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Easy Ways to Make Kid Foods Healthy

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A few ways to make meals healthy in a kid-friendly way.

Healthy Dinners Kids Will Love

For many kids today, the four food groups are pizza, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and mac 'n' cheese all washed down with sugary yogurt drinks and chocolate milk. For dessert, it's cookies, birthday cake, and candy. The more processed and less nutritious, the better. Forget vegetables and whole grains. They taste "yucky!" What's a well-meaning, but impatient mother to do? Try these five simple strategies for sneaking healthy ingredients into your child's favorite meals.

Sneaking in Nutrition

Instead of trying to introduce a new healthy food to your child, hide nutrient-rich ingredients in familiar favorites. To avoid getting caught, select foods that only subtly alter the taste, color, or texture of the dish. Adding pureed carrots and cauliflower to macaroni and cheese, for example, gives the dish a slightly creamier texture, but their color is camouflaged by the cheese.

The Old Way

Macaroni and cheese made with powder cheese and white flour pasta.

The Sneaky Way

Cook whole-grain macaroni in vegetable broth instead of plain water. Drain the pasta reserving one cup of vegetable broth. Transfer pasta and put it back into the pot. Lightly cook baby carrots and cauliflower and puree in a blender. Puree cooked carrots and cauliflower in a blender. Stir in pureed vegetables, shredded organic cheddar cheese, half of the vegetable broth to the pasta. The vegetables will add a sweet flavor and their orange color will disguise them as part of the cheese sauce.

If your child likes peas, lightly cook them and sprinkle on top or arrange in a smiley face once the pasta has been served.

The Old Way

Plain pizza bagel with tomato sauce and cheese.

The Sneaky Way

Missy Chase Lapine, author of The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals, suggests adding white bean puree to the sauce to pump up the protein.

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