Open Accessibility Menu

Nourishing swaps: wholesome substitutes for cooking with kids

Nourishing swaps: wholesome substitutes for cooking with kids

Sometimes the tastiest foods aren’t exactly the healthiest options. Because healthy eating doesn’t always seem kid friendly, childhood obesity affects today’s children now more than ever before. During the summer it's easy to settle for convenience, but that doesn’t mean we can’t encourage kids to eat well. Childhood Obesity Week is June 3-9 this year, and we’ve asked Children’s Hospital dietitian, Elise Friend, to give some healthy tips, tricks, and swaps to make to promote healthy eating for kids this summer!  

Easy Swaps 

Here are some easy substitutes from a dietitian you can make while cooking that will reinforce a healthy diet:  

  1. Apple sauce in place of oil for baking 

  1. Pureed avocado for butter or oil 

  1. Plain Greek yogurt in place of mayo or sour cream 

  1. Grated zucchini or carrot or canned pumpkin in muffins or bread to increase veggies  

  1. Blend and freeze cottage cheese to make popsicles/ice cream 

  1. Freeze grapes or berries for snacks instead of fruit gummies  

  1. Honey or maple syrup in place of white sugar 

Tips & Tricks 

Here are 6 tips from a dietitian for promoting healthy lifestyles and meal choices for children and teens: 

  1. Recommend having at least 3 different colors on their plate.  

  1. Offer a fruit or a vegetable with each meal.  

  1. Encourage at least 2/3 food groups on the plate. The 3 main groups for kids are protein, grain, and fruit or vegetable.  

  1. Remove all screens from the eating environment.  

  1. Screen time should be limited to <2 hours daily.  

  1. All meals and snacks should be consumed at the table (screen-free). Engage in conversation with your child/teen while they eat a snack or meal.  

  1. Make sure your child is getting adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation (< 7 hours of sleep a night) is a risk factor for obesity due to less physical activity from fatigue, increased fat storage in the belly area, higher body mass index, poorer quality diet, and decreased insulin sensitivity.  

There are many external and internal challenges to staying healthy, but it’s so important to promote a healthy lifestyle for kids to help them grow! Take some time this summer to involve kids in the kitchen, grow your own veggies, and cook with all the colors of the rainbow to help keep your kids well.