A lot of people seem impressed when I tell them that my kids have been cooking for themselves since they were four years old. But they're not prodigies, and we're not training for Masterchef Junior. 

Cooking is something we do together for fun, and it's easier than you might think. If you look carefully, you can find hundreds of healthy recipes for kids of all ages. Research shows that kids who cook are more likely to choose to eat healthier foods. On top of that, cooking together provides quality family time and creates memories that will last a lifetime.

A quick search of kids cooking classes might lead you to believe that the only recipes kids are capable of following are for desserts. Kids cookbooks likewise focus on sweets and fun foods. But there's no reason your kids can't learn to cook with meats, vegetables, and other healthy ingredients. And if your kids make it themselves, they'll be more likely to eat it, too.

Healthy Recipes for Kids: Vegetables

Let's start off with the elephant in the room. Who hasn't fought with their kids about eating their vegetables? But there's a big difference between having some weird green thing thrust in your general direction, and eating vegetables you've prepared yourself.

Here are a few fun, easy, healthy recipes for kids to try, which will hopefully make vegetables a bit more attractive.

Roasted Corn


roasted corn

Image via Pxhere

You might have had roasted corn on the cob at a fair, carnival, or farmer's market. You have to admit, it has a lot going for it. Corn is one of the primary ingredients of a lot of healthy recipes for kids, simply because even a lot of veggie-hating kids like to eat it. On top of that, in the summer, you can find ears of corn on sale for outrageously low prices.

Also, this is one of those foods that everyone can customize to their own, individual taste. And if that's not enough, you can eat it on a stick. Finally, this is a recipe so easy that most kids can handle it...with supervision, of course.


What you need

  • 1 to 2 ears of corn for each family member
  • Sticks or skewers if desired
  • "Wet" toppings like butter, lemon juice, or olive oil spray
  • Dry toppings such as salt, pepper, herbs, and spices

How to make it

  1. There are two ways to cook corn: the fast way and the long way. If you're in a hurry, shuck your corn if necessary, and boil for 15 minutes until tender. If you have time to spare, butter your corn and cook it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes, turning halfway through.
  2. While the corn is cooking, set out your spices in small serving dishes. Put out a variety for people to mix and match. Salt and pepper are familiar standbys. More adventurous people might enjoy trying lemon pepper, garlic powder, or cayenne. Dried herbs like basil, rosemary, marjoram, and thyme can add an Italian flavor. Have butter or olive oil spray at the ready. These will not only add flavor but will help the dry ingredients to stick to the corn.
  3. When the corn is ready, bring everything to the table and serve. People can sprinkle the toppings over the corn, or put them on a plate and roll the moistened corn in them.


Roasted Potato Wedges


roasted potato wedges

Image via Pixabay

Potatoes get a bad rap, but, cooked properly, they really are good for you. And a lot of healthy recipes for kids involve potatoes because kids will eat them in many different forms. These roasted potatoes are just as tasty as French fries, but a lot healthier.


What you need

  • 3 pounds or so of waxy potatoes such as Yukon Gold. Russets will work, too. This will serve four.
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Spices. I like rosemary and garlic, but you could also try thyme, salt, pepper, onion powder, curry powder, cumin, or any other spice that strikes your fancy.

How to make it

  1. First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a baking sheet, or line it with aluminum foil. 
  2. Next, scrub your potatoes and dry them. Now cut each potato into six to eight wedges. 
  3. Put the wedges into a bowl and pour on the olive oil, thoroughly coating the potatoes.
  4. Then sprinkle on the seasonings and mix again.
  5. Finally, lay your wedges out on the baking pan, and cook for one hour, them halfway through.


Edamame Succotash


edamame succotash

Image via Flickr

Corn is at the center of a lot of healthy recipes for kids, including this one. Edamame, or soybeans, is another food that a lot of kids love, even if they turn up their noses at other vegetables. Succotash traditionally contains a mixture of corn and either beans or peas. This recipe from Cooking Light is tasty, easy, customizable, and, as a bonus, it's fun to say as well.


What you need

  • 2 1/2 cups of frozen or canned corn
  • 16 ounces of fresh or frozen edamame beans (without the shell)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 chopped bell peppers. For fun, choose different colors.
  • 1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (optional)

How to make it

  1. First, saute your onion in the oil for 3 minutes. 
  2. Add the bell peppers and corn, and cook for 5 minutes more until all ingredients are tender.
  3. Then, stir in the broth and bring everything to a boil.
  4. Turn the heat to low, and add the edamame.
  5. Cook for 3 minutes more, then stir in the butter.
  6. Add the mint and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve immediately.

Healthy Recipes for Kids: Protein

Few healthy recipes for kids address protein, and that's silly. Protein is the main attraction in many meals, and, with proper guidance, your kids can learn to cook both meat and vegetarian proteins with ease.

Cooking with meat is a great opportunity to teach your kids safe food handling procedures. Also, always be sure to properly supervise your little chefs when they're working with knives.


Shake-It Chicken Legs


grilled chicken legs

Image via Pixabay

If your family eats meat, drumsticks are probably already a favorite. Cooking them is easy and fun, especially when kids can choose the spices themselves. Teaching kids how to properly cook meat will give them a valuable skill, as well. Imagine how proud they will be to not provide a mere side dish or dessert, but the centerpiece of the entire meal!.


What you need

  • 1 to 2 drumsticks for every family member
  • Olive oil
  • Medium-sized plastic Ziploc bags
  • 1/4 cup flour per bag
  • Spices to taste. You might try salt, pepper, garlic powder, curry powder, cayenne, basil, rosemary or marjoram

How to make it

  1. First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a baking sheet or line it with aluminum foil. Now, coat your drumsticks in a light coat of olive oil. 
  2. Then add the flour and spices to the bag. Put a drumstick in each bag and shake until the drumsticks are all coated. Finally, lay the drumsticks out on the baking pan and bake.
  3. For how long? Well, 30 to 40 minutes is the minimum. But since we're teaching safe food handling skills, take out that meat thermometer. The FDA recommends cooking chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. You can cook it until it reaches a higher temperature, but 165 is the minimum recommended temperature for poultry. When yours reaches 165, take it out of the oven and serve.
  5. Kids will love taking responsibility for this final step, and learning to read a meat thermometer is an important skill.


Crispy Tofu


crispy tofu a healthy recipe for kids

Image via Flickr

You might wonder what tofu is. And once you find out -- it's soybean curd, by the way -- you may wonder why anyone might find it attractive. But once you give it a try, you'll wonder no longer.

Tofu has a very mild flavor. Some might even call it flavorless. And it adopts the flavors of whatever you cook it with. You can buy several different kinds of tofu. Silken, for example, is very smooth and soft. Many people use it in smoothies, or in place of cream cheese in cheesecake.

Firm and extra firm tofu are mainstays of savory dishes. You can eat it raw, or you can cook it. It goes very well with Chinese-style meals. It's a high-quality, low-calorie, zero-cholesterol source of protein. What's more, it's very, very easy to cook. This is how my family likes to eat it.


What you need

  • 1 to 2 blocks of extra-firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • Spices such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, or curry powder
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of cooking oil

How to make it

  1. Most tofu comes packed in water. If yours did, drain it and pat it dry. You may also want to wrap it in a cloth or paper towel and sit it beneath something heavy for an hour to squeeze out extra water. 
  2. The less water your tofu has, the crispier you can make it.
  3. Next, cut your tofu into slices. We cut ours into slices approximately 1/4 inch thick by 1 inch long and wide. In a bowl, combine your flour and spices. Gently mix your tofu pieces into the flour until coated.
  4. You can also use the shake-it baggie method. Next, heat your oil in a frying pan. 
  5. Hot oil is the other key to crispiness. Lightly fry the tofu pieces until golden brown on each side.
  6. Serve as soon as possible, with rice and vegetables.

Healthy Recipes for Kids: Fun Foods

Can healthy foods be fun to make and eat? Believe it!


Homemade Pasta with Tomato Sauce


homemade pasta

Image via Pixabay

Make your own pasta? Of course you can! With only four ingredients, it's oh-so-simple. And while spaghetti may not be at the top of the list when people think of healthy recipes for kids, this homemade pasta should be. After all, you control what goes into it, and in what proportions.

A pasta-making tool can make it easy to cut uniformly-shaped ribbons. But you can also roll out your pasta with a rolling pin and cut it with a knife. What's more, healthy, low-fat, low-salt homemade tomato sauce is easier than you think.


What you need

  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 can of low-sodium diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 to 2 cloves of fresh garlic
  • Spices to taste: rosemary, basil, marjoram, salt, pepper

How to make the pasta

  1. For the pasta, combine the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl. 
  2. Next, make a well in the middle of the mixture. Beat the egg slightly, pour it into the well, and mix it all together.
  3. What you want is a stiff dough. If you need to add a bit of water, add it by the tablespoon. 
  4. Knead the dough for 3 or 4 minutes on an oiled surface. Then roll it out and cut it into strips or other shapes. Set the pasta aside.

How to make the sauce

  1. For the sauce, put the canned tomatoes and tomato paste into a saucepan. Mix over a medium heat. Add your spices to taste. We like to use garlic, rosemary, marjoram, basil, salt, and pepper. 
  2. Tomato sauce is a great place to squeeze in extra veggies, by the way. Bell peppers are a good choice, as are onions.
  3. You can cook your sauce for a long time, adding water, wine or stock to replace evaporating liquid. You can also cook it for a shorter time. The longer you cook the sauce, the richer and more complex the sauce will be.
  4. On the other hand, a sauce cooked for a shorter time will have a fresh, bright flavor. If you want a smooth sauce, let it cool and put it through the blender before serving.
  5. When the sauce is ready, boil some water and cook your pasta. The best thing about homemade pasta is it cooks quickly -- anywhere from 90 seconds to 4 minutes.


Magnificent Meatballs


meatballs

Image via Pixabay

How about some meatballs to go with that pasta? Or you could put them in a sandwich. This healthy recipe from Betty Crocker is fun as well. With just a little bit of work, your kids can produce something that will impress friends and family members alike.


What you need

  • 1 pound of lean ground meat (turkey, beef, or pork)
  • 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 egg

How to make it

  1. Many recipes call for frying the meatballs. Frying gives the outside a nice, brown, crispy outside. It can, however, add extra fat. This recipe calls for baking them.
  2. First, heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a baking pan or line it with aluminum foil. Next, mix all your ingredients in a large bowl. Then shape into balls.
  3. This recipe will make about 24. Place them 1 inch apart on the pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes. Now it's time to whip out that meat thermometer again. Before you take your meatballs out of the oven, make sure the inside registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit or more.


Is there a vegetarian version?

You bet there is, and not just one. This recipe from Pinch of Yum only takes 30 minutes, too. It's perfect for older kids who have the patience to perform multiple steps and see the process through. This healthy recipe for kids makes a lot, so you may want to cut it in half.

vegetable balls healthy recipes for kids

Vegie balls - Image via Pixabay


Ingredients:
  • 3 cups of cauliflower florets (that's about 2 medium heads of cauliflower)
  • 3 cups of cooked quinoa or brown (or even white) rice
  • 3/4 cup of a dry ingredient like flour, breadcrumbs, oat flour, or almond flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of spices (your choice)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Oil or cooking spray for cooking

How to make it

  1. First, boil the cauliflower florets for five minutes, or until tender. 
  2. Drain, and pulse with your dry ingredient in a food processor until semi-smooth. 
  3. Mix in a bowl with all of the other ingredients until well blended.
  4. Form into balls. Heat your oil in a frying pan.
  5. Lightly fry your "meat" balls until brown on all sides, then serve.

Find Your Favorite Healthy Recipes for Kids

Cooking together with your kids is a fun and educational way to spend quality time together. And children of all ages love the feeling of providing a meal, no matter how simple, for their families. No matter what your tastes, healthy recipes for kids to cook -- with you or by themselves -- are just a few clicks away. So, what are you waiting for?

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