6 Recipes Turning Your Kids’ Favorite Foods Into Nutrient-Rich Dishes

The dietary habits your children establish in childhood are often carried into adulthood, meaning that it’s of the utmost importance to teach kids healthy-eating habits at a young age, states the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Unfortunately, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee explains that while many young children start out eating well, these habits begin to fade as they reach school age and beyond.

Preparing healthier versions of your kids’ favorite meals is a great way to reinforce healthy-eating habits and ensure they’re getting the nutrients they need. Increase their vegetable intake with greenalicious baked mac, add fruit to their grilled cheese, and coat their chicken tenders with nutritious whole grains. No child will be able to resist these 6 healthy recipes!

1. Fruit-Laden, Whole-Grain Pancakes

pancakes and fruit

Pancakes and fruit | Source: iStock

Pancakes are a morning must for many kids, particularly on the weekends. Livestrong notes that while pancakes are a good source of phosphorous and calcium, they are also relatively high in fat, calories, and sodium. You can make your children’s flapjacks much healthier by preparing Food52’s fruit-laden, whole-grain pancakes, which consist of whole-wheat flour, yogurt, and fruit. We suggest serving Martha Stewart’s berry maple syrup with this recipe, which yields 4 to 5 servings.


  • 1¼ cups white whole-wheat flour
  • ⅓ cup cornmeal
  • tablespoon sugar
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • large eggs, separated
  • tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • Fruits of your choice, such as bananas, peaches, and apples

Directions: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, melted butter, milk, and yogurt until smooth, and then add this to the flour mixture, whisking to combine the two. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes or so, until it thickens. In a clean bowl or with a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the batter.

Cut the fruit into relatively thin slices and set aside. Grease a griddle or cast-iron pan with butter. Cook the pancakes over moderate heat, dropping several tablespoon-size scoops of the batter onto the hot griddle, and then decorate the top of the pancakes with the sliced fruit. When bubbles appear on the top of the pancakeflip and then cook until the fruit is caramelized. Serve immediately.

2. Power-Packed Fruit and Veggie Muffins

fruit and veggie muffins

Fruit and veggie muffins | Source: iStock

Serve Super Healthy Kids’ power-packed fruit and veggie muffins for breakfast, as a snack, or as part of your kids’ lunches. These nutritious muffins manage to be both sweet and savory and are chock-full of good-for-you ingredients, including whole-wheat flour, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, apples, and bananas. SFGate notes that fruits and vegetables increase kids’ nutrient intake, decrease their obesity risk, and help them perform better at school.


  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup broccoli florets
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1½ medium carrots
  • ½ medium apple
  • 1 medium bananas
  • ⅛ cup apple juice
  • ¼ cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • ¼ cup yogurt, plain

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium-size bowl, mix together flours, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside. Soften butter. In a mixer or another bowl, mix the sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. In a food processor, combine steamed broccoli, zucchini, apple, apple juice, and applesauce. Pulse until thoroughly mixed. Shred carrots. If you don’t want the shreds in your muffin, combine your carrots with the rest of the fruits and veggies in the food processor.

Combine the fruit and veggie purée, carrots, and yogurt into the wet ingredient mixture and beat until mixed. Finally, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined and wet. In a muffin tin, place muffin papers or spray with cooking spray. Scoop the mixture into a prepared muffin pan. For mini muffins, bake in a 350-degree-Fahrenheit oven for 15 to 20 minutes. For regular-size muffins, bake in a 375-degree-Fahrenheit oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. Bake until the tops are slightly brown and a toothpick comes out clean, or they bounce back when you touch them with your finger.

3. Grilled Peanut Butter Apple Sandwiches

making sandwiches

Making sandwiches | Source: iStock

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a quintessential lunch food for many kids. Using apples in place of artificially preserved jelly and whole-wheat bread in place of white bread results in AllRecipes.com’s grilled peanut butter apple sandwiches, which are far more nutritious. Eating Well states that 1 medium apple is a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C, contains 4 grams of soluble fiber, and counts as 1 cup of fruit.


  • 1 Gala apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 8 slices whole-wheat bread
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter

Directions: Mix cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl. Spread 1 tablespoon of peanut butter onto one side of 8 slices of bread. Arrange apple slices on 4 slices of bread. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the apples. Top with the remaining 4 slices of bread, peanut butter face down. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry sandwiches until browned, about 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

4. Grilled Cheese and Pear Sandwich


Pears | Source: iStock

Kids Health’s recipe will help you incorporate more whole grains and fruit into your kids’ lunches. USA Pears notes that pears are a rich source of fiber and vitamin C, which help children build strong muscles, blood vessels, bones, and teeth. Feel free to omit the mustard if you’ve got a picky eater on your hands!


  • 2 slices whole-grain bread
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 slice Swiss cheese
  • ½ pear, sliced

Directions: Spread butter on one side of each bread slice and spread the other sides with mustard. Place one slice of bread, butter side down, on the cool skillet. Add the Swiss cheese. Add the sliced pears on top of the cheese. Top with the other bread slice, mustard-side down. Heat the skillet on low to medium heat. Cook, flipping once, until the edges are golden and the cheese is melted.

5. Greenalicious Baked Mac

mac and cheese with pesto

Greenalicious baked mac | Source: iStock

Increase your kids’ vegetable intake with Parents Magazine’s greenalicious baked mac. Spinach, whole-wheat breadcrumbs, fontina cheese, and pasta combine to create this delicious dinner dish, which yields 6 servings. Joy Bauer notes that spinach, which contains beta-carotene, lutein, and vitamin E, is great for enhancing your kids’ eye health; in fact, having them eat spinach while they’re young can help keep their vision clear and bright as they grow older.


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 cups dried fusilli
  • ¼ cup light butter with canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons low-fat milk
  • 1 to 2 cups fresh spinach, packed
  • ⅓ pound fontina cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
  • ½ cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 2-quart square baking dish with nonstick coating; set aside. Cook fusilli as directed on package. Drain and return to pot; keep warm. In a blender, combine the milk and spinach. Cover and blend until smooth. While macaroni cooks, melt light butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour and salt; stir for 1 minute. Add milk and spinach mixture; stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in cheese until melted. Toss together macaroni and sauce. Transfer to prepared dish. Sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.

6. Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Fingers

chicken strips

Quinoa crusted chicken strips | Source: iStock

Quinoa-crusted chicken fingers will be a huge hit at your dinner table. Chef Jennifer Iserloh’s recipe via the Whole Grains Council yields 8 to 10 tenders. Today’s Parent explains that quinoa is high in vitamins A, C, and E, potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium. The protein-packed grain is also a good source of fiber and is very low on the glycemic index, meaning that when your kids eat it, they’re sustained for a longer period of time.


  • 2 pounds skinless chicken tenders or skinless boneless breasts, thinly sliced into 1-inch-thick strips
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1½ cups cooked red or white quinoa
  • ½ cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions: Spread out the quinoa on a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the quinoa. Place the egg whites in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika. Dip the chicken into the egg and then press into quinoa mixture. Place the chicken onto a plate. Warm a large skillet over high heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken in batches and reduce the heat to medium. Cook each side 4 to 5 minutes, turning once, until the crust begins to brown and the chicken is not longer translucent in the center. Transfer fingers to a plate and serve immediately.

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