Healthy and Kid-Friendly Holiday Meals

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

The holiday season is a time of giving, socializing, and eating for all ages. Decorative menus and elegant beverages are fun for adults. But what seasonal foods will the kids enjoy? And how do you make them healthy? If you’re planning to include the whole family in this year’s festivities, read on for some ideas to contribute to a more kid-friendly holiday spread.

Create a build-your-own food station

This is easiest if you’re hosting at your own home, but not impossible to take somewhere else. Kids love using their imagination to build things they can eat. One way to do this is by setting up a pizza station with tortillas, sauce, cheese, and a variety of toppings. Include healthy choices like chopped vegetables, slices of pineapple, and even beans.

Incorporate plenty of finger foods

Kids flock to things they can pick up easily and eat with their own hands. Pinwheels make great holiday dishes that even young kids can eat independently. Spread cream cheese or hummus on tortillas, layer them with avocado and veggies, roll them up and cut them. Even things like cinnamon rolls can be made smaller and a bit healthier by using whole wheat flour, reducing the sugar, and adding walnuts and dates.

Make it colorful

Kids are attracted to things with a pop of color. Offering colorful foods is a great way to get kids to enjoy more fruits and vegetables during the holidays. For instance, you could fill a large, round tray with chopped produce and lay them out in order of the colors of the rainbow.

Emphasize the dips and spreads

Youngsters (and adults, too) are more likely to try something new if there’s a dip involved. Thinly sliced veggie sticks or whole grain crackers can be great vehicles for healthier dips, like hummus, guacamole, salsa, or a white bean spread.

Make it creative

Foods made into shapes or designs are also a fun way for kids to fill their plates. Snack foods can be presented in the form of holiday themes, like snowman-shaped biscuits, a wreath made with broccoli, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and black olives, or green apples sliced and laid out in the shape of a star.

For more kid-friendly ideas and holiday-themed recipes, visit your local in-store ShopRite dietitian or head over to ShopRite.com.