Buying and preparing in-season produce is part and parcel of maintaining a healthy diet, but it’s much easier to eat nutritiously when the whole family is on board. In a world full of boxed mac and cheese and freezer-friendly chicken nuggets, we can understand why packaged or prepared foods are a reliable fallback. But we’re hopeful that the right seasonings and preparation methods can turn arugula, carrots, spinach and more into healthy homemade dishes for the whole family to enjoy. Here are six recipes that incorporate spring produce in ways that will appeal to even the pickiest eaters.
Getting kids to eat their greens can be the biggest hurdle of the day, but this Quinoa Salad with Apricots, Basil and Pistachios makes crisp, peppery arugula appetizing for younger palates. Combine the seasonal green with fluffy quinoa, sweet dried apricots and dollops of tangy goat cheese and you’ll hear zero protests when the dish hits the table.
This creamy Avocado Hummus will come in handy when you’re looking for new ways to add a touch of green to your child’s lunchbox or dinner plate. Simply puree ripe avocados with hummus, lemon juice and a pinch of salt — you can even add some jalapeno to the mix if your kids are feeling particularly adventurous — and serve the dip with raw veggies.
Nothing instills more fear at dinnertime than knobby carrots, flecked with dirt, looming ominously on top of the kitchen counter. If your kids turn up their noses at the sight of full-grown carrots, then try these approachable Roasted Baby Carrots seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs.
Ellie Krieger’s chunky Mango Salsa pairs well with pretty much any protein — grilled chicken, slow-cooked pork and seasoned ground beef are all excellent places to start. You can even serve it as an after-school snack with crisp tortilla chips for scooping.
Soft basmati rice and tender spring peas team up to create a satisfying side dish that will go over well with kids averse to foods with firmer textures. Bobby Flay’s Basmati Rice Pilaf with Peas has just 5 grams of fat and 2 grams of sugar per serving, so you can feel good about serving this.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone under the age of 25 who enjoys raw spinach — or any green, for that matter. Ellie turns the tender green leaves into an indulgent Creamed Spinach that’s appealing, especially for young eaters. Have no fear: Using 1-percent milk and fat-free evaporated milk helps to keep the calorie count low.
For more in-season side dishes that kids will love, check out these recipes from our friends:
Creative Culinary: Cheesy Hashbrown Waffles
Devour: Alternative Fries That Will Make Everyone Want to Eat Their Vegetables
The Lemon Bowl: Grilled Corn with Barbecue Sauce
FN Dish: Why Spring Is the Best Time to Get Kids to Eat Their Veggies