Kids are picky eaters, leave them to their own choice and their daily meals might be in the form of sugar, sugar, sugar, maybe some cheese if you’re lucky, and more sugar. Getting them to eat a healthy diet is really important; this is their developing stage, a diet that lacks essential nutrients might have lifelong consequences.

Now as a parent, getting them to eat their wholesome veggies and the delicious fruits that you love, seems like a herculean task, but more than the famed strength of Hercules, guile is the noun that is required here. When it comes to kids, developing habits is important. You can do as the Houyhnhnms in Jonathan Swift’s classic novel, Gulliver’s Travels, did with their young ones, not let them taste anything sweet till they’re five. My husband and I did something similar with our children, although in this day and age, it’s pretty hard to keep sugar from children until age five, but we did manage to keep it to a minimum until they went to school.

Their ignorance is bliss for you; but if that seems a bit too harsh for your taste, we have a few fun and healthy recipe ideas which will provide yours kids the nutrition they need, while still titillating their taste buds.

The sugar – Kids love white sugar, which unfortunately has bare minimum nutrition value; it also gives them a rush which can make them a nuisance, or incredibly fun. In either case, replacing refined white sugar with an unrefined sugar has many benefits. A 2009 study showed that replacing white sugar with unrefined sugar means an increase in the daily antioxidant intake equal to the amount found in one serving of nuts or berries. Honey is also a good substitute in some dishes. As are Medjool dates.

The ice cream and fruits– Who doesn’t love ice cream? It brings out the kid in many adults too; but commercial ice cream has many disadvantages. The preservatives, food coloring, high amount of white sugar and more make them a delicious nightmare for parents. Kids love it and want to eat it all the time. Ditching the commercial ice cream and making your own ice cream at home puts you in control of what goes inside the ice cream. You can make your own Popsicle’s with fresh fruit. You can find a recipe that I came up with a few years back: Frozen Fruit Pops

Fruit based ice creams with unrefined sugar make for a delicious and healthy treat. You can choose 40% fruit pulp with 10% unrefined sugar, and the rest heavy cream to make a delicious ice cream. Experiment with different fruits and combinations, and you’ll find yourself enjoying it as much as your kid. You can opt for yogurt instead of cream if you want a low fat frozen dessert.

The vegetables– The dreaded vegetables, how can you make your kid like them? The task becomes even tougher if you can’t eat them yourself! A little tinkering and addition of some meat and natural cheese can make those vegetables incredibly savory. For the vegetarians and the vegans among us, a Thai style curry with rice can become your most used recipe. An orange or pineapple juice marinade with sautéed or grilled vegetables and some soy sauce is simple and tastes great. Experiment with flavors, a little more salty perhaps, or sweet, or maybe sour, you can be sure you’ll find a combination which your kids will love.

You can also try gluten-free pastas with assorted vegetables. Kids enjoy wraps too!

For low fat and less calorie dense sauces, choose a savory tomato and onion sauce cooked with herbs. You can also make a homemade mint sauce. There are endless possibilities when it comes to sauces, also, adding and changing the quantity of ingredients results in a completely different flavor.

If you’ve got a child that absolutely will not let any vegetable pass his or her lips, try hiding veggies in other foods that they do like. Cauliflower is absolutely invisible in mashed potatoes. Cooked and mashed carrots and sweet potatoes help sweeten any cake. Jerry Seinfeld’s wife Jessica has a great cookbook called Deceptively Delicious. It has amazing recipes in it for hiding vegetables in foods that children will eat.

Try these recipe ideas and ensure that your kids gets a healthy meal that is fun to cook and delicious to eat.

Let me know in the comments if you try any of these.