How do you cure a picky eater? Introduce her to a variety of foods served up in fun ways!
Healthy Kid-Friendly RecipesResearch shows that kids develop their taste preferences by age 3, says Shannon Payette Seip, co-owner of the Bean Sprouts Cafe in Madison, Wisconsin, and coauthor Bean Appetit: Hip and Healthy Ways to Have Fun with Food. Help train your child's taste buds with these nutritious nibbles.
Mini Yogurt ParfaitsStore-bought parfaits can be too sweet, too big, and too pricey, says Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, senior editor for Health and author of Feed the Belly: The Pregnant Mom's Healthy Eating Guide. Cut down on sugar and cost by making your own. Using small plastic cups with lids helps control spills, too.
Taco WrapsGo ahead and let your kids play with their food! Set out fat-free tortillas and lots of colorful, healthy ingredients (think chopped chicken, tomatoes, and shredded lettuce). Give your children ownership over their food in creative ways, like letting them smash avocados for the wraps' guacamole. The more involved they are, the more likely they'll finish the meal.
Foods on a StickPlayfulness is key when it comes to kids trying new foods, and eating is always more fun when the food's on a stick. Cut off the sharp tips from bamboo skewers and thread the sticks with fresh fruit cut up into bite-size pieces. (Young kids can choke on whole grapes; never give them to children under 4.) Want to go savory? Spear skewers with cooked ziti, diced cooked chicken, and cheddar cheese cubes.
PizzaWhat kid doesn't love pizza? Make a green pizza topped with (surprise!) pesto, and pile on veggies or diced cooked chicken. You can get even healthier by using whole-wheat dough, made from scratch or purchased (look for it in the refrigerated section of your grocery store).
Hearty MuffinsPacked with fruits, grains, and yes, even vegetables, the right muffin recipe delivers healthy fiber and nutrients. Pack these oat bran muffins as a lunchbox treat or serve after school. For a fun twist, add chopped nuts or your little one's favorite fruit to the mix.
SmoothiesSmoothies are a great way to slurp up calcium and other nutrients. Let kids invent their own and give the concoctions silly names. For an extra healthy boost, use yogurt that's fortified with vitamin D.
Bite-Size FrittatasDeliver healthy ingredients in an unexpected way. Bake protein-rich frittatas in mini muffin pans, or use a 2-inch cookie cutter to make kid-size servings. You can serve them right away or freeze for later.
EdamameSoybeans are mild tasting, high in protein, and easy for little fingers to grab. Plus, older kids love popping them out of the shells. Try boiling frozen edamame with a little salt (until tender), and then serve warm or chilled.
Homemade GranolaSure, the packaged bars are convenient, but many of them come loaded with salt and preservatives. Our yummy recipe comes with fiber, crunch, and natural sweetness.
Sweet Potato FriesRich in beta-carotene, fries made with sweet potatoes are healthier than the greasy drive-through alternative. Make your own, or buy them frozen. (Look for options that are low in sodium or saturated fat.) Serve with a dip made of Greek yogurt and a little Ranch dressing.