5 Healthier Versions of Your Kids' Favorite Foods

5 Healthier Versions of Your Kids' Favorite Foods

Swap in these healthier versions of your kids’ favorite foods -- they may not even notice.

By Judy Koutsky

Does your son want pasta every single night? Is your daughter addicted to sugary cereal (and wants it for every meal)? Well don’t worry, you don’t have to completely ditch their favorite dishes -- just alter them a bit. You’ll be surprised how much they like these healthier, but still very tasty, versions.

1. Healthier mac and cheese. If my two young boys could only eat one dish for the rest of their lives, it would be pasta. With this butternut squash mac and cheese recipe, you still have the same look of pasta, but with good-for-you butternut squash (high in vitamins A and C, as well as fiber and potassium). Also, did you know squash is great for your child’s vision? It contains beta-carotene and lutein, which help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration later in life.

2. Fruit-filled oatmeal instead of sugary cereal. Breakfast is an important part of the day, but starting it with cereal full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup does not a healthy child make. Instead, try this simple overnight berry oatmeal recipe, which combines fruit, oats, and a whole lot of flavor. Plus all that fiber will keep them full (and full of energy) at school. If they don’t like oatmeal, you can switch to whole wheat pancakes, another healthy option.

3. Hummus instead of French onion dip. Kids love to snack, but instead of mayonnaise-rich onion dip (high in fat and empty calories), try hummus with pretzels. Hummus is high in fiber and protein (which keeps blood sugar levels balanced), and it’s a good source of iron (which gives them the energy to fully participate in the day). Plus, this hummus recipe, with only five ingredients, is easy to make.

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4. Sweet potato fries instead of french fries. Another kid favorite? French fries. Now they can still get that crisp, savory flavor, but with all the benefits of sweet potatoes. This root vegetable is high in fiber and it has more potassium then bananas (potassium is needed for bone development). Plus, sweet potatoes are packed with carotenoids like beta-carotene, which not only helps with eyesight, but also boosts immunity to fight diseases. This simple recipe for sweet potato fries will have your kids asking for more.

5. Banana and sunflower butter sandwiches instead of peanut butter and jelly. PB&J is a top kid favorite, but with many schools going nut free, and with jelly and jam high in fructose and sugar, it’s easy to make this swap and still keep your kids happy. Cut up their favorite fruit instead of jelly. A few good options include strawberries and raspberries, which are some of the most powerful disease-fighting foods available. They are high in vitamin C, magnesium, and fiber, plus have anti-cancer and disease-fighting capabilities. Then instead of peanut butter, substitute sunflower butter -- which tastes a lot like peanut butter, but with the added benefit of being nut free.

What healthy swaps have worked for your family?

Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on Twitter @JudyKoutsky.

Images ©iStock.com/LUGO (top); ©iStock.com/m-chin (oatmeal); ©iStock.com/LindsayAdler (sandwich)


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