5 Healthy Foods Kids Love, from Tina Ruggiero, M.S., R.D.
Tina Ruggiero, author of "The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook," sat down and gave us the best advice on cooking great food that happens to be good for you too
When it comes to feeding families healthy food, Tina Ruggiero, M.S., R.D., wrote the book, literally! Her new book, “The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook,” is packed with fresh ideas for families, minus the fads. Just good food that happens to be good for you. That’s why we asked her advice about overcoming those dreaded foods kids don’t like, her hands-down most successful dish and a new spin on “healthy” cooking.
It’s not always easy to get kids to try new foods, so I’m always looking for nutritious foods that will be worth the effort. What foods do you recommend working into kids’ diets most?
Eggs are an ideal vehicle for creative dishes since they’re virtually the perfect accompaniment to other ingredients—sweet or savory. They are a nutrient-rich food as well providing essential vitamins, minerals and protein. Fish is my other favorite ingredient; it can be grilled, baked, broiled, poached or pan-seared. Options are endless as are the nutrient benefits of fish.
What foods have you struggled with when it comes to feeding your kids? And how did you overcome it?
Zucchini. The kids hated the texture—until I grated the zucchini and incorporated them into Curried Veggie Pancakes. Now the kids ask for this recipe. They like the dollar-sized pancakes for a snack which is just fine with me.
What food do you find yourself cooking with over and over again?
Sweet potatoes. Hands-down, this is a crowd pleaser over and over. I mash them, stuff them, bake or roast them. No matter what I do, they’re well-received.
It can be frustrating to make new dishes, only to have a 50-50 success rate with the kids. What’s your hands-down, I-know-they’ll-LOVE this dish?
My black bean burgers are my go-to meal. Sometimes, I combine brown lentils with black beans to make the recipe. No one seems to know the difference, and the burgers are lapped right up. I serve them with slices of avocado and low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt, and everyone is happy. A side salad and a glass of wine make my dinner complete.
Sometimes the idea of “healthy” food can be a turn-off, or even intimidating but you’ve really embraced it. How would you encourage other parents to approach cooking healthy meals?
“Healthy” doesn’t always equate with “tasty,” and I’m sometimes hesitant to tell a client, a friend, my family—or anyone in shouting distance —that a recipe is “healthy.” So I focus on one ingredient, extoll its virtues, get everyone pumped-up about trying a dish and voila! Everyone is eating and enjoying it.
For more about “The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook” click here.
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