons of delicious flavours available at Barrie Olive Oil, or read the labels on the bottles at the grocery store to make sure you're choosing a healthy option for your family, not one full of mysterious ingredients.

Tacos are a huge hit with kids, and I don't waste the opportunity to inject a little more nutrition in one of their favourite meals! Throw in finely chopped kale and minced mushrooms once you've drained the excess fat off the ground meat in the pan. It will cook up nicely with your meat ( I often choose chicken for a leaner meal). I sometimes add frozen corn kernels to the pan, just to add variety. You can even stir in puréed squash, that will be masked by the taco seasoning. While I'm on the topic of seasoning, have you switched to a homemade Mexican seasoning yet? If not, I highly recommend it. I was horrified when I checked the sodium content of the typical taco seasoning packet. By following a simple recipe, I was able to make a bulk jar of seasoning, saving me time in the future, money (much more cost effective than purchasing a packet each time), and far healthier because I don't even add any salt to mine. Here's a great recipe I follow, omitting the salt and adding very little red pepper flakes.
When building your tacos, offer healthy options like Greek yogurt, in place of sour cream, and guacamole made from avocados rich in nutrients and vitamins. Don't forget the salsa to get that metabolism going!  Occasionally, we switch it up and have fish tacos instead, I choose a white fish, bake it first, then serve it with coleslaw made with a Greek yogurt dressing, chopped mango and red peppers, cooked corn, and of course, guacamole.

Does your family have a pizza night? We love it here, and the kids especially love when it's make-your-own pizza! If I'm in a rush I purchase the pre-made flatbreads, but when I'm on the ball I make whole wheat dough in our bread maker, it tastes amazing and there are so few ingredients, you don't have to worry about the unpronounceable list found on many grocery store varieties! If you have the time, steam some frozen  squash, roast some peppers, grate some zucchini and you can blend it all in to your tomato sauce for a delicious, healthy sauce your kids will gobble up. Make lots and keep it in jars, on hand in your fridge for the next time you make pasta. Provide lots of yummy ingredients for them to top their pizzas with, and once baked, serve with a side of carrot and celery sticks for a well balanced meal.

My kids haven't quite got on the smoothie train, and I sure wish they would, it's such an easy way to pack nutrients and vitamins into a tasty beverage.

I have, however, won them over with soups! Chicken noodle, vegetable, and even broccoli soups, all made from scratch. I once made a double batch of broccoli soup, and we devoured the entire pot in one sitting! Fortunately, it was a healthy version that I found in a great cookbook,  'Eat, Shrink & be Merry' by Janet & GretaPodleski.  I threw in a few additional veggies like celery and carrots, and you can definitely add puréed squash or kale (again!) to make it really nutritional. The soup is a stock base, rather than cream, and I stirred in Greek yogurt just before serving, to add creaminess and protein. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese to win the kids over, serve it with some whole wheat garlic bread, and you've got yourself a great meal.

Looking for another meatless option? We love vegetarian chilli, and I love how easy it is to prepare. I make mine in the crockpot, throwing in all the ingredients in the morning, for a delicious dinner ready when we are. Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, corn, yellow peppers, diced tomatoes, celery, onions, and tons of spices combine with tomato sauce and vegetable stock to make a flavour packed meal. When picking out your canned goods, choose the ones that say low sodium, or no-sodium added on the label. I add a dollop of Greek yogurt to each bowl, some grated cheddar cheese, and sliced avocado to make it super tasty (bonus, it also helps cool the kids' portions!). If you're worried about fats, you can omit these, but in my experience, the kids love it!

Here's my last healthy hack, as we head into summer barbecuing season. When preparing hamburgers, choose to make your own. It's super simple, very cost effective, and a much healthier option. Select extra lean ground meat (beef, turkey, or chicken), to the meat add grated zucchini to keep the patties moist and flavourful. Instead of reaching for breadcrumbs, choose rolled oats to help bind your burgers, adding fibre. When serving your burgers, offer healthy toppings like sliced tomatoes, lettuce, low sodium pickles, and sliced avocados. Lastly, for added fibre, you could serve your burgers on whole wheat buns. Serve with a side of coleslaw with chopped apple and raisins, dressed in homemade Greek yogurt dressing, and you've got a delicious delicious back deck dinner!

Hopefully these ideas help with some of those tricky meal times. If you have a great recipe that gets your family eating healthy options, leave it in the comments below, we'd love to hear it!
Until next time, happy cooking, and good luck at dinner!


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