Most moms agree: We all want our kids to eat healthy foods.
We want our kids to shun double-stacked bacon cheeseburgers in favor of sushi, and reach past potato chips and doughnuts for carrot sticks. And with good reason! As reported in this Gallup poll, we’re getting our 5-a-day of fruit and vegetables less than 60% of the time! This is obviously not good for our (or our kids’) long term health. Research has shown time and time again that providing our little ones with a super well-balanced diet while they’re young absolutely helps them to lead long, healthy lives as adults.
[bctt tweet=”Research has shown time and time again that providing our little ones with a super well-balanced diet while they’re young absolutely helps them to lead long, healthy lives as adults.” username=”ecocentricmom”]
Here’s the thing, though – actually getting them to eat kale chips, quinoa salads, and lentil burgers can be challenging. That’s why we put together this handy list of four healthy recipes that both kids and adults will love. Why do we love them? They’re not just full of delicious, kid-friendly flavors – they are also super charged with plenty of vegetables and fruit, making them fantastically nutritious. As an added bonus, they only take a few minutes to make and freeze! Here’s a peek at the recipes:
1. Pumpkin Soup
First on our list is a warming, creamy pumpkin and vegetable soup. Based on this great recipe here, the mild flavor of pumpkin is always a winner with kids. This recipe is so thick and tasty that they’ll most likely lick the bowl clean! This dish is perfect for kids of all ages, including babies tasting their first solids. We do recommend, though, that you modify the salt content for a younger baby.
Personally, we love to sneak in extra veggies to amp up the nutritional content. Carrots, zucchini, potatoes, and celery can all be thrown in to the pot, as can chickpeas to increase the protein content. In addition, kids won’t even know these healthy add ons are in there since everything is blended smoothly.
Pumpkin soup (makes about 8 servings)
- 6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock (organic, homemade, or no-MSG/reduced salt)
- 4 cups of 100% pumpkin puree
- 1 large onion, diced finely
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
- pinch of salt
- Optional: 1/2 cup fresh cream, but it’s just as tasty without!
- Toss everything into a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes (you don’t even have to stir!).
- Next, turn off the heat and let cool slightly before processing with a stick blender or food processor. If using, add the cream and swirl in just before serving.
2. Spaghetti bolognese
You might be thinking, “Yeah, but it’s just pasta and meat sauce. What’s so healthy about that?”
The secret here is amping the sauce with a heap of mixed vegetables. The tomato and beef flavors dominate without being overpowering. The rich color disguises many nutritional extras, even without blending or pureeing them. You can also serve it with wholegrain rice or even zucchini noodles, making it even healthier. Don’t forget that you can easily switch the minced beef in this recipe with cooked red lentils, or even go half-and-half and use a combination of lentils and beef for a lower calorie option. We’ve based our recipe off this fantastic one here.
Spaghetti Bolognese (makes about 4 servings)
- 1-2 tablespoons oil (your favorite choice-coconut oil works well here as does olive oil)
- 1 pound minced beef
- 1 large onion, diced finely
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 large zucchini, grated
- 2 large carrots, grated
- 2-3 cubes of frozen, chopped spinach
- generous handful of fresh mushrooms, diced finely
- 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- cooked pasta of your choice, to serve
- Pour a small amount of oil into a large pot and over medium heat, quickly cook the beef, breaking it up with a fork or wooden spoon as you go along, until you can’t see any more pink spots. Remove and place in a bowl.
- Gently fry the onion, garlic, and other vegetables in the pot juices until soft (around 5-7 minutes). Add the crushed tomatoes, cooked beef, and spices and cover.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
- Next, stir well and serve over freshly cooked pasta.
Foodies and health gurus have been extolling the benefits of smoothies and fresh juices for, well, ever. Though we might be quick to whip one up for ourselves, we sometimes forget that they are healthy recipes that kids love. As long as you add a funky swirly straw or make sure that the flavors aren’t too strong or tangy, your kids are guaranteed to slurp up every last drop.
What’s also great about smoothies is that they don’t have to include ice cream, cream, or even milk. Coconut milk, almond milk, and rice milk make excellent non-dairy substitutes that also add extra protein. You can also use frozen fruit in place of fresh – especially if some ingredients aren’t in season! Grab your blender, throw everything in, puree, pour, and watch their faces light up!
Here are a few of our favorite, kid-friendly combinations (based on ideas from these recipes) –
- Chia, strawberry, banana and kiwi: the chia seeds expand and make this lusciously creamy and thick, without needing to add milk
- Baby spinach, blueberry, banana and almond milk: get your kids a vitamin punch with this super-healthy combination
- Pineapple, mango, frozen cooked carrots and orange: lots of cold-fighting vitamin C in here! Recommended to add some Greek yogurt to up the thickness and creaminess (or toss in a banana instead).
Why not experiment with some of your favorite foods and see what new combinations you can come up with?
4. Chocolate Zucchini Applesauce Muffins
This is definitely one of those healthy recipes that kids love. They are rich, chocolatey, and pack a punch with added applesauce and zucchini! These gentles flavors blend so well with the cocoa that even the pickiest eaters won’t believe you when you tell them what’s in it. Our recipe is based on this one here. Also, it gets an upgrade by swapping 100% pure applesauce for the oil (which also cuts the calorie/fat count), making them a wonderful and healthy snack choice for your little ones!
- 3 medium eggs
- 1/2 cup sweetener of your choice (coconut sugar, xylitol, and date sugar work just fine-as does white sugar)
- 3/4 cup 100% pure, unsweetened applesauce
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 1/2 cups raw zucchini, shredded finely
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two, 12-cup muffin trays with paper or silicon cases and spray lightly with cooking spray.
- Combine all the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, sweetener) in a large bowl and mix well.
- Next, blend all the wet/damp ingredients in another. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet.
- Mix briefly until everything is combined. This isn’t a cake! The secret to great muffins is NOT to over-mix the batter!
- Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full and bake for around 18-22 minutes. Next, let cool for 5 minutes then turn out to cool completely.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these healthy recipes and swaps that kids love! What about all of those dirty dishes? Get your kids to pitch in and help you scrub up (by the way, this fantastic sponge can help take the hard work out of cleaning!). In the meantime, happy cooking!
Which recipe is your favorite?
A freelance copywriter and content strategist, Eden is also a crunchy, eco-mom to 4 healthy kids (under the age of 6!). When not busy writing, she loves getting her hands dirty by making her own yogurt, mixing homemade laundry detergent, or chasing her kids in the garden with a Super Soaker.