Healthy and Fun Meals for Kids: Nourishing Now and Learning for Later

By Maria Rainier

Moms, you know it’s important to keep your family healthy. There are many different ways to do this, including exercise, spending time together, and keeping a clean home, but your family also needs to eat healthy food in order for everyone to feel their best. And that means providing healthy food now so that your kids will be learning how to feed themselves well once they’re on their own. The more you can get them involved in their own nutrition, the better – try looking at healthy online recipes together, taking a trip to the supermarket, or learning more about the USDA’s recommendations by checking out the interactive food pyramid. Teaching your kids to maintain healthy eating habits even after they’ve left home is one of the most important gifts you can give, and it helps to start at a young age. To get a head start on getting your young children interested in healthy eating, try some of the following fun meal ideas.

• Unsweetened Instant Oatmeal – This isn’t very appetizing to kids, so add some raisins or other fruit like apples or bananas. A sprinkling of cinnamon also adds to the flavor, and if you’re feeling creative, you can make a face with banana slices or raisins for eyes and an apple slice for the mouth.
• Egg in a Basket – Use a round cookie-cutter to remove a piece from the middle of a slice of bread. Use an olive oil spread on both sides of the bread, place it into a hot skillet, and break an egg into the hole. Wait until the egg is mostly cooked, then flip the bread and let the other side cook. This is a fun breakfast for kids because of its novelty – add low-fat yogurt and fruit to round things out.

• Healthy Sandwich – Instead of white bread, American cheese, and lunch meat, try this substitute. Use whole wheat bread, flatbread, pita, or even tortillas as the base of your “sandwich” and add fresh veggies like cucumber and tomato slices and green leaf lettuce. You can use light mayonnaise and mustard, as well as condiments like pickles if your child prefers them. For meat, try lean turkey or chicken that’s free of nitrates and nitrites.
• Cold Pasta Salad – Use whole wheat noodles, fresh veggies, and lean meat like chicken to make a tasty pasta salad that can be put into a Tupperware container for easy lunchbox transportation.
• Fruit with Yogurt Dip – Cut up some apples and add a few grapes, include a cup of low-fat vanilla or other flavored yogurt, and throw in some nuts for good measure.
• Chips and Salsa – Corn chips are a great healthy snack, and most salsas are low in fat, so your child can choose one that appeals such as tomatillo or black bean for a break from the norm.

• Meatloaf Muffins – Kids love novelty, so the next time you make meatloaf, put it into a muffin pan. To keep it extra healthy, use whole wheat bread crumbs, lean hamburger meat, and finely chopped carrots and onions. Serve your “muffins” with light mashed potatoes (use reduced fat soy milk and olive oil spread) and fresh seasonal veggies or a salad.
• Soft Chicken Tacos – Chicken is a nice lean meat, and corn tortillas are a great healthy choice as well. Add sautéed veggies like green peppers, tomatoes, avocadoes, and onions, then finish with light sour cream and cilantro. Serve these tacos with sides of salsa and brown rice to fill out the meal.

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various online programs and blogging about student life issues. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Do you have any fun meal tips to help keep little ones happy and healthy? Please share them by leaving a comment on this post.

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