Sometimes we have to get a little creative. Of course we want our children to grow into mini gourmands, but at the end (or beginning) of a long day, we have pick our battles. Fortunately, you can hand over some nutritious meals that your child will actually eat. It just takes a bit of thinking outside the box.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Oatmeal

I tried this and it wasn't at all gag-worthy. The greatest part is you're getting protein, fiber, and vitamins in one meal. The jelly serves as the sweetener rather than your typical brown sugar. The added bonus: it's much cheaper than boxed cereal.

Ingredients

  • Oatmeal
  • Peanut Butter
  • Favorite Jelly
  • Milk (optional)

Method

Make your favorite oatmeal. While it's still hot, mix in 1 T peanut butter. Swirl your favorite jelly over the top. Serve with milk (or almond milk).

Fake a Milkshake

Shove as many vitamins as you like in a delicious "milkshake." Take frozen fruit of your choice, yogurt, peanut butter and a splash of juice, and blend it well. Pour it for your child every morning and relax that he's getting everything he needs to get through the morning. You can even add spinach if you're feeling feisty. Call it a milkshake, serve it with a swirly straw and you're good to go.

Mashed Cauliflower

They'll never know. You just served your carb-loving toddler a heaping serving of vegetables, and he ate every bite. Just boil a lot of cauliflower in a pot. Make sure it's cooked well. Strain it, then put it into a food processor. Add milk, garlic salt, and pepper. Serve and watch him enjoy.

"Frosted" Wheat Thins

For a picky lunch eater, "frost" cream cheese on whole wheat crackers and top with a "cherry," or a sweetened cranberry. This is great for school lunches as well as an afternoon snack. Put them in separate containers, and allow older kids to "frost" their own crackers.

Breadstick Bombers

Delight your favorite aviator with a sandwich that lands in their mouth. Take baked breadsticks and slice them down the middle, lengthwise. Then fill with your child's favorite spreadable mix. Try Nutella, a chocolate hazelnut spread, with peanut butter. Then use a long, thin cracker to lay across the middle, as a set of wings. Place the top on and "bombs away!"

Caterpillar and Butterfly Pasta

Use mini curly noodles (fusilli) and mini bow-tie pasta. Cook them together and serve them as caterpillar and butterfly pasta. Or you can call it worm and spider pasta for the ones who love the gross stuff. This is a great way to introduce new sauces to your child, on a bed of something fun and whimsical.

Make a Face

Let's face it, when it comes to food and small kids, presentation is everything! If you aren't too proud, go ahead and make a face. Use raisins for eyes. Slice celery into a smile. Put peanut butter on celery, add raisins and call it "ants on a log." Whatever your kids are into, personify their food and make it fun.

Tips to make favorites a little more healthy:

  • Add pureed sweet potato or butternut squash to macaroni and cheese.
  • Add wheat germ sprinkled in yogurt, or on top of ice cream.
  • Add flax seed meal to pancakes.
  • Add berries or pumpkin to pancakes.
  • Substitute oil with applesauce in cookie recipes.
  • Add zucchini, carrots, or pineapple to your favorite muffin recipe.

Still looking for ideas? Check out more ways to trick your kids to eat their vegetables. Or you can see 20 healthy snacks for kids to get your mind going.

You may not get your kid eating seaweed overnight, but you'll definitely be expanding his palate with these fun meal ideas.

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