Getting kids to eat the good stuff can be tough (OK, more like impossible). Between dealing with picky eaters and sifting through the vast amount of junk food out there– really, what’s a parent trying to get something nourishing into their offspring to do? Well, it’s as simple as incorporating vegetables, like spinach, into foods they already like. Sound easier said than done? It’s not. Because of spinach’s mild flavor, it’s a sneaky ingredient that can fit easily into everyday recipes, while offering healthy benefits for the whole family.
While kids usually won’t eat the green stuff, they might be huge fans of green-colored foods, like these muffins. How do I know this? Because I grew up in the generation where purple and green ketchup happened, and before that a 1987 Ghostbusters promo for Hi-C happened with their green Ecto-Cooler flavor (Surprise, it’s back!) So will kids chomp at the bit to get their hands on these bright green muffins? Maybe! And, really, there’s no reason not too–they taste exactly like banana bread.
Layering spinach, turkey, and Swiss cheese together on one tortilla allows you to roll everything up and slice to reveal pinwheel sandwiches that have a fun, totally kid-appealing swirl. This recipe makes a perfect packed lunch, because the pinwheels can fit snugly in a wide variety of plastic containers. For kids, picking the greens off of a regular sandwich would be easy, but getting them out of these rolled up pinwheels is a little tickier. Not to mention, spinach is a much easier sell when it’s a part of the pretty pattern rather than merely an unwanted layer on their turkey sandwich.
For a fresh flavor, this smoothie recipe calls for a cup of fresh basil. However, this can easily be swapped for spinach, which is much milder in flavor and is a super easy way to have little ones sipping their greens. Kids will never know they’re drinking those good greens because it hides behind the more dominant flavors of the strawberries. The smoothie will still retain its red hue, and kiddos will never suspect the secret ingredient.
Typically, kids go ga-ga for pizza. Pizza bites, pizza bagels, pizza-flavored chips, mozzarella sticks… etc., the list goes on. And really, does that ever really change as we grow up? These homemade calzones are crispy, gooey, cheesy, and filled with great veggies like red pepper, broccoli, and spinach, which gives it a healthy edge. You can also play around with including some of your kids favorite pizza toppings. Serving them with a marinara dipping sauce ensures endless the full pizza experience.
Surprise! These brownies are going to fool you and everyone you know into eating their vegetables. Why? Because these cocoa-rich brownies are also packed with something else: veggies. By utilizing black beans and spinach in this classic dessert recipe, these brownies get a protein- and vitamin-powered kick while retaining that moist brownie texture. Using black beans in brownies is nothing new, and in fact is a great way to get kids (and even yourself!) to seamlessly snack on a bit more fiber.
These dip-able, top-able, and pop-able fritters are the perfect breakfast food for little hands. Like those hash browns cakes kids love at the drive thru, these fritters are just as tasty but run way lower on grease, and much higher on the good stuff–like eggs and spinach.
Most kids (and adults, let’s be honest) posses a massive love for macaroni and cheese. Not only is it always one big bowl of yummy, cheesy deliciousness, but it’s also easy for kids to eat. A great way to sneak in some spinach is within the cheesy sauce of their favorite macaroni and cheese meal, like this one that gets nice and toasty in the oven.
Do you have any tips and tricks on getting your kids to eat their vegetables? Let us know in the comments below. Because hell, even adults could use a few pointers every now and then. When it comes to consistently eating healthy, the struggle is real. But getting creative with ingredients swaps is a solid step in a healthier direction.