Healthy Dinners for Children

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You want your children to eat more vegetables and whole grains for dinner. They probably want to eat more breaded, fried or cheesy dishes. Instead of arguing over meals, learn to compromise by putting a healthy spin on favorite dinners. Skip the fryer and mystery meat and serve your children baked breaded chicken breasts. Spruce up plain pizza by trading in the white crust for whole wheat, easing up on the cheese and adding some well-liked vegetables.


Baked Breaded Chicken

Set up your dredging station. In one shallow dish, beat 2 eggs together. Mix together 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp. dry mustard, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt in another shallow dish. Use chicken tenders or slice chicken breasts into 1-inch wide pieces. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and preheat your oven to 475 degrees F. Use your right hand to dip a piece of chicken in the eggs, coating both sides. Dredge the egg-coated chicken piece through the flour mixture, coating both sides with the flour. Place on the baking sheet. Coat the remaining pieces of chicken. Bake the chicken until cooked through and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Throw out any remaining eggs and flour mixture. Serve the breaded chicken with a side of brown rice or mashed potatoes and your child’s favorite vegetables.

Healthy Pizza

Use a frozen or store-bought whole wheat pizza crust or prepare your own by mixing together 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 tsp. instant yeast, 1/2 tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/3 cup water. Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil, then knead the dough for 10 minutes. Let it rise for 1 hour, then stretch and roll out into a 12-inch round. Top the pizza with sauce and 1/2 to 1 cup reduced-fat mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle chopped vegetables, such as peppers, onions and broccoli, or whatever your child will eat. Feel free to add reduced-fat pepperoni or sausage. Bake the pizza in a preheated 500 degrees F oven for 10 minutes. Let it sit for a minute or two before slicing.

Value-Added Pasta

While you do want your child to learn to enjoy and appreciate the taste of individual vegetables, sometimes you don’t have the stamina to argue with him over the dinner table. If your children are going through the extremely picky eater phase, get them to eat their vegetables by adding a cup or two of finely chopped veggies to a prepared jar of marinara sauce. Puree the sauce in a blender and your children will never know. Suitable vegetables to add include shredded kale or spinach, broccoli, carrots and onions. Prepare pasta, such as spaghetti, preferably whole wheat, and coat in the sauce. If you are serving meatballs, give them a boost by mixing the ground meat with bulgur, whole wheat bread crumbs or other finely ground whole grains before shaping them into balls. Aim for a 50-50 ratio of meat to whole grains.

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