Healthy Kids’ Meals Made Simple
How do you get your kids to eat new foods (and enjoy them)? It can be a big challenge. My general rule of thumb is: “If I’m eating it, then he can eat it, too. “ Of course, when you adopt this motto it also guarantees you’ll improve your own food choices. Healthy kids’ meals start to mean healthy parent meals, too.
The best I can do is offer my son nutritious foods we’re all eating—it gets him familiar with them and gives him plenty of good options. Plus, purées can be tricky lately, as he’s becoming a more independent eater. Now I choose foods that can be served in bite-size pieces that can be picked up easily.
It may sound surprising, but early on, broccoli was the perfect food for this since each floret can be made small enough. Even better, it’s loaded with nutrients, high in fiber and vitamin E, and out of all the green vegetables it’s the easiest to eat when you’re learning how to chew and swallow.
For starters, this Roasted Broccoli was simple to pop in the oven. The lemon juice and olive oil are mild flavor notes, making broccoli an easy-to-enjoy vegetable. Then I graduated to this recipe for Sunny Broccoli. The steamed florets are served on clementine slices, and the sweetness of the orange made it appeal to new taste buds—it went down easy.
My son eats best when we share dinnertime together because we’re all having the same dishes. It’s not always realistic, but I try to aim for an early supper. I usually offer familiar foods paired with new foods. This way he has something he already likes, as well as a new discovery.
I’m doing everything I can to avoid becoming a short-order cook, by accommodating different food preferences at the same meal. There’s no reason to develop these habits at a young age (especially in the interest of time and money). I never force my son to eat foods he doesn’t want, but he always knows that what’s being served is his only option if he’s hungry.
In the end, the best we can do for our kids is to make good meal-planning decisions and set good examples by eating well ourselves. A challenge, to be sure, but as families we’re in it together.
What are some of the recipes you like to share with your kids?
If your kids are still eating purées, how about trying these recipes for Asparagus and Broccoli Baby Food, Apple and Cabbage Baby Food, Curry Pea Baby Food, or Spicy Sweet Potato Baby Food.