Kid-Friendly Meals that Don't Have Processed Foods

When you think of kid-friendly foods, chances are, boxes splashed with bright, colorful characters are among the first things that come to mind. You're imagining macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, pizza: the range of processed, sodium-packed, chemical-laden foods that line the shelves at the supermarket.

Here's the good news: you don't have to offer your kids highly-processed foods in order to serve them a diet that they'll eat!

Why Dodge Processed Foods?

Processed foods contain a number of substances that you simply won't find when you make your own meals. You'll find chemicals, food dyes, and a range of other substances that aren't necessary--and many of those can cause health problems for both you and your kids.

Removing processed foods can help you dodge a number of complications. Consider:

  • Many children (and adults!) have sensitivities to the dyes used in food products. These sensitivities can cause headaches, behavior problems, and even concentration issues that can mimic ADD or ADHD symptoms.
  • Real foods help you avoid unnecessary sugar, which can make both you and your kids leaner. Decreasing sugar consumption can also help avoid cravings, decrease obesity levels, and make it easier for you to stave off binge eating.
  • Real foods encourage healthy eating habits, rather than overeating. Many people find that they even become addicted to certain junk foods--a trend that can be avoided by opting for a diet filled with real food.
  • Real foods contain real nutrients. Processed foods often lose many of their important nutrients during the creation process, leaving you eating calorie-laden foods that have little nutritional advantage. Real foods, on the other hand, are packed full of nutrients that can help provide you with more energy and make it easier for you to carry out your daily activities.

Creating Real Food Meals Your Kids Will Love

You're sold on the benefits of real food, but getting your kids on board can be a real challenge! Fortunately, many of the foods your kids love can be reproduced with real foods. Encouraging them to snack on fruits and veggies is a great start. Then, branch out into real food meals that the kids will love to find on the table. Check out some of these favorite recipes. Spaghetti and Meat Sauce: Mom's Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce tastes even better than the store-bought version, but without the additives found in many commercial products. Serve it over spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles or let the kids enjoy it over whole grain pasta: this family favorite is sure to be a hit at dinner time.

Sausage, Pepper, and Potato Bake

This amazing dish is a snap to prepare for your family! With delicious sausage providing a flavor base and familiar potatoes and sweet potatoes making an appearance, it's a surefire way to delight your kids.

Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches

Try making your own whole grain bread, pick some up from a local bakery, or locate a bread at your supermarket that isn't processed and filled with chemicals (hint: this type of bread may go bad faster, so buy it when you need it, rather than stocking up ahead of time).

Add peanut butter (choose an all natural brand with ingredients you recognize or make your own by grinding peanuts in your food processor!), slice bananas, and enjoy!

Add hummus and pita chips or veggies to help round out the meal.

Healthy Mac and Cheese

No, you don't have to remove this kid-friendly favorite from your menu! Try spicing it up the whole foods way and enjoy a fun meal with your kids. Add in veggies or pack in some meat for even more nutritional benefits.

Make Your Own Pizza

You don't have to use complicated cauliflower or zucchini crusts to keep pizza on the table for your kids. Instead, try an option like whole wheat pizza pockets that will thrill the kids while still keeping to your whole foods resolution.

Making the swap to real, unprocessed foods is a big step toward keeping your entire family healthier. By choosing recipes that your kids are sure to love, you can keep them eagerly running to the table at dinner time even without those familiar boxed dinner items.

Check out some of these great meal ideas or experiment with your own; you'll quickly discover all the benefits of serving your kids these healthy dishes.

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