There is a middle ground between, "My kids eat the exact same meals we do! Pâté for all!" and "Plain pasta with butter, please." We have found that pasta dishes like the ones listed below—with chunks of healthy, delicious ingredients that can also be separated out, if necessary—are most successful in our house. Everyone eats, and we aren't cooking two meals.
Some kids will pick out the green vegetables or beans and just eat the pasta. Mine does that occasionally, but I've also found that she's more likely to eat the broccoli or chickpeas or what have you if it's in a separate pile. She's not into mixed-up foods.
What I like about these pastas is that most have some sort of sauce or pesto coating the noodles, so if your kid will only eat the pasta, she's getting a little something added in, even if it's just tomatoes. And they all represent a nice, well-balanced meal for her parents.
• 1. Pasta with Cauliflower, Sausage, and Breadcrumbs. Chunks of cauliflower and sausage are super simple to pick out of pasta. And both are usually agreeable to a toddler.
• 2. Pasta with Mint Pesto, Peas, and Ricotta Salata. A beautiful, fresh pesto to introduce a new flavor on a familiar turf.
• 3. Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale. Kale can be a tough one, but I find it's more palatable than spinach (weird, I know, but spinach can get slimy or stringy and be hard to swallow for really young kids).
• 4. Rapini with Orecchiette and White Beans. Beans are a great addition to pasta—almost like meat—and are easy for little fingers to grab.
• 5. Cold Peanut Sesame Noodles. The sauce is hearty and the chicken already comes on top, not mixed in.
• 6. Edamame & Cauliflower Pasta Salad with Feta. Three good-for-you ingredients that go well together or separately.
• 7. Squash, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Pasta. If goat cheese is a little strong, try cubes of mozzarella. I'd leave the raw basil off of my kid's plate.
• 8. How to Make Meatballs. Meatballs: the easiest thing to pull off a bowl of pasta. And delicious on their own.
Related: 10 Easy Pasta Dishes with Bacon
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