Nutrient-dense foods pack maximum nutrition, including vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, into as few calories as possible. Choosing nutrient-dense meals can help to maintain a healthy weight, encourage the kids to make smart choices and insure that your family gets the nutrition they need. Making healthy meals kid-friendly poses extra challenges, given picky young palates.
Choose nonfat high-protein Greek yogurt, skim milk, whole grain cereal or whole wheat toast and fresh fruit for a nutrient-dense breakfast. Layer Greek yogurt, berries and low-fat granola in a parfait glass on slow mornings or toss yogurt, fruit and skim milk in the blender for an on-the-go smoothie. Opt for water, skim milk or a nonfat latte to accompany your breakfast.
Get the maximum nutrition at lunchtime with well-packed lunches or smart choices if you're on the go. Make the kids' sandwiches on whole grain bread or whole wheat tortillas. Opt for lean meats and low-fat cheese. Round out lunchboxes with sugar-free applesauce, fresh fruit, whole grain crackers or fresh vegetables. Individual serving-sized containers of light ranch dressing are perfect for dipping or dressing a sandwich. Look for light menus when you're eating out, opting for vegetables or fruits on the side.
Dinner at Home
Plan your dinners to include lean meat, fresh vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Try bean and rice burritos topped with peppers, zucchini and fresh tomatoes. Make pizza with a homemade or purchased crust, topping it with sauce, low-fat cheese and plenty of fresh vegetables for a kid-friendly meal. Swap out high-fat beef for ground turkey for tacos, spaghetti or meatloaf, and use dry dressing and dip mix to add seasonings. Add extra vegetables to these favorite meals by sneaking grated carrot into your meatloaf or shredded squash into the spaghetti sauce.
Better choices make snacks healthier. Pair bean dip, fat-free ranch dressing, or hummus with fresh vegetables or serve fresh fruit with yogurt dip for a fun favorite the kids will like. Low-fat cheese with whole grain crackers or a string cheese stick and piece of fruit are kid-friendly choices that appeal to adults as well. If you'd like something sweet, replace full-fat ice cream with lower fat frozen yogurt, topping your treat with fresh berries or peaches.