Fast food for children does not necessarily have to be unhealthy. There are many nutritious alternatives and tasty recipes for child-friendly and healthy fast food.
Many studies show that too much classic fast food can be harmful to health–especially for children and adolescents. They’re still growing and need a balanced and nutritious diet. Fast food dishes or special “children’s foods” often contain too much sugar, salt, fat and additives such as flavor enhancers and colorings.
They often provide a lot of calories and overconsumption of these indulgences can lead to child obesity. 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 it only provides a few vitamins and minerals. Even if you don’t always have time to cook, you can still bring healthy fast food for children to the table.
Our tips for a healthy fast food for children
- Prepare tasty finger food
- 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 many things: from hot dogs to cheeseburgers, kebabs, pizzas and French fries to sandwiches, vegetable sticks, granola bars, fruit or smoothies. It could be anything you eat quickly. But fast food does not necessarily have to be sugar-rich and low in vitamins. Healthy alternatives are becoming increasingly popular. In big cities, the market is booming with healthy snacks to-go.
For example, sushi, vegetarian vegetable burgers, whole grain sandwiches, veggie wraps, fresh salads, finely chopped fruit in cups or kebab in whole grain flatbread 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
If you are away from home, you can often choose between different offers. Try to find dishes with lots of vegetables/fruit and as natural a food as possible. There’s usually an inverse relationship between a food’s processing and vitamin density.
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 offers 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. Combining such a fast food dish with salad and mineral water or homemade lemonade is an easy way to cut back on sugar consumption.
Homemade healthy fast food for children
You also can do fast food on your own. You can quickly and easily prepare delicious roasted vegetables, whole grain sandwiches or wraps in your own kitchen. Why not try some healthy fast food you’ve prepared yourself at home? Then you can customize to your family’s tastes.
Children are particularly willing to try if they can decide and prepare their own food. Fast food for children becomes healthy with fresh vegetables or a side salad and fish or poultry meat, for example. You can also 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.
Kids love finger food
Children also love small snacks that can go straight from hand to mouth. Fruits and vegetables for snacking are also very popular. Especially in a community, food is often eaten that is less popular at home. 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 provide valuable healthy fats
Nuts are also a healthy and natural alternative to the classic snacks, chocolate bars, and other sweets. Although nuts are considered to be “fatteners” due to their high-fat content, they bear this title wrongly.
On the one hand the average nut consumption is only a few grams per day and on the other hand, nuts contain 42 – 73% fat, protein, and fiber, which have a satiating effect, so you feel fuller longer. 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 (for children) is fine. However, children should not eat nuts, peanuts, and almonds until they are about 4 years old, as there is a risk of suffocation beforehand. Nuts easily get into the windpipe while snacking and can trigger an acute risk of suffocation.
Recipe ideas for healthy fast food for kids
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
Ingredients for four hamburgers:
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2-5 oz ground beef per person (use organic if possible)
- salt and pepper
- 4 whole grain rolls
- 8 slices tomato
- 4 thin slices onion (as desired)
- 3 pickles, sliced
- 4 salad leaves, washed
- Mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise on request
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 whole grain cereal flakes for your base. Then mix in chopped nuts, millet, dried fruit, flax seed, sesame etc. as desired.
You can also prepare your favorite muesli as gluten-free muesli with amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, corn etc. You can soak the breakfast portion overnight in some water “overnight oats” effect to aid in digestion. In the morning you can 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? Share your recipes in the FamilyApp!