First of all, get your kids to help creating menus, shopping, and preparing food. They are generally more apt to eat when they have made some decisions about the meals. You, of course, can guide their decisions. Look for children's cookbooks, which have kid-friendly recipes and basic cooking lessons.
In the summer, try to get your children interested in gardening. If they can see super sweet cherry tomatoes, strawberries, corn, or baby peas growing, then harvest them, that may get them more interested in vegetables and fruits.
You can try sneaking fruits and veggies into the foods you make, but I think it's a better idea to try to get them gradually used to eating more fresh foods. I know that sounds like a challenge, but their taste buds need to be 'trained'. Kids' taste buds are far more sensitive than adults, and many kids have a very strong negative reaction to bitter flavors, making foods like spinach, brussels sprouts, and asparagus really unpalatable.
Nutritionists say that most children need to actually see a new food four to five times before they'll even try it, so keep introducing those fruits and veggies. In our house when I was growing up, we had a rule: you had to taste every thing on your plate just once. Back then, I would NOT eat brussels sprouts or asparagus, even though I do like them now. Here are some more ideas:
- Try to focus on the sweeter 'good for you' foods, like strawberries, mandarin oranges, cherries, tomatoes, sweet peas, and corn.
- You can add some finely chopped fruits to gelatin salads, add some pureed sweet peas to guacamole, and serve tiny vegetables, like baby carrots and baby corn, with appetizer dips.
- I like using pureed fruits in desserts - even though they're desserts, you are getting some nutrition into your kids.
- Finely chop carrots and mix them into spaghetti sauce.
- Make some fruit breads - banana bread, pear bread, and apple bread are all good.
- You can also finely mince vegetables and add them to hamburger patties or turkey burgers.
- Puree corn and stir that into corn muffin batter, or make apple cake or pumpkin cheesecake.
- Also start making casseroles. You can start out with just pasta, cheese, and sauce, but then gradually add more finely chopped vegetables to the sauce. You can get some minced veggies into tuna or chicken salad as well.
I know these tips and ideas aren't permanent solutions, but you're trying to expand your child's tastes. Using sugar or adding finely chopped healthy ingredients to proven recipes are some of the best ways to do that.
Here are some recipes using fruits and vegetables that are kid-friendly:
- Frozen Strawberry Margarita Dessert
Sweet and cool, this recipe is a proven kid favorite.
- Frozen Strawberry Yogurt
Use other fruits in this recipe, and have your kids help make it. Then serve a scoop on ice cream cones.
- Cantaloupe Popsicles
Other fruits, like strawberries, peaches, mangoes, and raspberries will work in this recipe too.
- Mini Quiches
Kids love 'little' foods. Finely chop some carrots and add to these cute little pies.
- Praline Cranberry Dip
Leave out the dried cranberries and serve melon balls and strawberries for dipping.
- Dill Dip
This dip is a tried and true kid favorite.
- Beer Cheese Soup
This rich and creamy soup has finely chopped carrots and celery in it and you'd never guess.
- Bacon Cheese Soup
Are you seeing a cheese pattern in the soups? This is another creamy rich soup kids like.
- Crockpot Chicken Chowder
You can omit the onion and garlic for a milder soup if you'd like.
- Pineapple Bread
I love this easy bread; the texture is like cake.
- Pear Bread
This smooth and sweet bread is full of pears.
- Banana Bread
Classic banana bread is a perennial kid favorite.
- Apple Walnut Bundt Cake
This simple cake is full of finely diced apples. It's perfect for a snack or a lunch box!
- Sandwich Spreads
Finely chop the vegetables in these spreads and serve them on that new white bread that contains whole grains and your kids won't know they're eating healthy food!
- Crunchy Chicken Sandwich Spread
Omit the green onion and finely chop the red pepper in this delicious spread.
I hope some of these ideas help! I know it's tough to feed kids, but I think that you'll be able to make some changes if you start slowly and set small goals. And don't give up! It's important that your children know how to eat well for good health throughout life.