Every parent knows it can be a challenge to get kids to eat healthy foods. Serving piles of vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins might be our goal, but it might not guarantee that children will actually eat them.
Registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner offers tips for upping the nutrients in family meals without your kids suspecting a thing.
Pack the meatloaf with vegetablesIf meatloaf is a family favorite, you’re in luck. It’s easy to add finely grated vegetables like carrots into your meatloaf mix without anyone being the wiser. Carrots are loaded with nutrients such as fiber, potassium and beta-carotene. Or try adding minced celery, green peppers or spinach to meatloaf (or meatballs!) for a nutrition boost. You can also combine cooked lentils with your ground beef for a leaner meatloaf without sacrificing flavor.
Italian favorites with added veggiesWhen cooking Italian dishes like lasagna, adding chopped broccoli or spinach to one of your layers is an easy way to increase its nutritional value. Boost nutrition of jarred pasta sauce for any Italian dish by pureeing in your favorite cooked veggies like broccoli, carrots, squash or peppers without anyone noticing. This powered-up sauce is great for making homemade superfood pizza, too.
Asian stir fry at homeInstead of relying on Asian takeout meals, make stir fry at home. It’s quick and easy, and you can buy pre-cut chicken or beef to speed up your prep time. Get fresh or frozen veggies like sugar snap peas, grated carrots, broccoli florets and peppers and stir fry with soy sauce and a bit of ginger and garlic powder. It’s a high-veggie, craveable meal loaded with vitamins and fiber. Serve with brown rice instead of white for even more nutrition.
Use the best ingredientsChoosing your ingredients with care makes a huge difference in nutritional value. Blatner says that using Eggland’s Best eggs makes any recipe more nutritious, as they contain more than double the vitamin B12 when compared with ordinary eggs.
“Vitamin B12 transforms food to energy that kids need to play and grow,” says Blatner. They also contain more vitamin D, which helps a child’s body absorb calcium, a mineral that bones need to stay strong and grow properly, according to the National Institutes of Health. Compared to ordinary eggs, they have 25 percent less saturated fat, plus contain more than double the omega-3s and 10 times more vitamin E.
Try this family favorite recipe:
Baked Chicken Nuggets
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Recipe by: TermiNatetor Family Kitchen
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (roughly 1 pound total), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup breadcrumbs (Panko works too!)*
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour*
3 Eggland’s Best eggs (large)
Preheat oven to 450 F.
In a shallow bowl, whisk together breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and seasonings.
In two separate bowls, add the flour in one and whisk the eggs in the other.
Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly coat rack with cooking spray.
In batches, coat the chicken in the flour, shaking off excess, then in the egg wash, then in the bread crumb mixture, pressing to adhere.
Place on rack.
Bake until chicken is fully cooked, about 12-15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
*Dawn’s Healthy Swap: Use whole grain instead of regular bread crumbs and all-purpose flour.