Healthy Pasta Dishes Kids Will Love

Kids love pasta, so pile on the healthy toppings. Our five recipes show you how.

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Paula Hible

When you're deciding what to make for dinner and checking off prerequisites in your head-Is it fast? Is it healthy? Will the kids eat it?-pasta is a surprisingly good pick. "Unlike the simple carbs in sweets, pasta's complex carbs provide steady energy so kids aren't hungry an hour after dinner," says Stacey Finch, R.D., a nutritionist at Arkansas Children's Hospital, in Little Rock. Plus, noodles are full of fiber and folic acid. You'll want to offer a variety of sauces and toppings too. Even kids who love their mac with cheese will usually try healthier options. So to the same old pasta dishes, say, "Ciao, baby!"


Shrimp Nests


Standout Nutrient: Omega-3s

These fatty acids are healthy for a kid's brain, eyes, and heart. And shrimp is a low-mercury choice.

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Family Dinners: 4 Tips To Make Them Better

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Toddler Pasta

Paula Hible

Toddler Pasta

Standout Nutrient: Folic acid

This B vitamin-important during pregnancy and childhood-is in both the pasta and the veggies.

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Rainbow Rotini

Paula Hible

Rainbow Rotini

Standout Nutrient: Protein

Thanks to the chicken and beans, your kids will get the lean protein they need to build strong muscles.

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Ravioli Soup

Paula Hible

Ravioli Soup

Standout Nutrient: Vitamin C

It's a pleasant change from chicken noodle and offers kids at least as many immune-boosting nutrients.

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Veggie Penne

Paula Hible

Veggie Penne

Standout Nutrient: Vitamin A

You can pack extra heart-healthy fiber and vitamin A into the sauce by adding carrots-and your kids won't notice.

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Shape Up!

Bryan McCay

Shape Up!

Whole-grain pasta has never tasted better-and looked like so much fun. Our for-kids picks:


Baby's First


Tiny pastina is perfect for babies 9 months and up. Earth's Best makes the only whole-grain version.

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Veggies Included

Bryan McCay

Veggies Included

Putney Pasta's whole-wheat cheese ravioli has spinach cleverly hidden inside so kids get more vitamin A.

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Gluten Free

Bryan McCay

Gluten Free

Unlike most brands for children who can't tolerate wheat, Mrs. Leeper's Just for Kids Pasta is made with healthier brown rice.


Originally published in the February 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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