You’ve probably heard it’s best to avoid processed foods, but why? They contain empty calories in the form of added sugar and fat. All of those ingredients you can’t pronounce are not necessary and can most of the time be avoided.
Parents can offer healthy meals comprised mainly of whole foods to avoid the following health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. To help you accomplish that goal, here are ten meals without processed foods.
1. Fruit Smoothies
It’s almost like a milkshake, plus you can sneak foods in that your child wouldn’t otherwise try! A green smoothie is great for breakfast or just a snack. There are a plethora of smoothie recipes available, so don’t give up if the first one isn’t a hit!
2. Hummus Veggie Wrap
Hummus is used as a sandwich spread and a dip. Made from chickpeas, it is a popular Greek and middle eastern food. It does not constitute a meal in and of itself, but can be the star of a balanced meal. Offering a dip is a perfect way to encourage your kids to try a new food.
Spread some hummus on a whole wheat sandwich wrap, top with your kids’ favorite veggies—cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, spinach, carrot shavings—and add some cheese. Add a side of applesauce and serve. It also packs easily into a lunch box.
3. Pasta Salads
You may not think of salad as a kid-friendly food, but you just haven’t met the right one. Sometimes children object to foods touching. However, you can solve that problem by serving salad ingredients separated.
Try serving your child a fruit salad mixed with an organic yogurt. You could even do a salad bar one evening, allowing your child to add the ingredients. Here is a recipe for a pasta salad that is sure to please.
Soup is one of our favorite healthy meals and can be filling, especially if paired with a sandwich. Plus, there are endless ways to add nutritious foods. Here is a recipe for a comforting and delicious cream of turkey and wild rice soup that both you and your child will enjoy.
5. Mac and Cheese
We have all seen and probably eaten the boxed macaroni and cheese. It seems to be a childhood staple. But if you’re trying to avoid the powdered cheese route, here is a homemade mac and cheese. Plus, you can add veggies such as peas, chopped up broccoli, or corn.
6. Fruits and Dip
An apple or banana is easy to handle and taste great. You could even slice up fruit and add a couple tablespoons of natural peanut butter or greek yogurt for a dip. Offering your children healthy finger foods is a perfect way to bridge the gap between meals.
When you are looking for exciting breakfast ideas, oatmeal is probably not the first thing to come to mind. Oatmeal, however, is incredibly versatile. While it is cooking you can add some apple chunks, honey, and cinnamon. Or when it is done, try mixing in some peanut butter and honey and topping it with a few banana slices?
8. Veggie Quesadillas
Your kids will love them because they are cheesy and delicious. You will love them because of all the good stuff that’s in them (and the bad stuff that’s not). Even more, veggie quesadillas are quick and easy to make and the leftovers are even good for lunch the next day. Here is how you do it.
9. Hidden-Vegetable Sloppy Joes
We are all familiar with the sloppy but oh so tasty loose meat sandwich on a bun. But did it ever occur to you that it doesn’t necessarily have to be enjoyed on a bun. A baked potato can be a healthier alternative to a highly processed hamburger bun. And, by the way, that sloppy joe sauce can make it easy to sneak in a few vegetables without the kids noticing. Try this recipe and you’ll see.
10. Chicken Nuggets
What is childhood without chicken nuggets? You probably didn’t think it was possible to get them without all the unnecessary additives. Well guess what? You can! Check out this recipe to make your own wholesome chicken nuggets.
If you want to give your kids healthy meals, free of processed food, it’s definitely possible with a little planning. These recipes are a good way to get started. What are some of your family’s favorite recipes? Share with us in the comments.
Featured image by @shynnz