The 8 Best Foods to Share with your KidsBy Nicki Miller Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, R.D. Science-Backed
Tired of battling over broccoli? Getting your kids to eat their vegetables can be a struggle, but we’ve got your back! Add a little variety to your meals and don’t be afraid to get creative: This is a time when “playing with your food” is definitely encouraged. Research suggests that offering foods with varied tastes and textures, especially earlier in life, may result in little ones eating more veggies, so have fun exploring new ones!1
Bonus: All of these foods are on Jenny Craig’s Fresh & Free Additions list, so they’re great for your healthy-eating and weight loss efforts, too. Check out eight foods your kids will love so much, they might even ask for more!
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This spiky vegetable might have a tough exterior, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts! Your kids will enjoy pulling off each leaf, dunking them in a healthy dipping sauce and taking a nibble. Try making a Greek yogurt dill sauce for dipping by mixing together some plain nonfat Greek yogurt, lemon juice and fresh dill — add other seasonings (like garlic and onion powder and salt and pepper) to taste. You can also offer your kids a variety of other sauces to make it more fun. Show them how to peel down each layer of leaves to reach the artichoke heart, remove the fuzzy “choke” and enjoy! Be sure to cut off the thorny tops to keep little fingers safe.
You can use raw cabbage leaves like a hard taco shell to turn a variety of dishes into finger food with a healthy crunch. A warm filling will soften the cabbage, but if you’re using a cold filling, like tuna salad, you may want to try blanching, cooling and drying the leaves first. Cabbage can be used in many other ways too, such as in a soup, stir-fry, salad or as a slaw.
This root vegetable can be eaten raw (it’s excellent in a fruit salad) or cooked like a potato. What kid doesn’t like french fries? Make some homemade fries by cutting jicama into strips, spraying with non-stick cooking spray and tossing them with spices like onion powder, cumin or cinnamon. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and keep fries from touching. Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, tossing halfway.
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Did you know research suggests that kids are more likely to eat vegetables if they help to grow them?2 If your kids like making food, pickles are a triple-threat: something they’ll love growing, making and eating! Add sliced cucumbers to equal parts water and vinegar, then add dill and a pinch of salt. Let them chill in the fridge for a few hours and you’ll have a quick, tasty batch of pickles in no time!
This versatile veggie is a great substitute for the starches — like rice and mac and cheese — that kids adore. Cooked or raw, cauliflower’s mild flavor make it the perfect choice for a variety of dishes. To make cauliflower “rice,” place a head of cauliflower into a food processor and pulse until pieces are about the size of rice grains. Steam in the microwave for three minutes with a tablespoon of water and seasonings of your choice, fluff with a fork and serve immediately. Toss with diced veggies for a healthy take on fried rice! Raw, “riced” cauliflower can also be added to salads for extra texture and heartiness.
6. Snap peas
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This is another delicious vegetable to consider growing in your garden, since snap peas are relatively easy to maintain. Sweet and crunchy, you can eat snap peas straight off the vine. Kids will love seeing the tiny peas inside the pods. Try them served with a light dip, like our Creamy Herb Dressing. Researchers say kids may eat more veggies if they can dip them.3 They’re also tasty in salads and stir-fries.
7. Spaghetti squash
Despite its name, it’s probably best not to try and fool your kids with this pasta-like squash. Treat it like a fun science experiment and have them help you in the kitchen. They’ll be amazed at how a solid-looking squash turns into squiggly strands. Whether you serve it with a traditional red sauce or a more creative option, this is a veggie that kids will marvel at — and many adults do, too.
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Roasting brings out turnips’ natural sweetness — try roasting them with carrots for a sweet and savory dish. Cut them into 1” cubes and lightly spray with cooking spray. Spread evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast at a high temp (475 F) for 20-25 minutes, tossing halfway. These bite-sized veggies are perfect as a snack, substituted for croutons on a salad or sprinkled onto a dish for extra pizzazz.
Make veggies fun!
Help your kids get their daily dose of vegetables — without the fuss. Let them help you plant, pick and prepare veggies for a glimpse into how eating healthy foods can help them grow big and strong! Then, take your fresh produce and get creative in the kitchen. Your little ones will make great taste testers, and they’ll love learning and experimenting with you.
If you’re the picky eater in your family, don’t let vegetables keep you from working toward your weight loss goals. Jenny Craig’s meals are packed with fresh flavor! You’ll enjoy eating six delicious chef-crafted foods each day, even dessert. Learn more about the delicious weight loss plans Jenny Craig offers today.
Nicki is a journalist with expertise in healthy eating and exercise. She is the former editor-in-chief of Competitor Running and managing editor of Women's Running magazines and writes articles and crafts recipes for a variety of websites and publications. She also loves cycling, making music and is wild about cats, dogs and other animals.
Favorite healthy snack: anything with nut butter!
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
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