It is possible for even the pickiest eaters to diversify their favorite foods — they just need to be introduced to nutritious ingredients in fun, familiar ways.
Transform sugary pancakes into a protein-packed meal (breakfast for dinner, anyone?). Whip up a batch of egg muffins with a rainbow of veggies and upgrade the classics like mac and cheese andchicken fingers with healthier ingredient swaps or cooking methods. Whatever vegetable aversion you're up against (it's broccoli, isn't it?), these recipes for picky eaters were designed to help.
This sweet smoothie features a green vegetable — kale! — that most won't be able to taste or notice. Each satisfying sip contains good-for-you ingredients that provide a nice dose of fiber, calcium and nutrition. But it goes down easy, like a fruity treat!
If there's time, making a double batch of these is ideal. Serve some for breakfast and freeze the rest for busy mornings, afternoons or even dinner. They're packed with veggies and protein to enjoy home or on the go and great for picky kids who can't resist a muffin.
Who doesn't love pancakes? This healthful version is a great way to make breakfast shine any time of day. They have hearty oats, egg whites and chia seeds so they're rich in fiber.
This morning spin on a classic afternoon dish will get your day started on the right foot. With each tasty bite, you'll score fiber and protein and lots of cheesy goodness. And thanks to the tomato sauce, you'll also get a nice dose of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that can help enhance skin and heart health.
Lunch and dinner
Quesadillas and guacamole are typically a win for kids, so why not slip in some more healthy vegetables into the guac? Joy Bauer's rendition is made with … wait for it … broccoli. Make a batch with your kiddos — then grab your favorite dippers and dive in.
Quinoa is incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet and it's a great way to get more fiber. This recipe uses the ancient grain instead of bread crumbs and, when mixed with a bit of Parmesan and seasonings, creates the perfect crunch.
For the person that swears against vegetarian meals being filling enough, whip up a batch of chipotle chili in your Instant Pot or crockpot. The chunky, naturally sweet butternut squash paired with hearty beans and smoky spices will have even meat eaters feeling satiated.
One of the best ways to get young kids to eat naturally nutritious foods is to emphasize the rainbow a variety of veggies creates. The colors in the pinwheels are so incredibly vibrant, making for such a fun snack. Since different antioxidants create the different colors in fruits and vegetables, these wraps pack in all the important vitamins and minerals.
Swap white flour pasta for nutrient-rich legume pasta (made from chickpeas, lentils or black beans) because they contain about double the protein and triple the fiber compared to most standard noodles. Then, kick things up a few notches by baking mac in a muffin tin to create portion-sized delights that are crunchy on the outside and ooey-gooey cheesy on the inside. Good-for-you mac and cheese that your kids can devour with their hands — what's not to love?
If your kids can handle modeling clay, they can make ricotta gnocchi! You may prefer to make the initial dough to assure the amounts are correct, and instead of knives, you can let the younger kids pinch out pieces by hand or give them small cookie cutters to make fun shapes.
Chicken fingers are a family-favorite but restaurant versions are usually full of saturated fat and sodium. Registered dietician Frances Largeman-Roth created an oven-baked recipe that has all the flavor kids love without the excess breading. Feel free to experiment with the seasonings, like adding a little more spice for kids who can handle the heat.
Anyone who is quick to slurp up a bowl of instant ramen noodles will love this homemade version that's not laden with sodium. Whip up the cozy soup or make it ahead in a cute Mason jar. It's an easy and enjoyable dinner idea for picky eaters.
Another way to swap out fried food for something healthier but just as satisfyingly crunchy is to oven-bake breaded shrimp. This recipe is super simple, plus it uses ingredients that normally get thrown away, including stale bread and parsley stems.
This lightened up yet totally satisfying pasta Bolognese calls for extra-lean ground beef and is served over a bed of spiralized zucchini noodles (zoodles) instead of pasta.
Satisfy the cravings of a burger or pizza lover by combining both into one mighty meal made with lean ground turkey, a whole-grain bun and other fresh, tasty toppings.