Cooking healthy foods for your kids (and some adults) can be challenging, especially if picky eaters are involved. To help you hop over this hurdle, we’ve assembled some comforting meal and snack recipes where you can sneak in fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean protein into familiar favorites like quesadillas, mac and cheese and chicken tenders.
1. Black Bean and Spinach Quesadilla | Calories In Calories Out Cookbook
Family-friendly black bean spinach quesadillas make a delicious and quick meatless meal your kids will love. This recipe uses black beans, fresh baby spinach and monterey jack cheese. Feel free to leave out the jalapeno chiles and mushrooms if your kid isn’t into it. Substitute with your family’s favorite veggies instead. Recipe makes 4 servings at 1 quesadilla each.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 370; Total Fat: 12g; Saturated Fat: 5g; Monounsaturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 20mg; Sodium: 846mg; Carbohydrate: 44g; Dietary Fiber: 8g; Sugar: 1g; Protein: 20g
2. Crockpot Bolognese | Skinnytaste
Pasta in a meaty sauce is a-okay for many picky eaters. Use this recipe for crockpot bolognese to make a savory meat sauce in a convenient crock pot. Then, serve with a side of pasta or, if you want to sneak even more veggies in your kid’s meal, serve with a heaping side of spaghetti squash “noodles.” Recipe makes 20 servings at 1/2 cup of sauce each.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 143; Total Fat: 7g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 48mg; Sodium: 145mg; Carbohydrate: 5g; Dietary Fiber: 1g; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 15g
3. Skinny Baked Broccoli Mac & Cheese | Skinnytaste
Hide broccoli in the mac and cheese and see if they can find it. Now the ultimate comfort food side can be your main entrée. Each satisfying portion is loaded with broccoli florets, whole-wheat pasta and reduced-fat cheddar cheese. You can savor the taste and still get your veggies in to boot! Recipe makes 8 servings at 1 cup each.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 333; Total Fat: 10g; Saturated Fat: 5g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 28mg; Sodium: 393mg; Total Carbohydrate: 40g; Dietary Fiber: 5g; Sugars: 2g; Protein: 18g
4. One-Pot Taco Casserole | Fit Foodie Finds
The best dinners come with the least clean up. Fit Foodie Finds’ recipe for taco casserole requires only one pot. Yup, you heard that right! Load all the trimmings for terrific tacos—ground meat, corn, black beans, cheese—and into the oven it goes. This high protein quick meal is sure to be a kid favorite. Now you can save the mess for when you actually eat the tacos. You’re welcome! Recipe makes 8 servings at 1 cup each.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 316; Total Fat: 12g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 94mg; Sodium: 734mg; Total Carbohydrate: 25g; Dietary Fiber: 6g; Sugars: 5g; Protein: 28g
5. Slow Cooker Turkey Chili | Skinnytaste
This mild kid-friendly crockpot chili is made with lean ground turkey, corn, bell pepper, tomatoes and spices. Top with with crunchy baked tortilla chips, and watch your little ones gobble it up. This chili can also be made in large batches for freezing and reheating. Recipe makes 5 servings at 1 cup each.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 222; Total Fat: 3g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 74mg; Sodium: 719mg; Total Carbohydrates: 20g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 7g; Protein: 32g
6. Parmesan Chicken Tenders | Cooking Light
These parmesan chicken tenders are an awesome addition to lunch boxes, especially for kids! Lean chicken breast is dredged in a buttermilk-egg mixture before being coated in Parmesan cheese and spices. This gives the chicken a finger-lickin’ good coating while keeping it moist in the oven. Serve with a side of roasted or steamed veggies, and gobble them up for dinner. Recipe makes 4 servings at 2 tenders each.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 326; Total Fat: 12g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 128mg; Sodium: 581mg; Carbohydrate: 15g; Dietary Fiber: 1g; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 35g
7. Tuna Veggie Melt | Clean Eating
Give your kid’s tuna melt a makeover with this recipe for healthier tuna melt. You can take out the fatty mayonnaise and indulgent cheese without destroying the taste. How? By adding creamy Greek yogurt and Swiss cheese. And, shhh … there’s also oodles of veggies in this sandwich to make it a high-fiber meal. Recipe makes 2 servings at 1/2 cup tuna salad + 1 slice tomato + 1 ounce cheese + 2 ounces bread each.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 340; Total Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 35mg; Sodium: 410mg; Total Carbohydrate: 31g; Dietary Fiber: 5g; Sugars: 7g; Protein: 41g
8. Paprika Parsnip Fries | The Wheatless Kitchen
Looking for a healthier alternative to satis-fry a french fry craving? Check out this recipe for baked parsnip fries. By subbing in parsnips for those starchy potatoes, you’ll cut the carbohydrates in half and also get some additional fiber. Prep is a breeze since the recipe uses only four ingredients, and you don’t need to tell your kid it’s parsnips (wink wink). Recipe makes 2 servings at 1 cup each.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 237; Total Fat: 8g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 314mg; Carbohydrate: 42g; Dietary Fiber: 12g; Sugar: 11g; Protein: 3g
9. Baked Mozzarella Bites | Cooking Light
Serve this quick after-school snack to your kids as an alternative to traditional fried cheese sticks. Each serving of three mozzarella bites packs 7 grams of protein and is less than 100 calories. Recipe makes 4 servings at 3 mozzarella bites + 1 tablespoon sauce each.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 98; Total Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 11mg; Sodium: 186mg; Carbohydrate: 7g; Dietary Fiber: 0g; Sugar: 1g; Protein: 7g
10. Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites | Running with Spoons
Craving a treat? Whip up these easy chocolate peanut butter bites to satisfy your sweet tooth. You won’t even have to bust out the mixer or turn on the oven! Recipe makes 12 servings at one 2-inch ball each.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 120; Total Fat: 7g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 1mg; Sodium: 3mg; Carbohydrate: 15g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 6g; Protein: 3g
11. Easy Baked Apple Chips | Food Fanatic
Looking for a new healthy snack option to stuff into your kid’s lunch box? Try this baked apple chip recipe using just two ingredients: fresh apples and cinnamon. Recipe makes 2 servings at 1/2 apple each.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 41; Total Fat: 0g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Carbohydrate: 9g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 8g; Protein: 0g