5 Healthy Recipes You Can Make with Your Kids
For parents of picky eaters, the kitchen table can often feel more like a battleground than a safe haven.
“Getting your kids involved in the kitchen can be a great way to break down some of that resistance and introduce them to new and healthy foods,” says Leah Pryor, executive chef at The University of Vermont Medical Center and founder of its Culinary Medicine program. “It gives them a sense of ownership and pride in the meal they prepare, which can go a long way to helping them expand their dietary horizons.”
Alison Precourt, RD, a clinical dietitian, says cooking with your kids is also a great way to have fun and create shared experiences together.
“It can help kids to realize that the kitchen can be a place where they relax and unwind, rather than battle with you over the food they’re going to eat,” Precourt says. “Ultimately, this can help your kids develop healthier eating habits and ease some of the burden you face at meal time.”
You can get your kids involved by encouraging them to:
- Break up or cut soft foods using their hands or a butter knife
- Measure, pour and mix ingredients
- Shape soft foods like meatballs
- Spread ingredients on top of meals like pizza. This is a great way to increase vegetables in your meals, especially when your kids can experiment with different, delicious combinations.
“It’s a great way to get them excited about food and eating well,” Precourt says. “This is important because developing healthy eating habits at a young age makes you more likely to maintain these habits as an adult. This goes for eating, but also for the other pillars of good health like getting exercise, plenty of sleep and limiting your screen time.”
To get you started, Pryor and Precourt whipped up these family-friendly recipes for your next meal.
Turkey Meatballs in Savory Tomato Broth
Ingredients for Sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon fennel
- ¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
- 2 14.5-ounce cans chopped tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Ingredients for Meatballs
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 large eggs
- 1¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 pound ground turkey
- Bread or buns for sandwiches (Alt: spinach or whole grain pasta)
- Make the sauce: In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, oregano, thyme, fennel and hot pepper flakes; cook about 1 minute.
- Stir in tomatoes, stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Make the meatballs: Heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat; sauté onion until translucent. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, salt and pepper with a fork. Stir in cooked onion, breadcrumbs, cheese and parsley. Add turkey and mix until combined. Form mixture into 1-inch balls.
- Add meatballs to simmering tomato broth as you make them. After the last is added, continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over grilled bread, sautéed spinach or whole grain pasta.
Yield: Makes 4 Servings
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup onion, diced
- ½ cup celery, diced
- 1 cup carrot, diced
- 1 cup green beans, cut into ½ pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can (15 ounce) of petite diced tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- ½ cup ABC’s pasta
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, green beans and garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and beginning to soften, 2 to 4 minutes.
- Add stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
- Stir in pasta. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta and vegetables are tender; 8 to 10 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper. Garnish each serving with Parmesan cheese.
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Ingredients for Dumplings
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ pound of shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
- 2 cups cabbage, shredded
- 1 carrot, shredded
- ⅓ cup scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
- 8 ounces firm tofu, drained and crumbled
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- cornstarch for dusting
- 1 (14-ounce) package dumpling wrappers
Ingredients for Dipping Sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Instructions for Dumplings
- In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over medium–high heat.
- Add the mushrooms. Cook until golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.
- To the same pan, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and heat over medium–high heat. Add the cabbage, carrots, scallions and ginger. Cook, stirring, until wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms.
- Finely crumble the tofu into the bowl with the vegetable mixture.
- Add the soy sauce and sesame oil, and mix well.
- Cover a baking sheet with plastic wrap and dust with corn starch.
- Wet the edge of a dumpling wrapper with water. Place about 2 teaspoons of the tofu-mushroom filling in the center and fold to form a half-moon shape.
- Press the edges to seal well. Place the sealed dumpling on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining fillings and wrappers.
- Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.
- Working in batches, place the dumplings one at a time in the pan in a single layer. Add about ¼ cup of water and cover. Cook until the water has evaporated, the bottoms of the dumplings are golden and the wrappers are fully cooked and somewhat translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Serve the dumplings with the dipping sauce
Instructions for Dipping Sauce
- In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar, until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the ginger and sesame oil and stir to combine.
Yield: Filling for 14-ounce package of dumpling wrappers.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Makes 2 Servings
- 1 medium frozen banana
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk or other nut milk
- ⅓ cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
- ⅓ cup canned pumpkin puree
- ⅛ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 to 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- Place all ingredients in a blender.
- Blend at medium speed until smooth.
Serve with fresh fruit.
- 1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ⅓ cup tahini
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup of water
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
- Place chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, water, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and salt in food processor. Process, scraping down the sides as needed, until smooth.
- With the motor running, add melted chocolate and process until combined.
- Serve with fresh fruit.
Crowd Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole
This recipe is a perfect midweek recipe.
For the Tex-Mex spice blend:
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika OR 1/2 tsp regular paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more as needed
- 1 ¼ teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
For the Casserole:
- 1 ½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 orange bell pepper, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1 cup tomato sauce or tomato puree
- 2-3 cups chopped kale leaves or baby spinach
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups cooked wild rice or brown rice
- 1/2 cup vegan shredded cheese (or shredded cheddar for those who eat dairy)
- 1 or 2 handfuls corn tortilla chips, crushed
- Optional toppings – sliced green onions, salsa, avocado or more corn chips
- Combine the Tex-Mex spice blend ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or spray a 4 to 5-quart casserole dish
- In a large wok, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell peppers and jalapeno and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes, until softened. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Stir in the spice blend, corn, diced tomatoes and juice, tomato sauce, kale, beans, rice and 1/4 cup of the vegan shredded cheese (if using). Sauté a few more minutes and season with more salt and black pepper, if desired.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and smooth out the top. Sprinkle the crushed chips over the casserole mixture along with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 15 minutes.
- Uncover the casserole dish and cook for 5 to 10 minutes more, until bubbly and lightly golden around the edges.
- Scoop the casserole into bowls and add your desired toppings.
Yield: Makes 6 Servings
Adapted from the Oh She Glows vegan cookbook by Angela Liddon