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Healthy Cooking for Kids

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Healthy cooking for kids can involve children in cooking their own foods to encourage healthful eating. If they help prepare it, they just may eat it. Following are suggestions, tips, the best and worst foods for kids, plus some healthy recipes your children are sure to enjoy!

An eating regimen that is too rigid or rigorous also has pitfalls. Moderation is the key to success.

As children develop good eating habits, praise them. Reward an all out good effort of healthy cooking with an occasional non-edible treat, such as a movie pass or tickets to a ball game.

Healthy Cooking for Kids

Do not expect immediate results. Changing eating and exercise habits gradually offers a much better chance that your child will make them a way of life.

It may be more convenient to feed kids smaller meals and give them nutritious nibbles between meals when they are hungry. That is one way to sneak in fruits and vegetables when the kids are not expecting them and are the most likely to eat them because they are hungry.

Remember to combine different colors and textures at mealtime to make it more interesting and enticing.

Following are ten of the worst children's foods, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest and a list from Parents Magazine. We concur more with the Parents Magazine list but thought both interesting to note.

The Worst Foods for Kids (CSPI)


  • Soda
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot dogs
  • Ice cream
  • Bologna
  • Whole milk
  • American cheese
  • French fries and Tater Tots
  • Pizza loaded with cheese and meat
  • Chocolate bars

Top Ten Worst Foods For Kids (Parents Magazine)

Parents magazine compiled the top ten worst foods for kids. They are as follows.

  1. Chicken Nuggets (bursting with fat).
  2. Chips (mostly fat, sodium and empty calories).
  3. Doughnuts (packed with saturated fat and trans-fatty acids).
  4. French Fries (high in fat, few vitamins).
  5. Fruit leather (no resemblance to fresh fruit).
  6. Hot dogs (high in fat and sodium, also a choking hazard for kids 3 and under).
  7. Juice-flavored drinks (most no more than 10-percent juice; even those with apple, pear or grape concentrate have negligible nutrients).
  8. Prepackaged lunches (high in saturated fat and sodium, packed with sugary treats, nutritionally unbalanced).
  9. Soda (regular flavors high in sugar, too often replaces milk).
  10. Toaster Pastries (a lot of fat, not much fruit).

The Best Foods for Kids

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables (especially carrot sticks, cantaloupe, oranges, watermelon, strawberries)
  • Chicken breast and drumstick without skin or breading
  • Cheerios, Wheaties or other whole-grain, low-sugar cereals
  • Skim or 1-percent milk
  • Extra-lean ground beef or vegetable burgers
  • Low fat hot dogs
  • Non-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Fat free corn chips or potato chips
  • Seasoned air-popped popcorn
  • Whole wheat crackers or Small World animal crackers

Build-Your-Own Recipes for Kids

Pita Pockets:  Put out whole wheat pita breads sliced in half, small pieces of sliced turkey breast or low fat cheese and vegetables such as lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, sliced cucumbers and bean sprouts. Let the diners spice up their sandwiches with mustard, cranberry sauce or salsa.

Baked Potato:  Offer healthful toppings for baked potatoes such as grated part-skim Parmesan cheese, plain non-fat yogurt flavored with curry or dill, ratatouille, vegetables sauteed in water or a little oil, canned (without salt) or frozen peas and salsa.

Chef's Salad:  Set out washed and torn lettuce, fresh spinach, diced turkey and lean ham, low fat cheese, hard-cooked eggs or egg whites, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and carrots. Serve fresh bread on the side.

Burritos:  Offer cooked ground turkey, cooked kidney or black beans (drained if using canned), hot sauce, black olives, cooked rice, torn-up lettuce, diced tomatoes and warmed flour tortillas.

How About Some Healty Junk Food?

Science now finds five foods, previously thought to be bad for you, fit for a healthy menu. These five are pizza, peanut butter, eggs, guacamole and submarine sandwiches.

Pizza. When you load up your pizza with tomato sauce and mound it with vegetables you can create a nutritional bonanza. The tomato sauce is rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which can help save you from heart disease, prostate cancer and other disease. You can further boost health protecting antioxidants by piling on garlic, sweet pepper, onions, broccoli, herbs, mushrooms and spinach. Cut down on high-fat cheese, pepperoni and sausage as these will spoil the nutritional kick in your pizza.

Peanut Butter. You can now put peanut butter on your diet food list! Peanut butter can stave off the appetite up to 2-1/2 hours. It is also heart healthy. Peanut butter is high in monounsaturated fat, which aids in the prevention of heart disease. It is also rich in bone-protecting boron and anti-cancer trans resveratrol. To get the best nutritional benefit from peanut butter, look for the natural brands.

Eggs. Egg yolks have newly discovered health assets. They are a major source of the antioxidant lutein and zeaxanthin, yellow pigments that may help prevent vision robbing cataracts and macular degeneration. They are also a rich source of choline, which is essential for optimal brain development in early life and intellectual functioning in old age. Experts now say you can indulge in one whole egg a day.

Guacamole . The avocado in guacamole contains good monounsaturated fats, just like peanut butter. It also can help curb the appetite, as does peanut butter and lowers LDL cholesterol, which helps reduce your risk of heart disease. Guacamole is loaded with nutrients, including potassium and antioxidants that may help neutralize bad fats. Eat your avocado plain or with a little garlic, olive oil or salsa and try to avoid fat-laden sour cream. Light sour cream is very good or you can even purchase fat-free sour cream, if this is how you prefer to eat your guacamole.

Submarine Sandwiches. Submarine sandwiches can be low-calorie health boosters. You do; however, have to watch the ham, salami, bologna, sausage, meatballs, cheese and high-fat salad dressings. Use white turkey or chicken meat with no dressing, or your own fat-free variations to make your sandwich, are excellent ways to indulge in and enjoy a submarine sandwich. Some submarine sandwich shops now include a vegetable submarine that is an excellent choice.

Subway's 6-inch turkey submarine sandwich has only 254 calories and 3.5 grams of fat. Compare this to a typical fast-food hamburger or fried chicken, which contains 600 to 700 calories, and ten times the fat! Make your own submarine sandwiches a healthy choice by using whole-wheat rolls, turkey, tuna or chicken breast and a variety of vegetables including lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, squash, onions and cucumbers. For dressing, use olive oil or non-fat dressing, as mentioned previously.

Top Ten Worst Foods for Kids