This post includes healthy food recipes for the picky eaters. I’m sure you can relate to cooking for kids who are afraid of trying new fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. We do our participants in shelters and my tips are great for any family.
Not everyone loves cooking for themselves. But when the food you cook is healthy, nutritious and easy to make, there’s no reason why everyone shouldn’t give it a try.
healthy meals even the pickiest eaters will love
These nutritious meals will even have crustless sandwich fans hungry for more.
If you treat a vegetable well, you won’t need to hide it or sneak it in.
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.
Budget-friendly meals: Joy Bauer’s family dinners under $10
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!Ghazalle Badiozamani / Instant Loss Eat Real,
Easy Egg Bite Muffins
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.
Joy Bauer’s Apple Protein Pancakes
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.Zach Pagano
Healthy Breakfast ‘Pizza’
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.
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.
Crispy Quinoa Chicken Nuggets
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.
The Best Healthy Meals for Picky Eaters
Veggie Quesadilla Recipe
This easy, healthy veggie quesadilla recipe is packed with gooey cheese, black beans, and crunchy veggies. Done in less than 30 minutes they make a great weeknight meal! If you have young kids, I recommend reducing the spices and cutting them into small pieces that are easy for tiny hands to pick up. For kids that have super picky eating tendencies, I recommend pureeing the veggies and beans together, and adding more cheese to hide those veggies in between the cheese and tortillas!
Oat Flour Pancakes
These tasty and easy Oat Flour Pancakes made with cottage cheese are perfect for breakfast, brunch or dinner. They’re packed with whole grains and protein but thanks to all the decadent toppings, they are still a super kid-friendly meal. This lightened up pancake recipe is a great option for the entire family!
Vegetarian Zucchini Lasagna
This low carb, gluten-free, vegetarian zucchini lasagna is another great way to sneak in those extra veggies into your child’s diet! Simple to prep, this no-noodle ‘pasta’ dish is full of all of the flavors you would expect from a traditional lasagna recipe. It’s one of those healthy dinners that tastes great as leftovers too! If you have especially fussy eaters, you can alternate layering the zucchini in between regular lasagna noodles to make it more palatable to their tastes.
Veggie Pizza Recipe
This veggie pizza recipe is both enticing and healthy! Made with melted gooey parmesan cheese and tender fresh vegetables such as red onion and green bell pepper, this savory and yummy pizza is perfect when you’re looking for something tasty, satisfying, and ready in 30 minutes! A great appetizer for a crowd or an easy main meal!
Italian Casserole with Cannellini Beans
This vegetarian Italian casserole with Cannellini beans is incredibly appetizing and full of aromatic, Italian flavors! Made with fresh carrots, herbs, onions, and white beans mixed with cheesy coarse breadcrumbs and fresh herbs for a gratin that tastes fully authentic! You’re going to love this easy side dish or main meal that is ready in less than an hour!
Loaded Nachos with Refried Beans
These cheesy, loaded, vegetarian nachos are super satisfying and ready in under 30 minutes! And the best part: they taste just like the traditional recipe but can be enjoyed completely guilt-free! Perfect for late nights, picnics, game day, get-togethers, or a great appetizer or quick dinner for the whole family! Nachos are also a great way to get your kids to try new foods – just hide the new foods in between the chips and cheese and they’re much more likely to eat them!
Healthy Meals for Picky Eaters with Simple Food Swaps
These healthy meals for picky eaters use some simple food swaps to create an extra nutritious and delicious meal even the pickiest kids will love!
SWAP #13: Condiments Part 2: Try hummus as a spread in sandwiches instead of cream cheese, mayo, mixed creamy spreads, etc.
SWAP #14: Sugar: Try honey, agave, raw cane sugar instead of refined white sugar. If you’re trying to cut calories, try Stevia extract or Monk fruit instead of Equal, Sweet N Low, Splenda, or any other sweetener.
SWAP #15: Soda: Try this easy swap: combine 1/4 cup 100% fruit juice with 3/4 cup sparkling naturally flavored water or just plain sparkling water. Tastes just like a soda without all of the chemicals and sugar!
SWAP #16: Dressing: Try fat free salad dressings (read the ingredients to make sure there is no added sugar) or a tiny bit (1-2 tsp) of olive oil/vinegar/salt/pepper instead of regular creamy salad dressing.
SWAP #17: Soup: Opt for broth based soups (made with a tomato base or vegetable stock) instead of cream based soups. I usually ask if there’s cream in a soup before ordering it at a restaurant.
SWAP #18: Veggies: Add them in!! The key to healthy recipes is lots of veggies. You can puree them and mix them into sauces, or cut them up very fine so your picky eaters can’t detect them!
SWAP #19: Meat: Choose white meat (chicken, turkey, fish) instead of red meat (beef, lamb, pork).
SWAP #20: Grains: Instead of white rice or regular couscous, try brown rice, whole wheat couscous or quinoa.
SWAP #21: Smoothies: Use an unsweetened plant milk (0g sugar) or low fat/fat free plain yogurt in smoothies instead of frozen yogurt or ice cream.
SWAP #22: Yogurt: Try lowfat or nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of sweetened Yoplait or other sweetened yogurts. 1 container of sweetened Yoplait can have up to 200 calories, 1 container of nonfat Greek yogurt sweetened with stevia or honey will have only 90-100 calories and TONS more protein.
SWAP #23: Potatoes: Instead of regular potatoes, try making baked sweet potatoes or yams for a higher fiber and antioxidant boost.
SWAP #24: Oil: Use olive oil or coconut oil instead of other cooking oils and try to stick to a small amount, no more than 1-2 Tbsp in most recipes.
SWAP #25: Chocolate: For me, it’s always dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. I try to find chocolate that’s 70% cacao – the calories are the same as milk chocolate, but there’s a bit less sugar and you get the antioxidant boost with dark chocolate. Dark chocolate covered almonds are an even better alternative, since you get some of the protein and fiber from the almonds.