Every parent knows it can be a challenge to get children 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 based in the US offers tips for upping the nutrients in family meals without your kids suspecting a thing.
Pack the meatloaf with vegetables. If meatloaf is a family favourite, 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 fibre, 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 flavour.
Italian favourites with added veggies. When 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 home. Instead 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 fibre. Serve with brown rice instead of white for even more nutrition.
Use the best ingredients. Choosing your ingredients with care makes a huge difference in nutritional value. “Vitamin B12 transforms food to energy that kids need to play and grow,” says Blatner. Have food that contain more vitamin D, which helps a child’s body absorb calcium, a mineral that bones need to stay strong and grow properly.