As every parent knows, getting kids to eat is a small victory, whether due to the fickleness of their developing palates, a fear of the unfamiliar, or short attention spans. So when it comes to making their favorite foods slightly healthier, we say take the path of least resistance: tweaks instead of overhauls.
One of the biggest dinnertime battles parents face is trying to get kids to eat their vegetables. But creating positive associations is possible if you integrate them with foods that they already love and naturally gravitate toward. Kids have loved the great taste of HEINZ ketchup for decades, and parents can feel good about serving SIMPLY HEINZ Ketchup because it’s made with natural ingredients such as red ripe tomatoes and pure cane sugar. Read on for smart tips to help kids eat up with a smile.
Baked Chicken Fingers
Despite the fact that kids generally need a higher-fat diet than adults, instilling good habits early is important for when their metabolism changes. Presenting healthier alternatives of their favorite foods in a familiar way with positive associations will put them on the road to making sensible choices as adults — without missing any of the fun. Instead of deep-frying chicken tenders, try baking them instead. They won't know the difference, especially when they're served up with a side of SIMPLY HEINZ Ketchup.
Veggie-Packed Grilled Cheese
Children taste bitterness more strongly than adults do, particularly in calcium-rich vegetables like greens — which also contain high levels of bitter-tasting but healthy compounds like phenols and flavonoids. While repeated exposure to these tastes can overcome children's evolutionary response to these tastes ("Bitterness equals poison!"), their taste buds are way behind those of their parents, who are happily heaping on seconds.
One way to make vegetables more palatable is by adding them to the foods kids love, like grilled cheese, and hiding their bitter taste with delicious Simply HEINZ Ketchup. With just the basics — ripe red tomatoes, vinegar, real sugar, salt, and a blend of spices — it's an easy way to make the taste of veggies blend into a basic grilled cheese recipe, thereby instantly elevating its nutritional content. Try adding baby spinach, tomato for color, and red onion for crunch.
Another important scientific reason that kids show disinterest in vegetables is that they have vastly different energy needs than adults. Growing takes a lot of calories, which is why kids instinctively turn to foods that are high in fat and sugar rather than foods with less energy return.
It's no coincidence, then, that cheese and meat are winners. But making a simple burger that's nutritious as well as delicious is easy with Simply HEINZ Ketchup. Squash, bell peppers, and even kale become almost undetectable in a bun that's liberally spread with Simply HEINZ Ketchup. As exposure is key to turning veggie tolerance into veggie love, experiment until your child is happily loading up their burger with veggies themselves.