food in jarsSometimes when you're looking to improve your child's diet, it can be rather daunting, especially when your kid has a favorite dish that isn't the most healthy. We all know that cutting out their favorite food isn't always met with happy results.

But you don't have to cut it out -- well just the unhealthy parts of it. So rather than overhauling your diet altogether, let's look at healthy food swaps kids will still like and maybe not even notice. All while we avoid getting sucked into the baby and "kid food" trap.

Peanut butter: Ever look at the ingredients in peanut butter? Some have hydrogenated oils or mono- or diglycerides -- it's really not as good for you as you'd think.

The baby step swap: Buy natural peanut butters that just contain peanuts and maybe salt.

The leap: Use the grinder machines and make your own peanut or almond butter right there in the store, or you can even do it at home in a food processor. (The grinder type is normally cheaper than the store brand!)

crackersCrackers: Most crackers not only contain high-fructose corn syrup, but high sodium and sugar and little to no real nutrition.

The baby step swap: Buy whole grain crackers and avoid HFCS.

The leap: Make your own crackers with sprouted wheat flour and whole seeds, such as sesame seeds, and flaxseed oil.

dried fruitsPuffs or fruit snacks: Neither of these really accomplishes anything good, and the added vitamins are usually cancelled out by the sugars, chemicals, and food coloring.

The baby step swap: Buy some dried fruits that still melt in the mouth, but read the label to make sure they don't have added chemicals, too.

The leap: Buy a good dehydrator and make your own dried fruit. It's AMAZING how good it tastes -- you'll never go back. Also, whole fruit like grapes and berries are still good, ya know.

fresh juiceJuice: Most juice has all the fiber processed out, so what's left really is mostly liquid candy, without the vitamin C the fruits originally had.

The baby step swap: Buy the straight-up pureed juices, generally in the organic aisle, that need to be watered down and often are only "lightly pasteurized."

The leap: Make your own, or just don't drink it at all. Eating the fruit itself is way better for you, and you can drop some frozen berries or cucumber slices in water if you'd like a little flavor.

These are just some ideas to get you started, but there are so many ways you can take baby steps or leaps to a healthier diet for your whole family. Check out healthy food sites for kids like Weelicious and start swapping out one or two ingredients or foods here and there, and before you know it, your whole shopping trip will be different.

What healthy food swaps have you made for your baby or toddler?

 

Image via Justin and Elise/Flickr; little blue hen/Flickr; saitowitz/Flickr; Liz/Flickr