Healthy recipes for your kids

Jan 2, 2010 at 8:17 a.m. ET

A New Year's resolution for yourself may be to eat healthier, but it is also important for your kids to learn about healthy eating. Getting your kids to forgo the cookies and cake for broccoli and carrots may seem like a challenge, but with the following kid-friendly diet tips, they will be eating fruits and veggies every day…and loving it.

Spinach Quesadillas

Healthy diet tips for your kids

1. Get the Kids Involved

Ask your kids to help the meal planning and preparation from start to finish. Let them help with planning the grocery list, shopping for the food, preparing the meal, and even cleaning up. If they are involved, they will feel more appreciation for healthy meals and will be more willing to try new foods. While food shopping, interesting fruits and vegetables may pique their interest and encourage them to expand their food preferences.

2. Don't Trick or Bribe your Kids

Tricking your kids into eating fruits and vegetables or bribing them with snacks or toys may do more harm than good. You want to foster healthy eating habits for their entire lifetime; bribing them will only work for the short-term and it will not help them develop a genuine taste for healthy foods. Furthermore, tricking your kids by hiding fruits and vegetables in their meals will never allow them to gain a real taste for fresh produce. If they don't know broccoli is mixed into their favorite pasta dish how will they learn to love it? When adding fruits and vegetables to your kids' meals, be upfront and excited about it.

3. Switch from Soda to real juice

Doing something as simple as reducing the amount of soda and sugary drinks your kids drink is a significant way to improve their diet. Let them have only one or two sugary drinks a week and substitute their daily soda fix with 100 percent fruit or vegegtable juice, water, low fat milk or soymilk.

4. Improve dishes your kids already enjoy

Ensure your kids get their recommended servings of fruits and vegetables by adding produce to their favorite dishes. For example, top pizza with chopped cauliflower or mix sliced Brussels sprouts into macaroni and cheese. If your child is a picky eater, making their preferred dishes healthier is a good way to introduce them to fruits and vegetables they may have eschewed in the past. You can also serve new fruits and vegetables with their favorite sweet or savory dip.

5. Offer a variety of healthy foods

Starting when your kids are young, serve them a variety of healthy foods. This will help them become familiar with a wide range of foods and ward off tendencies to become picky eaters. Incorporate an array of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins into your family's meals. Try new and different recipes and introduce your kids to ethnic cuisines; this will allow them to develop a taste for many flavors and textures as well as an appreciation for experimenting with different foods.

6. Don't deprive your kids

Though you may want to eliminate all the junk food from your kids' diet, a more sensible route is to limit it. Instead of telling your kids certain foods are "off limits," simply foster an "everything in moderation" attitude towards food.

7. Take a loving approach

Don't force your kids to eat foods they don't want to eat; it will make mealtimes a power struggle as well as make your kids detest the food even more. Instead, keep mealtimes enjoyable and encourage them to try new foods. Additionally, be a good role model by eating these foods and commenting about how good they taste. Kids don't want to miss out on something fun and if you are having fun eating a particular food, they will be more inclined to try it.

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