It’s no secret that kids can be picky eaters. We all know someone who claims to have survived on grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken nuggets until they were well into young adulthood. However, if you pride yourself on healthy eating and try to avoid toxins and chemicals in your food, stories like that are cringeworthy.
When it comes to your own kids, it can be frustrating to cook whole foods only to watch them spit out every bite. It’s easy to worry whether your child is even getting filled up with the meager rations that they consume. As a parent, biting the bullet and buying a pack of Goldfish and American cheese can be tempting when your hungry child is cranky.
However, you can cook clean recipes that your kids will actually eat. It just takes a little knowhow.
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We know that you’re thinking that we just dissed chicken nuggets in the intro to this article. Well, we have a recipe that will help your kids eat minimally processed nuggets. You can even try to incorporate vegetables into this simple recipe.
·Raw organic skinless, boneless chicken
·Veggies like carrots, zucchini and cauliflower (optional)
Using a food processor, chop up the chicken until it resembles ground meat. Shape it into small, flat patties and cook in a skillet with oil until golden brown and cooked through. If you make the nuggets small enough, this will only take a few minutes on each side.
Chop up the veggies in the food processor and mix them in with the chicken before cooking. You’ll get bonus points if you shape the nuggets into hearts or stars with your fingers as you place them into the pan.
This doesn’t have to be a sugar-laden breakfast food. Pancakes can be doctored to contain lots of healthy ingredients. You can use whole-wheat flour or play around with other types of flours for gluten-free varieties.
Ingredients for basic pancakes:
·2 cups milk (or milk alternative like almond or hemp milk)
·3 TBSP melted coconut oil
· 2 cups flour (whole wheat, brown rice, oat flour, etc.)
· 2 tsp baking powder
· ½ tsp baking soda
· ½ tsp salt
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Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and add the coconut oil, egg and milk. Blend with a whisk until batter is combined and still lumpy. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. The skillet is ready when a few drops of water added to the skillet quickly sizzle and then evaporate. Make small, 2-inch pancakes for the perfect kid-sized finger food.
You can add any superfood to pancakes to make them more nutritious for kids. Some options to add to the batter are:
· 2 TBSP ground flax seeds
· 3 TBSP ground or whole hemp seeds
·4 TBSP shredded coconut
· 1 mashed banana
·Fresh or frozen berries
· Chopped apples or peaches
· Finely shredded zucchini
· Mashed sweet potato
Muffins are another way to pack beneficial nutrients into an enticing package. If it looks like a cupcake, kids are more likely to eat it no matter how many vegetables it contains. This recipe does have quite a few veggies and is low in sugar. You can use all whole-wheat flour or substitute rice flour.
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar lightly packed
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups zucchini, grated and placed in a clean dishtowel to wring out excess moisture
1 cup carrot, grated
1 cup crushed pineapple with juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly wipe coconut oil on the inside of a muffin tin, or use cupcake liners. Whisk together the oil, yogurt, sugars, vanilla and eggs in a bowl. Break up the grated zucchini with your fingers and add to the batter. Stir in the carrots and pineapple.
In another bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir to combine.
Fill each muffin cup with equal amounts of batter. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out relatively clean.
Place a can of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight. Don’t shake it. Remove it from the fridge after about 10 hours, and open it. Scoop off the fat that has risen to the top. Use an electric beater to whip the coconut “cream” into the consistency of whipped cream or icing. Add lemon zest, cinnamon or vanilla and spread on top of the muffins.
One More Tip to Get Kids to Eat What You Cook
If your kids help make the meal, they are more likely to eat it. Although handing your kid a sharp kitchen knife and allowing them to go to town seems daunting, there are safe and convenient ways to enlist their help in the kitchen.
Purchase a Montessori-style chopper, which allows kids to chop food more safely. Pull up a chair to the sink and have your child help wash the dishes. You can even compromise on the meal; have your child pick out one item from the fridge that he or she would like to eat, and make a big deal of placing it on the plate.
If you make an effort to involve your child in preparing the food, he or she will take ownership in it and try it more willingly.