As any kid knows, serious playtime requires energy boosting foods that amp up your get-up-and-go. That’s why we’ve hunted around for recipes that’ll give you energy—and found a whole crop of ’em that spotlight fiber, iron, and other ingredients. Scroll on to find your new favorite fuel!

1. Healthy Sweet Potato Skins

As far as complex carbs go, sweet potatoes are top notch. They help provide a slow but steady energy boost and are high in fiber, too. The skins are especially good—which makes this recipe totally pin board-worthy. Add chickpeas, spinach, and gooey cheese and you'll have a family-wide hit. Get the recipe from A Pinch of Yum.


2. Grilled Lentil Quesadillas

Not sure if lentils will fly with your kids? Not to worry—in this recipe, they’re pureed and mixed with salsa, so they taste like refried beans. That means this pro source of protein is bound to please even picky eaters. Don’t forget a dollop of sour cream and your favorite guac! Get the recipe from Food Faith Fitness.

3. Banana Walnut Pancakes

Walnuts are at the tip-top of all nuts. That’s because they’re an awesome source of heart-healthy omega-3s and provide a hefty dose of fiber, which keeps kids fuller longer. These pancakes are billed as “life-changing,” and we’re pretty sure they’re the perfect way to start the day. (Psst! Did we mention they’re vegan and gluten-free?) Get the recipe from The Minimalist Baker.

4. One Pot Skillet Ravioli & Spinach Lasagna

If your kids are a little wary of spinach, this recipe may be just the thing to give 'em that leafy green boost. It's perfect for pasta lovers and includes 3 cups of iron-rich spinach. Best of all, this hearty meal can be done in minutes! Get the recipe from Aberdeen's Kitchen.

5. Lentil Soup

There’s a lot to love about this easy-peasy lentil soup, not the least of which is its energy boost. Lentils are a super fiber food so they can help you get a boost of steady, slow-burning energy. Make a batch of this hearty soup and fuel up before your next great adventure! Get the recipe here.

6. One Pot Broccoli Cheese Brown Rice

Whole grains can give you a whole lot of fiber and energy—which means brown rice beats white. This recipe is pure, cheesy comfort food and can be made in a snap using a single pot. It pairs great with your favorite chicken or pork recipe or as its own veggie dish. Get the recipe from Family Food on the Table

7. Slow Cooker Carrot and Apple Soup

This delish soup has Bugs Bunny’s favorite superfood veggie to fuel you throughout the day. Not only will the carrots provide immune-boosting antioxidants and vitamins, but this soup is made using the slow cooker—no muss, no fuss! Get the recipe from Foxes Love Lemons.

8. Almond Crusted Chicken

Wanna hear something nuts? Almonds are rich in fiber and protein, which help keep hunger at bay. They’re also high in magnesium, which plays a key role in converting sugar to energy. This gluten-free chicken recipe sports a fair share of almonds—and it's baked, not fried! Get the recipe from ifoodreal.

9. Lentil and Sweet Potato Tacos

Here’s the sweet thing about sweet potatoes: They contain B vitamins and are a great source of slow-releasing energy. That means they'll stave off hunger longer than your average spud. Put them in a tasty taco with lentils, which have a ton of fiber and minerals, and you’re good to go! Get the recipe here.

10. Spinach Leek Salami Quiche

We think Popeye himself would approve of this dish. The spinach contains tons of iron, which can provide a pick-me-up when you’re feeling tired, and the eggs offer a protein boost. (Psst! Use puff pastry dough to cut down on prep time.) Get the recipe here.

11. Vegetarian Energy Bowl

Dig into a bowl of colorful comfort food! This dish is loaded with brown rice, black beans, spinach, cherry tomatoes and sweet potato balls, and it's topped with a peanut sauce. It’s vegetarian, totally satisfying, and good for the whole family. Get the recipe from Kiddielicious Kitchen.

photo: Kerry Altiero

12. Roast Chops with Apples, Spuds & Cider

This cozy dish has a lot going for it. It’ll warm you up on a winter day. It’ll sneak kale into the kids' diet. And, between the protein from the pork and the fiber from the apple skins, it’ll keep you full and happy for many hours of play. Get the recipe here.

13. Southwestern Veggie Hummus Wrap

Need a quick and healthy go-to lunch? With this idea, you’ll get a lot of veggies and a good dose of protein via hummus. Plus, it’s colorful and crunchy and great for kids who like to get hands-on with their food. Get the recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron.

14. Easy Salmon & Potato Foil Packets

We love meals that involve very little cleanup, and these simple supper packets fit the bill! They’re packed with flavor and have a lot of salmon perks like omega-3s and the protein and vitamins that help convert food into energy. Get the recipe from Averie Cooks.

15. Peanut Sesame Noodles and Veggies

Peanuts for your peanuts! We’re loving the peanut-y sauce in this recipe from Super Healthy Kids. Best of all, this dish only takes about 10 minutes to make! Get the recipe here.

16. Baked Egg Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Wowza! Talk about a feast for the eyes—and a boost for your energy. You’ll get vitamins and protein with this sweet potato/egg dish, but you can also customize with toppings and make it as pretty (and tasty) as you want. Get the recipe from Running with Spoons.

17. Brown Rice Pilaf with Roasted Broccoli and Toasted Almonds

Brown rice can help you maintain energy all day, and this genius pilaf is a great way to serve it. We especially love that there's broccoli and almonds in there too, so it’s healthy all around. Get the recipe from Handful of Raspberries.

18. Brown Sugar Banana Overnight Oats

Take breakfast to the next level with fiber-filled food! Together, oats and bananas offer fiber, B vitamins, and potassium—nutrients that promote sustained energy. These overnight oats are super simple to make and a real treat during busy mornings. Get the recipe from SoFabFood.

What’s your favorite energy-boosting food? Share with us in a comment below. 

—Abigail Matsumoto

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winter recipes