If you’re always looking for ways to make easy and healthy meals that even your pickiest of eaters will try, you’re not alone. While you might be able to fix a healthy meal for yourself, it can be a lot harder trying to bribe kids to chomp down on leafy greens. Not all healthy foods have to be bland though. If anything, you might find that you and your family wake up your tastebuds by switching to tasty healthy options.
Mixing up some tasty dips? Substitute nonfat Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream or mayonnaise and cut the calories to just a fraction without reducing the taste or texture. Just make sure you’re picking up the plain yogurt, not vanilla. You won’t make that mistake twice.
Some great dips to try include tzatziki sauce, a dill-and-cumber forward Mediterranean dip, and spinach dip, which is a classic favorite that gets lightened up when using Greek yogurt. Other healthy options include hummus and guacamole, both chock full of healthy fats. You don’t need to sacrifice flavor when eating healthy!
Pre-prepare veggies for quick snacks
One of the easiest things to do is grab something that’s already made. After a long day, it’s so much easier to open a cupboard and pop open a bag of crisps. If you’re reaching for a bag of snacks just because it’s crunchy and available, stop!
You’ve got those dips made, so now you just need something for dipping. No, not chips. Put those crackers back, too. Dehydrate vegetables by slicing them and cooking in a low-heat oven over a long period of time. Add some salt, and voila, dippable snacks! Since veggies take a long time to dehydrate, make a bunch at once and store them in airtight containers for snacking all month long. You have salty, crunchy delicious snacks without all the added calories of fried potatoes or corn chips. Alternatively, you can also invest in a food dehydrator: here’s a list of nine of the best dehydrators as decided by Good Housekeeping.
On days off from work, cut batches of fresh vegetables and fruits for easy grabbing when you and your family need a quick pick-me-up at snack time. Cucumbers, red bell peppers (the sweetest bell pepper option,) and carrots are great choices.
When picking out vegetables, aim to have a whole rainbow of colors. Typically, the more vibrant a vegetable or fruit is, the higher the level of vitamins and minerals. Green, for instance, is associated with higher levels of vitamin K while red fruits and vegetables are usually great sources for vitamin C and folate.
Not convinced? Let’s take a quick look at some of the vitamins associated with potatoes versus another root vegetable, the delicious carrot. A potato offers zero percent in terms of Vitamin A. The lovely carrot though? One medium carrot offers your entire daily need of Vitamin A, and then some! If you’d like to directly compare basic nutritional value of different foods, try Sparkpeople’s calculator here which is free and easy to use. It’s super handy!
If you’re still craving something salty and crunchy and dehydrated veggies just aren’t doing it, opt for something like lightly-buttered popcorn. You can make your own for movie nights, or even buy pre-popped cheesy popcorn in the chip aisle of the grocers. Is popcorn as densely packed with great nutrition as some other vegetable options? No, but it’s a fun and calorically light snack if you season it smartly.
Craving a cold dessert? Eating healthy doesn’t mean you need to silence your inner sweet tooth. Consider opting for a protein shake or smoothie and you’ll stay fuller, be less likely to snack, and get some of your necessary vitamins and minerals.
Many picky eaters, especially kids, aren’t too happy to eat protein-rich fish and meats. They might be changing their minds about getting enough protein if they get it in the form of delicious protein shakes. Add cocoa powder, bananas, or peanut butter, a scoop of protein from best whey protein UK, and blend it all up for a delicious nutrient-packed dessert. For the adults, add a little instant coffee or espresso and you’ve got yourself a mocha shake. Who needs ice cream now?
Going the fruit smoothie route? Throw in a handful of baby spinach and your body will thank you for the vitamins, but you won’t notice the taste at all. Older spinach does tend to get a bit richer in flavor, so save that for savory meals. Got some leftover Greek yogurt? Add that in with a bit of orange juice, a cup of frozen berries, a handful of baby spinach. Delicious and nutritious. Now that’s a dessert that is guilt-free.
Ancient Grains Spice up Dinners
Bored with having steamed veggies and grilled chicken for every meal? Mix it up! Ancient grains are making a splash in the grocery store recently, from quinoa to chia seeds. And hey, even if you can’t pronounce it, you can still cook it! Quinoa is packed full of protein and a great option if you want to skip rice or pasta. It can be hard to convince kids to try something new, so opt for one of these family-friendly recipes to give the grain a try.
If possible, to encourage your kids to consume a varied and healthy diet throughout the week, pack sack lunches. Not everything that your family eats has to be super healthy; a cupcake once in a while is great! Moderation is key. However, if you find that your kids are eating hot lunches 5 days a week, there’s a chance they’re munching on cheese pizza more often than choosing a salad. Consider some tasty options to keep them excited about their lunches. Peanut or almond butter on a rice cake is high in protein and good fats and isn’t the same boring PB&J we all know well.
Don’t drink your calories
An occasional glass of wine or cocktail can be fun, but avoid drinking sugary sodas and juices each day. They add up quickly, and can be very high in sugars. Instead, choose water or teas when you can. Keeping hydrated is one of the easiest ways to combat that snacky feeling.
A healthy diet is about being balanced, not about cutting out all sugar or all snack foods. With these healthy snack and meal ideas, even your pickiest eaters are headed towards the path of healthy eating.
What are you go-to family friendly healthy meals and snacks for your picky eaters? Let me know in the comments below!