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Kid-friendly dinner options that are healthy, too

Vera Sweeney, mom, blogger, social media influencer and New York resident, is the founder of LadyAndTheBlog.com. Her lifestyle and parenting brand helps busy women stay on top of the latest trends in fashion, food, family and travel. Cat...

Dinner time. The thought can sometimes chill me to the bone. It's the daily battle that I cannot escape as a mom. Every night it's always a test with just one question.

What am I going to make tonight that is healthy and my kids will complain the least about?

That’s the secret, isn't it? Finding that balance? Our kids are your typical lot. Caleb is a joy... he eats just about anything. It's the best! But Natalie and Liam, my 9 and 7-year-olds, would eat chicken nuggets and french fries or pasta every night if it were up to them. Anyone with picky eaters knows what a tall task handling this situation is. Those still battling on the front lines can appreciate the delicate balance that must be struck.

How can I make this enjoyable for us all while creating something that makes us all happy?

I need to make sure that our meals taste good but they have to be healthy as well. Vegetables need to be included, without a doubt. It's also about whipping up something good in the least amount of time because the hours in the day just simply fly by.

One easy option is pasta. Let's be honest... it's fast and it's cheap and the kids always love it. I love to toss some veggies into my sauce. My grandmother taught me to dice up carrots and saute them with my garlic and onions at the very start. But over the years, I've added other vegetables like broccoli or peas while the sauce is simmering. When everything is mixed together, the kids never seem to mind. And if I can have one night without a complaint, it's a win if you ask me.

Recently, I've started serving a salad before every meal. It took a while for the kids to accept this first course, but now they love it. I grew up eating salad and I figured it was time my kids began the custom as well. We also make raw veggie plates as part of an antipasto-style dinner. We do this about once a week. Let's be honest, it's our favorite part of a party, right? I love to pick at trays of meat, cheese and veggies. So, my husband and I decided that a few times a month we would have this type of meal as dinner and everyone loves it. There's no cooking for me and the kids feel like they have complete control over their dish.

It's also a great way to get the kids to eat raw vegetables.

When raw veggies crudite or a salad is on the agenda, I have to say that the versatility and kid-approval of Hidden Valley Ranch dressings and dips are a home run. There are a lot of options, and the kids like so many of them. We love using the Buttermilk Light Dressing on a nice wedge salad with corn and tomato. The kids have also really taken to guacamole, and the Hidden Valley version is easy to make and really tasty. I'm also starting to play around with some of the Dressing and Seasoning Mixes. They can add some great flavor to dishes like grilled chicken, burgers and meatloaf.

A little goes a long way, so we make sure to add a touch for the kids and they love the extra flavor. We love that they are taking in extra vegetables each night whether it's through a small salad or a side dish of raw veggies. It's a win-win for everyone.

Disclosure: This post is part of a collaboration with Hidden Valley and SheKnows. All my opinions are my own.

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