Trying to get our kids to eat actual vegetables can present a bit of a problem; who hasn't witnessed epic meltdowns over "that green thing touching my pasta"? If only cookies and ice cream were as good for us as they taste, since there always seems to be room in our LO's "dessert tummy," but alas the salad intake is always at capacity.
While we're not adverse to bribery (we'll gladly negotiate veggie consumption with a bag of chocolate chips!), we're equally on board with a little sneaky parenting, a.k.a. topping up the nutritional value of foods our kids already love.
Check out our top tips to take the stress out of snack time, and easily make your meals more healthful.
Bake with flax eggs
While vegans will recognize this tip as a baking go-to, you don't have to be plant-based to add extra nutrients to your next batch of muffins or cookies. Flax eggs are made of water and ground flax seeds or flax meal, and left to settle for several minutes, they turn into a gooey consistency that mimics an egg and is a good option for binding. Flax is a great source of fiber, as well as protein and omega 3's.
A high-powered blender like a Vitamix or a Magic Bullet (a more economical option), will essentially allow you to pulverize anything into a drinkable liquid, particularly your LO's required daily intake of greens. We suggest freezing spinach (you can try adding more bitter greens like kale in smaller amounts) in reusable bags, and portioning a handful into the blender along with a banana, and your milk of choice. Add vanilla or dates to sweeten, and you've got yourself a cup full of goodness and no whining or complaints!
Easy to make and relatively inexpensive to buy, hummus has become one of our go-to dips, thanks to it's high protein and fibre content, as well iron and vitamin B (especially important for our veggie friends). We've found our kiddos will eat almost anything smothered in this healthy spread, and we've even gotten rave reviews for hummus and cucumber sandwiches, the perfect party food or picnic fare.
Chia pudding to grab and go
In our house, a simple rule of thumb seems to be that if it's chocolate-y it's going to get eaten with a smile. We took a simple chia pudding recipe (which sets in the fridge overnight!), and added a spoonful of a plant-based chocolate protein powder, and our LOs practically licked the bowl clean. Added bonus: most recipes will make two to three small mason jars, which can be served as is, or topped with fruit and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and the chia expands once it's eaten, helping your little scholars stay full until lunch.
Another staple in most veggie households, nutritional yeast is loved not only for its cheesy taste, but for its superfood qualities; it's a complete protein and particularly high in B vitamins, as well as other nutrients. We let our LOs have fun sprinkling it on salads, perogies and pastas, and it's delicious blended into a thick cheese-like sauce.
More healthy snack ideas from HuffPost Canada: