As a parent, you want to spend as much time with your kids as possible, and a great way to do that is letting them help with meals. If you have toddlers, this is the perfect age to let them take part in meal prep because allowing them to see how a meal comes together may prevent some of their finickiness. Plus, they’re more apt to eat what they helped to make. These meals are low in calories but high in flavor, nutrition, and fun—and these dishes are the ideal size for little fingers and mouths!
Move over fried, greasy chicken tenders; there’s a sweet-glazed, healthier chicken in town! Your kids will like the stickiness and finger-licking that goes with this dish; or place the chicken pieces on blunt-ended skewers, and they can eat them like a lollipop! This recipe calls for skinless, boneless chicken thighs but it will work just as well with skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Let your youngsters toss the ingredients in the bowl or do some of the mixing. Remember this is supposed to be kid-friendly so if they don’t care for spicy food, you could tone down the amount of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. Serve green beans and rice to create a filling meal.
This puts the twist in the old-fashioned PB&J sandwich! Substitute the white bread with reduced-fat flour tortillas. Everything is so easy to put together that your tots can help from beginning to end with the mixing, slicing (with a plastic knife), spreading and rolling. Their hearts will get a healthy dose of nutrition with the wheat germ’s fiber, banana’s potassium, and the peanut butter’s monounsaturated fat. This will make a splendidly sticky lunch or breakfast for your little ones.
Who says pancakes are just for breakfast? If they’re loaded with nutritious foods such as walnuts, canola oil, and carrots you can eat them anytime. These sweet hotcakes will taste just like a carrot cake complete with all the spices of an original carrot cake but hardly any of the fat. Bring out your food processor so the munchkins can assist with grating the carrots and let them blend the dry and/or wet ingredients. Be aware the batter will be thick, and you just might need some help from little hands spreading it in the pan with a spatula. Your children will marvel that eating something this sweet isn’t for dessert.
Meatloaf usually isn’t finger food, but shaping the meat into muffins creates an excellent portion-sized dish for little appetites. What child would be able to resist a delicious muffin? Every muffin contains lean ground beef for high protein and low fat and is packed with diced veggies to give your children more fiber and antioxidants. Let your tots get in on the action by allowing them to mix the ingredients into the meat then assemble the meatloaf molds. After all, what child doesn’t like getting their hands dirty? Terrific sides would be asparagus and roasted red potatoes.
You can even make this recipe ahead of time, wrap each muffin and freeze. When you need to make supper in a rush, pull the muffins out of the freezer and just heat them up along with a side for a healthy, tasty meal!
For those homes that are vegan/vegetarian, this one’s for you—it’s a low-fat variation on the crescent roll-wrapped pigs in a blanket using veggie sausage. This recipe is so simple and superb for lunch, breakfast or a snack. Get your children involved with this fun dish by letting them mix the dipping sauce, cut and roll the dough around the links; if they’re preschool age be sure they use safety scissors to cut the dough. If your youngsters don’t like honey-mustard, then some other good dipping sauce choices would be to make your own low-fat Ranch dressing or barbecue sauce or you could just use ketchup.
If your household isn’t vegan, no worries, you can still make this dish with your kids; just use reduced-fat turkey or pork sausage links to maintain low saturated fat.
Breakfast can be a challenging meal in some households—especially if all your kiddos want are those sugary cereals. Put the cereal bowls aside and give them a scrumptious frittata. They’ll get the fiber and protein they need and serving the frittata with milk and a melon slice will keep them going all day long. The frittatas are loaded with yummy foods like bacon, potatoes, and eggs; sour cream and chives can be omitted to make it more palatable to your little tikes.
Make up a bunch of these some weekend with your kids, freeze them and microwave them quickly some morning for a tasty breakfast.
You’ve heard of the Sloppy Joe? Well, this is its brother that contains low saturated fat, no cholesterol, and high protein. Soy crumbles are used in place of ground beef but your kids shouldn’t even notice because it’ll smell, look and taste like meat. Yet the thing that remains the same is the sloppiness of the sandwich that children adore! If you have elementary school-aged kids, feel free to let them help under your supervision. For munchkins with little appetites, it’s best you use Hawaiian or Parker House rolls. Serve with baked potato wedges to complete the fun meal.
Your kiddos will have a marvelous time preparing these meals with you. Not only will you be strengthening the bond between you but they’ll be learning something in the process.