Cooking for Kids: Tips for Making Healthy Food Fun

How to get your fussy eaters interested in healthy food

Credit: Flickr/woodleywonderworks

Getting kids involved in cooking means they’ll be more likely to eat the results

Getting your kids to eat healthy foods can take a bit of creativity. Try these tips

Studies suggest children who eat meals with their parents have healthier eating habits than those who don’t. Families that eat together at home tend to consume fewer fast foods and more fruits, vegetables and legumes. Making meals at home also helps parents control the quality and quantity of food.

The easiest way to promote healthy eating and increase the frequency of meals at home is to get kids involved with the food preparation process and make it fun. Below are some tips to get kids on board during breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Cook the Colours of the Rainbow

A colourful plate will nourish young bodies with phytonutrients such as flavonoids, carotenoids and chlorophyll—all important for proper nutrition. Ask your kids to choose fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds representing the colours in a rainbow. Keeping track visually will help make sure all colours get eaten in a week, and it adds to the fun. Possibilities include:

  • Red – apples, raspberries, pomegranates, tomatoes, red pepper, radishes
  • Green – avocado, green beans, kale, spinach
  • Blue – blueberries, blackberries
  • Orange – mangoes, carrots, apricots, oranges, pumpkin
  • Purple – eggplant, beets

Up the Kid-friendly Food Factor

Kids like to eat foods that are fun. Here’s how to inject more fun into healthy food—and make healthy food more fun to eat:

  • Add vegetables and legumes to dishes they already like. Put broccoli in their macaroni and cheese, corn or tomatoes in their quesadillas and black beans in their chocolate brownies.
  • Give healthy foods a fun new name. Instead of chicken and brown rice soup make it “Shrek’s Stew.” Changing the name can change a kid’s whole perspective on the food.
  • Sweeten with natural sugars like bananas, dates and fruit juices rather than white sugar, like in this creamy breakfast smoothie.
  • Dip makes everything taste better! Healthy options for dipping include almond butter for apples or black bean hummus for veggies.

Make Meals a Group Effort

Get your kids involved in the food preparation process and they’ll be more likely to enjoy eating the results:

  • Allow each family member to choose the menu on a regular rotation.
  • Search through cookbooks together and choose new recipes every week.
  • Set a specific time for meals and stick to it. If something comes up, make it into a family event so you still end up sharing a meal.
  • Cook several meals over the weekend when you have more time with the kids and refrigerate or freeze them to be reheated during the week.
  • Mix prepared and homemade foods to save time and still provide complete nutrition at each meal – have kids join you at the grocery store and pick a prepared item of their choice.

Be Creative with Food Presentation

Vary the size, shape and assembly method to keep kids interested in their food:

  • Give kids items they can assemble themselves by dipping, stacking and rolling up their food into fun treats.
  • Prepare and serve food in fun shapes. Use colourful or interestingly shaped pasta; cut up sandwiches and fruit into creative shapes using cookie cutters.
  • Make it mini. Try mini hamburgers on whole grain buns, cheese cubes, mini bran muffins or veggie kabobs with cherry tomatoes, baby carrots and bite-sized cucumber chunks.

Article courtesy of Whole Foods Market, Canada’s leading natural and organic retailer. B.C.’s Whole Foods Markets are committed to their communities, sourcing locally grown products whenever possible and raising money for local charities through a variety of in-store events and programs. Visit for the latest featured products, recipes and events in your area.