*This post was sponsored by Hampton Creek. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*
Would you like to see children actually eating some dinner at your Thanksgiving gathering? When young children get together in a large group with unfamiliar relatives, they are usually too distracted by different surroundings and people to eat Thanksgiving dinner. Their hunger sets in, and later when the desserts are set out, all inhibitions go away and they overeat sweets. Then you get to go home with a child who is wired out on sweets or is sick with a stomach ache.
Let’s try to reverse the trend this year and focus on kid friendly dinner options that actually capture their attention and get healthy food in their stomachs. To make the workload a little lighter, you can plan many of the ingredients to overlap with the adult version of the Thanksgiving meal. Here are some ideas for kid friendly Thanksgiving dishes.
A Cheesy Side Dish
This Three Cheese Mini Macs recipe is a hit with all ages and is scaled small by baking it in mini muffin tins so it will not overwhelm the little ones. Most everyone loves baked macaroni and cheese, so this will be a popular side dish. With its small size and crowd appeal, this dish could also be used as an appetizer for everyone to snack on while the turkey is cooking.
Veggies With Dip
Some kids do well with plain veggie sticks, but others do not like the hardness of the raw. To broaden the appeal of the vegetable sticks and make them kid friendly, steam blanch the vegetables for two to three minutes, then plunge into ice water. Great vegetables to use are green beans, carrots, and child size broccoli florets. The vegetables will still be crunchy but will not be as hard as the raw version.
For an easy and tasty dip that is also healthy, try Just Ranch dressing from Hampton Creek. It is ready to go right out of the container, which means that it is one less thing to prepare during a day that is spent in the kitchen. In addition to this dressing being tasty and great right out of the container, it is egg, dairy, soy, and gluten free so it can be enjoyed by the members of your group with allergies or food restrictions.
This selection traffics on the huge success of childhood cuisine called the chicken nugget. To make turkey into this successful format, cut rounds of cooked turkey out with a small cookie or ravioli cutter. Whisk together a few tablespoons of milk or milk substitute with a couple tablespoons of honey and dip the nuggets in the mixture. Then add breading by dipping each coated nugget into a bowl of panko crumbs. Broil lightly until the panko gets golden. The vegetable dip can also do double duty as a nugget dip.
Ice Cream Mashed Potatoes
Who wants ice cream? It is uncanny how you can make the same mashed potatoes that you will serve to the adults look like vanilla ice cream for the young children by using an ice cream scoop and some creative presentation. Make sure that the mashed potato mixture is stiff enough to portion out well with an ice cream scoop. Served by itself in small bowls, it looks more like a dessert than a side dish. Adventurous kids can pretend that the gravy is caramel sauce.
A Healthy Muffin
This Healthy Pumpkin Muffin recipe would be a great alternative to a dinner roll for young children. Lightly sweetened with applesauce and maple syrup, these baked goods make an appealing vehicle for nutritious pumpkin and whole grains. Another great thing about this recipe is that it can be made ahead so you have one less thing to do on the big day. If you are hosting guests for the whole weekend, make a double batch and serve for a fall themed breakfast the next morning.
When preparing and serving foods for young children, simple is often best. Many of the regular Thanksgiving staples will appeal to them with sauces or dressings served on the side. When in doubt if youngsters will like your cousin’s sausage dressing or your sister’s vinaigrette salad, it may be a good idea to whip up a couple of these dinner ideas to make sure no one goes hungry.