I know that getting kids on board with healthy eating can be hard and frustrating and discouraging.
SO SO SO many times I’ve made a healthy dinner full of really good-for-you ingredients and am super excited to serve it and then my girls see it … and they give a disgusted look. It’s so discouraging, and I think that can be a common feeling when you’re eating healthy foods and you have kids.
But I truly believe that kids shouldn’t be an excuse to eat unhealthy foods. They should be the reason TO eat the good-for-your-body foods.
I believe that it’s my job, as a mom and my family’s primary food-maker, to teach my girls why certain foods are good for their bodies and why others are not. I want them to have a solid foundation and a good relationship with food so that when they’re teenagers and adults, they know how to fuel their bodies with good, healthy, nourishing foods. (But also find balance with enjoying homemade cookies too. :))
It definitely gets easier– serving healthier meals for your kids — but sometimes it’s still a struggle. (I have a post HERE about how I encourage my girls to eat healthier too!) It got me thinking about the healthier dinners I make that my girls really enjoy.
First, here are a few tips to make dinners healthier: These are some of the food/ingredient swaps/upgrades we make to make a recipe healthier.
- Fewer ingredients and that you recognize: Find items with the least amount of ingredients as possible, and ingredients you recognize and can pronounce.
- Pasta swaps: We use whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, lentil, edamame pasta or veggie spirals instead of white pasta.
- Watch for sneaky sugar: Did you know that some pasta sauces and salsas have added sugar in them? That’s the first thing I look for in the ingredient list, and avoid it (unless I’m buying something that obviously would have added sugar, like Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. :))
- Taco seasoning: This also sometimes has sugar, so find one without sugar, or make your own. I love this recipe.
- Cheese: We try to buy organic cheese as much as possible, and try to avoid orange and processed cheeses.
- Meat and fish: Choose organic, grass-fed meats and wild-caught fish whenever possible.
- More veggies: A lot of times I’ll add in more veggies than a recipe calls for, or different veggies depending on which my family likes best. I have more tips about how to sneak in more veggies in a post HERE.
Now on to the dinners … if you’re looking for some healthy kid-approved dinners, here are some of our favorites!
Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage from Real Simple. You can tweak this dinner depending on what you like. I love using Trader Joe’s vegan kale pesto, Trader Joe’s Brown Rice and Quinoa Fusilli, Aidells chicken apple sausage, and add in veggies like peas, grape tomatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, asparagus and/or broccoli.
South of the Border Pizza from Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Vegetarian. My girls call this bean pizza 🙂 and it’s a quick and yummy dinner. We sometimes use Trader Joe’s pizza dough, other times we use a frozen cauliflower pizza crust and my girls love both. Chunky salsa is the sauce (find one with no added sugar), topped with pinto beans and organic cheddar cheese. Then once it’s all hot and melty, top it each slice with guacamole (find one that only has avocado and seasonings), and chopped cilantro.
Salt & Pepper-Crusted Sea Bass from Killing Thyme. We all LOVE this dinner. We make it without the butter sauce and it tastes like something you’d eat at a fancy restaurant. It’s quick too, and my girls love it. We usually serve it with a salad or roasted vegetables. (You can find frozen sea bass at Costco sometimes. :))
Vegetable Lasagna from The Seasoned Mom. This lasagna has tons of veggies and is really good. My girls like this lasagna and don’t mind the veggies because they’re buried in cheese. 🙂
Soba Noodles with Grilled Shrimp and Lime Cilantro from Chew Out Loud. This is a really quick and delicious dinner that my girls love too and the flavors are really good together. I like to serve this with roasted veggies on the side or a salad.
Cauliflower Curry from Pinch of Yum. I’ve mentioned this recipe a bunch of times, but it’s because it’s that good! Raegan and Leah sometimes like this dinner, especially when I serve it with naan, but Jo consistently loves it and asks for seconds. If your kids like curry and butternut squash, I definitely recommend you give this recipe a try!
Creamy Rosemary Polenta and Roasted Winter Vegetables from Mountain Mama Cooks. The veggies are roasted with butter and maple syrup, so they’re sweet and savory. With the creamy polenta … Yum! The recipe calls for a specific brand of maple butter, but I improvise and use pure maple syrup with Kerrygold Irish butter.
Coconut Shrimp Curry from Jo Cooks. This another delicious dinner if your kids like curry. It comes together really quickly because of the shrimp too.
Veggie Pizza. Raegan loves this pizza! We use either Trader Joe’s pizza dough or cauliflower crust, top it with marinara sauce (sugar-free), and favorite veggies. Raegan likes bell pepper, olives, artichoke hearts; Leah likes olives, zucchini and artichoke hearts; Jo likes olives, artichoke hearts and mushrooms. Top with mozzarella cheese and put into a 450-degree oven until the cheese is bubbly.
Chipotle Citrus Superfood Vegan Tacos from Happy Healthy Life. We first had these a friend’s house and have made them ever since. I add a little less chipotle powder so it’s not too spicy for my girls. They like this dinner because it’s sweet from the agave and mango. 🙂
Quinoa Red Bean Chili from Mel’s Kitchen. This one is really good served over roasted sweet potato halves. We like to top it with avocado, cheddar cheese and plain Greek yogurt.
Teriyaki Chicken Casserole. This is such a simple dinner. And it comes together really quickly if you have pre-cooked or leftover brown rice and chicken. I don’t follow an exact recipe, but in a 9×13 pan, add brown rice, cooked chicken pieces, broccoli, snap peas and baby carrots. Add your favorite teriyaki sauce to coat everything and stir. Then heat it up in a 375-degree oven for about 20 minutes or so. If you like your veggies a little softer, steam them beforehand.
Black Bean Fajitas. My girls love tacos and burritos, so we eat them a lot! Plus, this is a super quick dinner. This recipe is in a free pdf I put together of my favorite quick and healthy dinners. Grab a copy by entering your email at the bottom of this post. 🙂