Fast food for children doesn’t necessarily have to be unhealthy. Here are a few of the many nutritious alternatives and tasty recipes for healthy fast food for kids.
Fast food often gets a bad rap, and it’s easy to see why. Traditional fast food often contains quite a few empty calories. A hot dog with french fries and a large glass of lemonade can easily cover more than half of your child’s daily calorie requirements, but that meal only provides a few vitamins and minerals.
It’s hard balancing the needs of your family and feeding everyone nutritious food. But even if you don’t always have time to cook, you can still bring healthy fast food for children to the table.
Here are a few tips for healthy fast food for kids
- Prepare tasty finger foods
- Provide nuts
- Create your own fries from the oven
- Make your own burger
- Make your own muesli
Fast Food Outside the House
Fast food can be pretty much anything you can eat quickly and on-the-go. But fast food doesn’t necessarily have to be sugar-rich and low in vitamins. Healthy alternatives are becoming increasingly popular, and it’s just as easy to grab healthy snacks to-go.
For example, sushi, vegetarian vegetable burgers, whole grain sandwiches, veggie wraps, fresh salads, finely chopped fruit in cups, or a kebab with lean protein and veggies can be great options!
Will your children eat these alternatives? That might depend on your family’s eating habits. If you only eat fish and chips at home, it will be hard to be enthusiastic about the fresh salad. However, if parents provide their children with a healthy diet, bring variety to the table, and let the child try many different foods, there is a good chance that a child will like to eat healthy foods.
Fast Food with Lots of Vegetables
Even on the go, you can still get a good dose of phytonutrients! Try to find dishes with whole foods and as many vegetables/fruit as possible. There’s usually an inverse relationship between a food’s processing and vitamin density, so try to go for foods that are pretty close to their natural state.
Some great options while dining out include fresh salads with dressing or fresh smoothies (just make sure they’re made with quality ingredients–NOT ice cream or sugary syrup!).
Japanese and Chinese cuisine often offer many dishes with lots of vegetables–just limit your tempura shrimp and fried rice! Large fast-food chains are also increasingly offering healthier alternatives and menus with fruit for children. So opt for apple slices over french fries or grilled nuggets from Chick-fil-A over fried choices. Be sure to drink water or milk instead of a sugary soda, too!
Homemade Healthy Fast Food for Children
There are also plenty of delicious and quick options you can make at home! Roasted vegetables, whole-grain sandwiches or wraps in your own kitchen are great options you can tweak to your family’s specific tastes.
Children are particularly willing to try if they can decide and prepare their own food with you. Fast food for children becomes healthy with fresh vegetables or a side salad and fish or poultry meat, for example. Enjoy a homemade pizza with the right toppings without a guilty conscience. Instead of a lot of cheese and fatty pepperoni, you can include a lot of fresh vegetables like tomatoes, and mushrooms. Make your own pizza dough from whole grain flour to provide more valuable fiber and minerals than traditional pizza dough. Or purchase a pre-made cauliflower pizza dough to boost your veggie content.
Have Fun with Finger Food
Children also love small snacks they can eat with their fingers. Veggie sticks made from peppers, carrots, or cucumber slices are just as easy and fun to eat as sliced apples or mouthful fruits such as strawberries, or cherry tomatoes as fast food in between meals.
In addition to fresh fruit, you can also offer dried fruit such as banana chips or freeze-dried strawberries. Dried fruits contain a relatively high percentage of sugar, since the water has been extracted and all the ingredients are concentrated, but they also contain many vitamins and minerals. These are a great alternative to cookies or sugary snacks!
Nuts Offer Great Healthy Fast Food for Kids
Nuts are also a healthy and natural alternative to the classic snacks, chocolate bars, and other sweets. They usually contain a lot of healthy fats, so they’ll help you stay full. Nutritionally regarded nuts have a very good fatty acid composition. Walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, and more are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Nuts also contain significant amounts of secondary plant substances, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, and potassium. As a quick snack in between, a handful of nuts is fine. However, be careful about nuts for small children, since they can pose a choking hazard. Nuts easily get into the windpipe while snacking and can trigger an acute risk of suffocation.
Recipe Ideas for Healthy Fast Food for Kids
Healthy fast food for kids is substantial, delicious and – most important – easy to make. Get inspired with our recipe ideas!
Oven-Baked French Fries
For each person cut about one cup of potato slices. You can peel the potatoes beforehand or proceed with the skin as desired. Then pour the cut potatoes into a bowl, add a tablespoon of olive or avocado oil and stir. Preheat the oven to 425 °F, place the chips on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for about 30 minutes. Then add salt, paprika powder, or another favorite seasoning.
Healthy Hamburgers With Whole Grain Rolls
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 2-5 oz ground beef per person (use organic if possible)
- salt and pepper
- 4 whole grain rolls
- 8 sliced tomato
- 4 sliced onion (as desired)
- 3 sliced pickles
- 4 leaves lettuce, washed
- Salt the minced meat in a bowl and pepper lightly, knead and form flat burger patties. Fry the burger slices in a pan from both sides. Meanwhile, cut the whole grain rolls in half and place them on a baking tray or toaster with the inside facing down and pan-fry briefly. Remove and place a salad leaf on the lower half of each roll. Place burgers on top and spread with mustard if desired. Cover with two tomato slices, one onion slice and three to four cucumber slices each. Add ketchup and mayonnaise as desired and place the top half of the roll on top.(NOTE-- you can also just put your burgers directly on the grill without the extra oil. Turn it on high and cook on each side for about 5 minutes depending on the size of your patties.)
Fast, Fiber-Rich Homemade Breakfast Cereal
Instead of ready-mades sugar-rich cereals, you can easily make your own muesli or granola. Start with oat flakes or other cereal flakes for your base. Then mix in chopped nuts, millet, dried fruit, flaxseed, sesame, etc. as desired.
You can also prepare your favorite muesli as gluten-free muesli with amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, or corn. You can soak the breakfast portion overnight in some water “overnight oats” effect to aid in digestion. In the morning, serve the muesli according to your taste with fresh fruit like strawberries, apple, kiwi or mango and milk, yogurt, fruit juice, or almond milk. Enjoy your meal!
What is your favorite healthy fast food for kids? Share your recipes in the FamilyApp!