Give Peas a Chance: Recipe Remakes

Boost the nutritional value of foods your kids already love.
Feb 06, 2013

Ages

3-5

When asked to name her favorite foods, it's a pretty safe bet that your child will reply with a short list of the usual suspects: mac 'n' cheese, pizza, fries, and chicken nuggets. Encouraging your child to try something new (a.k.a. healthy) — or to simply recognize that there are edibles in life beyond hot dogs — can be challenging. And in a world full of highly processed convenience foods, it can often feel like an uphill battle.

Take heart! With a few tweaks, you can steer your child to healthier eating by transforming some of her favorite staples, like the fresh twists we've given to these classics. Since kids are more likely to try something they're involved in preparing, be sure to encourage your child to help out. Even a small nudge in the right nutritious direction is progress, so stay positive and keep trying. Before you know it, your child's taste buds will bloom!

Patchwork Pizza Square
Veggie Mac 'n' Cheese
Sweet Potato Fries
Chewy Apple Fruit Bars

 

Patchwork Pizza Square

What you need:

  • 1 square whole-wheat wrap (from a 4-count package)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped broccoli florets (or halved grape tomatoes, carrot slices, cauliflower, etc.)

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place whole-wheat wrap on a baking sheet. Brush lightly with half of the oil and pre-bake 5-8 minutes.
  2. Spread half of cheese on hot crust and arrange veggies in 4 "patches." Or invite kids to create patterns with colorful veggies and toppings!
  3. Top with remaining cheese and bake 10 minutes more. Makes 2 to 4 servings.


15-Minute Veggie Mac 'n' Cheese

What you need:

  • 1⁄2 pound whole-wheat pasta (elbow, shell, or wagon wheel)
  • 2-3 cups fresh or frozen peas, green beans, broccoli, or other favorite vegetables
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1⁄4 cup flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch fresh pepper
  • 1 1⁄4 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

What to do:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Halfway through, add veggies to pasta. Cook until veggies are tender and pasta is al dente.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, and stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Slowly add milk.
  3. Stir constantly until bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese. 
  4. Drain pasta and veggies, add to cheese sauce, and stir to coat. Makes 4 servings.


Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

What you need:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Leaving sweet potatoes unpeeled, scrub and slice into 10 thick wedges each.
  2. Place potatoes and olive oil in a plastic zippered bag, close, and toss to coat.
  3. Arrange slices, not touching, on an oiled baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes, turn, and continue to bake 15 more minutes or until they are golden and crisp.
  4. Sprinkle with the coarse salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings (about 20 large fries).

 

Chicken Strips Tip

Try this healthy coating: Mix ground flaxseed, grated cheese, and bread crumbs. Dredge chicken, bake, and enjoy!

 

Chewy Apple Fruit Bars

What you need:

  • 2⁄3 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened, plus extra for the pan
  • 2⁄3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1⁄4 cup 2% milk
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and diced
  • 1⁄2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1⁄2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9" x 9" square pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium-high until fluffy and light. Add egg and milk, mixing thoroughly.
  3. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in apple, cranberries, and apricots.
  4. Spread batter into prepared pan and bake 25-30 minutes.
  5. Cool before cutting into squares. Makes 25 squares.

Chicken Strips Tip

Try this healthy coating: Mix ground flaxseed, grated cheese, and bread crumbs. Dredge chicken, bake, and enjoy!

 

 

Raising Kids
Age 5
Age 4
Age 3