3 Easy & Healthy Recipes: Tried and Tested by 13-year-olds

In anticipation of our newly launched Healthy Eating for New Moms Bundle here at Meal Garden, I've been experimenting with some more "kid-friendly" recipes to get more acquainted in this "meal planning mommy space". Or perhaps, I've just been totally inspired by a whole new way of looking at recipes: keeping things:

1. SIMPLE

2. FAST

3. HEALTHY (but not in a weird, need to remind yourself that "it will payoff eventually" way)

I've also just moved in with my younger cousin, who happens to be 13-years-old and not always the biggest fan of the idea of "healthy" eating. Weird, but true!

This weekend, I let my cousin hand-pick 3 recipes from Meal Garden to experiment with, and we did the shopping, prepping, and eating from start-to-finish - TOGETHER. The results? Healthy eating for kids is totally possible...but needs to be done SMART - not necessarily sneakily, but wisely.

Here are my top 3 take-aways from the "experiment", and the [revised] recipes that I'll recommend to any moms with picky eaters (or just "normal children"):

1. Incorporate a familiar and already-loved ingredient into the new (less familiar) dish.

My cousin and I were fairly courageous with these Moo Shu Wraps - I liked the idea of "lighter", fresher, plant-based "burritos" - my cousin simply liked the idea that it somehow resembled a burrito. 

The "feature" protein here? Tofu. Not exactly his go-to protein source. Maybe one day, but not today.

Still, I went all out and pushed for the organic tofu option.

Next time? I'm going to incorporate something he already loves - chicken! While the wraps were fun to make (seriously, rice wraps = a good solid time), he did comment that chicken would have been "tastier". Perhaps that's a sign I should have marinated the tofu a bit more, but there's also nothing wrong with a bit of pulled lean chicken breast, so I've updated the recipe on Meal Garden (it's still healthy folks!) and will be making that version for him next time.

2. Consistency is key.

Next up we made BROWNIES! Who doesn't love a good old brownie recipe? ME! Especially if it's loaded up with sugar and white flour and other unmentionables. Luckily, we've got Meal Expert Danielle Binns onboard here at Meal Garden, and her Black Bean Brownie Recipe was a winner, even with my legume-fearing cousin!

Danielle calls these brownies AMAZING for a reason people! They are truly an indulgent dessert. BUT while the recipe didn't necessarily call for a food processor to truly pulverize the beans into a completely disguised mush (maybe this should have been obvious and I totally missed the boat?)...I'd recommend it either way. 

While both my cousin and his friend enjoyed the recipe (warm - right out of the oven, yum!) they did make the comment: "You can still tell there's beans though."

Okay dudes, point taken.

PS side note: black beans apparently "smell really bad" right out of the can...so maybe make a joke out of that right from the start. I also got my cousin and his friend to smell the glorious coconut oil as a way to deter their noses onto something more enjoyable and pleasantly sniffable ;)

3. NO PRESSURE!

While my cousin isn't TOTALLY against all things healthy...his friend...not so much. "I don't like veggies", "No, I don't eat kale", "I hate anything that's healthy though", are just a few of the lovely quotes he shared with me on that wonderful day. 

Instead of putting pressure on him to SUCK IT UP AND TRY SOMETHING NEW - I took Dr. Orlena Kerek's advice to simply keep things "anxiety-free" and present the option - without the pressure. [Learn more about her tips on Introducing New Foods here].

This worked wonders for the "surprisingly" delicious recipe that followed - a snack and dessert all in one. Oh yeah, and it's kale.

Maple Coconut Kale Chips my friends. They are a delightful surprise to your tastebuds with every bite. 

RIDICULOUSLY simple to make, these babies are bound to win over your pickiest of eaters - without the fight. While we were washing and stemming the kale, both my cousin and his friend did NOT seem enthused at the idea of eating this green stuff. 

I simply explained that we'll coat them with the sauce, pop them in the oven, and we can just serve them to my aunt - we don't even have to eat them! That made them feel better.

Until they could smell them...and eventually asked to "just try one".

Countless bites later, I had happy kids on my hands.


So there you have it, healthy eating isn't always a straight path to glory - but with Meal Garden, I have a handy little assistant at my side...as I begin to turn my family and entire neighbourhood into total health freaks like me (or, okay, slightly healthier individuals).