6 Fast, Healthy Recipes for Frazzled Parents

happy kids sitting around the breakfast table eating pancakes

"Knowing kids -- and parents -- need to eat healthy food is one thing. Getting them to do it is another. For starters, kids of all ages tend to hate at least one thing -- say, green beans -- and devour tons of another, like grapes. Don't worry about a few extremes; if your child's diet over the course of a week, for most weeks, is balanced overall, that's fine," says pediatrician Jennifer Trachtenberg, MD, mom of three and author of the book, The Smart Parent's Guide to Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents and Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children.

"That said, the more fun food is, the more likely kids are to eat it, especially when it comes to veggies and breakfast, two things they often resist," adds Dr. Jen. "Here are some super easy recipes that can get even teens to eat smarter."

3 Tempting Breakfasts

  • Oatmeal-Cookie Pancakes: Every kid loves these. To regular pancake batter, add oats, raisins, chopped walnuts -- all excellent fiber and nutrition boosters -- plus some cinnamon and a bit of brown sugar. Pour into fun shapes like snowmen, turtles, or Mickey Mouse. To beat the morning rush, make the batter the night before and refrigerate it.
  • Breakfast Tacos: Teenagers who turn down everything else will often eat these. Spoon scrambled eggs into warm whole-wheat tortillas, top with shredded low-fat cheese, a dollop of low-fat yogurt or sour cream, and salsa.
  • Smoothies for Two: These are a treat on hot summer mornings and are filled with enough protein, fiber, and nutrients to keep kids fueled for hours. Just combine 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt, and 3/4 cup juice in a blender.

3 Fun Snacks

  • Graham Sandwiches: When your child wants something sweet, here's a delicious cheesecake-like treat that's healthier than kids realize. Spread half a graham cracker with low-fat cream cheese; top with a little raspberry puree and the other cracker half. Yummy!
  • A Feast for Giants: Broccoli "trees" and carrot "logs" are even more fun when you can dunk them in a yogurt-based dip. Mix up to 8 ounces of plain low-fat yogurt with some chopped dill, a little Dijon mustard, and a dash of soy sauce. Try dipping bell-pepper-strip "canoes," cherry-tomato "boulders," and cucumber-slice "bridges," too.
  • Creepy-Crawly Crackers: Spread peanut butter between two round whole-wheat crackers, add pretzel sticks for legs, and raisins for eyes and you've got one fun, spidery snack.

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