Restaurant-Style Recipes Kids Love

By Catherine Katz, PhD

Back in the days when my kids were little, there was no HealthyDiningFinder! Oh how I wish there had been! It would have been a savior on those occasions when we bravely ventured the whole bunch—5 of them, 2 of us, out to dinner!

Being married to a health and nutrition expert, I can tell you there wasn’t much of anything we could find on those kids’ menus! You’re familiar with the choices: hot dogs, chicken fingers, French fries, macaroni & cheese, pizza… you know the drill! Inevitably, we would end up skipping over those menus altogether and just order the simpler fares from the regular menu. Of course, our kids had to share among themselves, because those portions were way too large for them. That worked, but you can only do that so much with such a big family—it gets expensive!

There is a reason these items keep appearing on those kids’ menus. Kids don’t like fancyschmancy; they like simple, familiar food. So, what I quickly learned to do is to recreate those kid menu favorites with a nutrition upgrade in my own kitchen. The trick was to do it without changing the appearance, the texture and really much of the simple taste kids prefer. And that’s just what I did! I used stealth ways to sneak in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts or legumes at which the kids would otherwise turn up their noses. The net result was to increase fiber content, lower the sodium and sugar content, maximize vitamin, minerals & antioxidants, lower the saturated fat content or eliminate it all together and replace it with healthy fat….all while preserving deliciousness of course!

Today I’d like to share a few of these old favorites that have been in my stealth mom repertoire. Feel free to look up others on my website. There are a lot more to choose from!

I think a top favorite is my crispy chicken tenders: Perfectly crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside. Kids devour these! Just don’t tell them they are eating their wholegrain cereal doing it!

My plain cheese pizza is not so plain at all, but you’d never know it! I mean: look at the photo I took of it right out of the oven, and tell me you detect ANYthing different about it (Did you go check it out?). I mean REALLY, avocado, who knew?!

Sneaky Cheese Pizza

My sneaky macaroni and cheese is outrageously creamy and delicious!  Quite sneaky! It hides pureed cauliflower. You got to admit–getting your little finicky one to devour cauliflower is a feat, right?!

Another family favorite are my mini BBQ burgers–No one, adults included, will ever know these are so good for you! They hide puréed lentils, which not only make them fabulously nutritious but also make them moist like a regular beef burger!

Power chocolate banana milkshake: This milkshake tastes like the real thing!  It’s so chocolaty thick and creamy!  It’s absolutely power nutrition, so you can feel good sending your child to school with this breakfast in his or her tummy! The “secret” ingredients, which you would never know are in there–you just don’t taste them–are canned black lentils and rolled oats! In one fell swoop, I have fruit, whole grains, legumes, dairy and nuts all in this one shake…Your kids will LOVE it and you can feel so good about it!

So, there you have it! Try some out in your own kitchen and I think you’ll be amazed! The only issue is you may find have all the children in the neighborhood at your table!&nbsb;