Serving a delicious meal is one way to bring about a child’s brilliant smile. A single meal that is delicious and healthy is a rarity, however. Taking tiny increments towards healthy eating for kids can make the arduous task much easier. We’ll start with the infamously hard food group that kids just can’t seem to stomach, vegetables.

A child’s ideal snack food certainly doesn’t consist of anything healthy, let alone a vegetable. Unlike adult taste buds, a child’s taste buds are bright and can pick up on the most subtle of flavors in food. Disguising a helping of vegetables within another food item is an excellent way to sneak in your child’s daily recommended servings. Baked goods are unique in that the sugar allows us to mask a cup of carrot or beet pulp within them, as the pulp creates a moist and flavorful (but not too overwhelming) experience. My own beet-pulp muffins are a hit with young and old alike, and the kids don’t even know they’re eating vegetables until we point it out to them!

Pulps aren’t the only way to sneak vegetables into your child’s diet. Vegetables at dinnertime are largely ignored for meat or carbohydrate options. Lasagnas and marinaras and their red coloring disguise vegetables in the best way, and the sauce usually disguises most of the taste - spinach is a family favorite. If it’s not too difficult to get your child to eat salads, dark, leafy green salads with a sweeter dressing that cuts the sharp taste of the bitter veggies offer a huge nutritional boost.

If your family eats meat, consider buying free range beef, pork, and chicken. Free range meat is left to its own devices in fields and farms, making the meat softer with less fat and the animals are never exposed to harsh chemicals that can transfer into the meat. Organic eggs are also larger, with thicker yolks and an unproven but reportedly higher count of healthy fats. Milk is a staple on all of our shopping lists, and switching to organic milk has the same benefits as free range meat. While many opt for the slimming two percent milk, this is not recommended for kids - milk is one of the few foods with healthy fat cells fundamental to a child’s development.

With many essential vitamins and minerals, olive oil can be used in the place of butter whenever applicable to cooking, and contributes heartily to a child’s healthy eating. If you’d like to take the oil implement one step further, sesame and coconut oil are trickier to cook with, but also provide varied benefits. High grade coconut oil really shines as a substitute for butter when used in baking.

Finally, an important part of healthy eating for kids are the proportions. It is recommended that the meat is outweighed by twice as much vegetables and about the same portion of carbs. This ratio and the directions may seem ludicrous to follow, but the ratio allows for the maximum good stuff to be eaten by your child, with less of the unhealthy fats. Healthy eating for kids should be fun, fresh, and colorful - there’s an old chef adage that the more colorful the plate, the more nutrients it contains.