Every parent wants to make sure their child is getting all the important nutrients they need. But picky eaters often turn their noses up at fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Playing up the fun factor of colorful and nutrient-packed foods can help kids with even the most discerning palates dig into what's good for them. Here's a rainbow of tasty snack ideas, perfect for lunchboxes or after school.
2 of 8Photo: John Autry
Pizza is a no-fail way to get kids to eat their vegetables. These Tomato-Baby Bell Pepper Tartlets offer two antioxidant-packed vegetables in cute little pizza-like bites. Rich in vitamin C, bell peppers also add a colorful punch to snack time.
Just 1/2 cup of raw bell pepper slices more than meets your child's needs for the day. The cherry tomatoes offer up plenty of beta-carotene, which is vital for healthy vision.
3 of 8Photo: John Autry
Bright, juicy mango is a good source of vitamin B6, which plays a role in cognitive development. Mango is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which supports healthy brain function. This luscious fruit is also the star of our Mango-Coconut Sherbet. Dairy-free coconut milk makes this a great snack for kids with lactose-intolerance as well.
Never made your own sherbet before? This one only has five ingredients, so it couldn't be simpler! Just blend the fresh mango with sugar, lime juice, and coconut milk, then pop into the freezer can of an ice cream maker and follow the directions for your machine. Top each serving with toasted coconut and you’ve got a healthy sweet treat. Add ½ cup of additional fresh fruit on top and you’re guaranteed that your kids will get a serving of fruit! Kids ages 2 to 6 need two servings of fruit each day. Older kids and teens should get three servings daily.
4 of 8Photo: Randy Mayor
A carnival of color awaits in our Tropical Fruit Salad. A medley of pineapple, star fruit, papaya, kiwi fruit, and grapes are brightened up with a little lime juice and lightly sweetened with honey. The fun shape of star fruit will tempt any child, plus this golden fruit contains the carotenoids lutein and xeaxanthin, which help to protect cells in the eye from harmful waves of light.
5 of 8Photo: Randy Mayor
Trust us, even sworn green food haters will come around with this delicious Spinach Smoothie. The banana, kiwi fruit, agave nectar, and almond milk soften the flavor of the spinach, while Greek yogurt provides a protein boost. Spinach is a plant-based powerhouse of iron, which growing kids need for building muscle and red blood cells. And the vitamin C in the kiwi helps your little one absorb the iron in the spinach. How's that for a super snack?
6 of 8Photo: Jan Smith
If you put a plate of dried figs in front of your kids, they might not be too impressed. But fig bars—now that's a different story. The store-bought ones are okay, but our Fig and Cream Cheese Bars add a rich, creamy layer of low-fat cream cheese that pairs really well with the sweet, dense fig layer and buttery crust. Antioxidant-rich figs also contain potassium and calcium, which growing muscles and bones depend on. Put out a plate of these bars and watch them disappear!
7 of 8Photo: John Autry
These hearty Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins are loaded up with sweet, antioxidant-packed blueberries. The addition of oats to this recipe ups the health factor by increasing the amount of fiber—something that kids don’t get often enough. You can easily calculate how many grams of fiber your child needs (starting at age two) by adding five to your child's age. So a 3-year-old would need 8 grams of fiber a day. These tasty muffins deliver 2.4 grams each and are excellent with a smear of almond butter on top.
8 of 8Photo: Johnny Autry
Sometimes healthy ingredients don't come in colorful packages. Take quinoa: It's tan and not the most gorgeous thing in the world, but it's an amazing meat-free source of complete protein (great for vegetarian teens). And it's also high in potassium, immune-boosting zinc, and iron. Check out more great protein picks for kids: