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Easy & Healthy Meals for Kids

by Elizabeth Stover, studioD

On a hectic day when you need a meal for the kids, there is no time for long preparations or arguing with kids about eating healthy food. Fortunately, some simple ingredients can assist you in quickly feeding your brood a healthy meal. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has simplified a nutritionally sound eating plan in the form of "Choose My Plate." This informational and visual aide helps you quickly make healthy choices for meals by dividing the plate into food group sections.

Meat Meals

Keep meats simple and lean, and cook them in small pieces to speed up dinner preparations. Use lean ground turkey to make mini-burgers, and serve them with fresh vegetables on a small whole-wheat roll. Cook thin chicken breasts thoroughly, cut them into small pieces, and spread them over tomato sauce on refrigerated pizza dough. Add thin-sliced fresh vegetables and cheese for a healthy pizza meal.

Pasta Meals

Make quick pasta meals with virtually any kid-friendly ingredient you have on hand. Make Asian spaghetti by stirring cooked sliced beef or chicken, bean sprouts, broccoli florets, water chestnuts and soy sauce into pasta. Thrill kids with cheeseburger pasta made from spiral pasta, cooked ground beef, cheddar cheese and chopped pickles tossed with ketchup and mustard. For a more traditional dish, pour Alfredo or tomato sauce over pasta and chicken breast strips, then top it with grated Romano and Parmesan cheese. A quick side-salad with creamy dip will add some fresh veggies to this meal.

Ethnic Meals

Many kids enjoy Mexican food, and making it is a simple, quick process, especially if kids contribute. As you brown lean ground meat or chicken, have kids prepare fresh vegetables and other toppings for fajitas, tacos or burritos. Use whole-grain shells to add quality nutrition. Asian stir-fry and rice, meanwhile, is quick and can be made with any meats and chopped-up vegetables on hand. Use brown rice for optimal health benefits.

No-Meat Meals

Eggs, cheese and legumes all can fulfill protein needs in a meal. Legumes contain protein, and are high in fiber, low in fat. Use legumes such as kidney beans with diced tomatoes and light spices to make a kid-friendly chili. Serve with whole-grain crackers and cheese topping. Allow kids to help make an omelet using ingredients they choose. Use cheese as a protein source in mini pizzas made on sliced whole-grain English muffins or bagels.

Adding Fruits and Dairy

Use fruits and dairy for desserts to be sure your kids get plenty of these servings each day. Serve fresh fruit topped with yogurt and a spoonful of non-dairy topping for dessert. Create a smoothie by combining fresh fruit, milk and ice together in a blender. Berries, melon and bananas are all suitable for the smoothie-maker. Mix and match according to your kids' tastes. Make pudding parfaits from sugar-free pudding layered with fresh berries.

About the Author

Elizabeth Stover, an 18 year veteran teacher and author, has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Maryland with a minor in sociology/writing. Stover earned a masters degree in education curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas, Arlington and continues to work on a masters in Educational Leadership from University of North Texas. Stover was published by Creative Teaching Press with the books "Science Tub Topics" and "Math Tub Topics."

Photo Credits

  • Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images