Healthy Thanksgiving Dishes for Kids
Every year we gather with friends and family all across the country for Thanksgiving day. We all have our favorite parts of meeting up- that could mean meeting the newest members of the family, getting in a great multi-generational game of charades or staying up late chatting with our cousins. But one thing we all share is our excitement for sitting down to a great meal together.
As nourishing as it is emotionally, Thanksgiving is also the kickoff of a very rich eating season. As adults, we all make our own allowances for extra calories and cocktails, with the expectation that we will “work it off” in January for our New Year’s resolutions. What we don’t always think about is the other side of the room at the kid’s table. As parents and relatives we have a responsibility to present healthy eating choices to our kids, no matter the occasion.
While turkey and vegetable sides are basics, think about having some kid-friendly options to serve during the smaller courses, with an emphasis on clean, nutritious eating.
Make a mini-charcuterie for the younger crowd! Make a festive spread boasting fun foods like goldfish crackers, cheese sticks, bear-shaped cookies and dried fruit. Children love to graze just as much as all of us. Round out your board with finger-friendly vegetables like celery sticks, baby carrots, cucumber rounds and baby corn served with mild dips like hummus or a simple cheese spread.
Leave the sodas and sugary “juices” behind this year. Make a huge batch of infused water, flavored with fresh fruit or herbs. While the addition of herbs could seem intimidating to little palates, you may be surprised. A basil, peach and lemon water is a refreshing drink for any age group. It also provides an interesting alternative to anyone who abstains from alcohol.
You can experiment with any other flavors, and the use of sparkling water. For a fun hot drink, make a pitcher of natural cider infused with warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
Although everyone should get a piece of grandma’s famous pie, usually a little sliver will suffice. For the rest of the after-dinner picking and chatting with coffee, use fruit as your focus.
Chocolate-covered fruit is as easy as picking your favorites and making use of a double-boiler or a microwavable dipping kit. Go way beyond strawberries - try some mango slices, bananas, figs, melon and more!
If you have the space and patience, let guests create their own parfaits with frozen yogurt, sliced fruit and nuts.
In general, you can also go a long way to a healthier dessert by just cutting out some of the white sugar called for in the recipe. Typically adding frozen berries or natural sweeteners like honey can create a lovely dessert with less empty calories and more nutrition.
“Kid-friendly” doesn’t mean much more than being palatable, easy to eat and featuring simple flavors. While these are perfect choices for your family’s youngest members, you may inspire your older relatives to enjoy these healthy and tasty dishes as well.