You may have heard of the term ‘superfoods’, but what are they? These are foods that are packed with nutrients including antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Often, children are picky eaters and you may never expect them to eat a superfood. Not true!
Here are some of my favorites that are good for you and your children, and that your children will love:
Winter squash is a great source of vitamin A, which is good for your eyes. You can puree it for babies and most babies love it. Add some cinnamon to it and your older kids will love it, too.
Brussel sprouts, believe it or not, many children love. They are so good for you! They are a good source of vitamin C, which is good for your immune system; as well as vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting; plus fiber, which is good for digestion. They also contain iron. Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on brussel sprouts, and roast or bake them in the oven – they are delicious. Your kids will enjoy them. Adding ketchup makes them tasty, too.
Dates are sweet, so kids rarely say no to them. They are high in fiber, which is good for digestion, and are also low in fat. They are also a good source of potassium, which supports the nervous system. Dates are great for baking, especially in dessert recipes. They are also great to eat by themselves for dessert. Break them into very small pieces and remove the pits. These are a great, low fat treat for you and your children.
Cauliflower is a great source of vitamin C, which is good for your immune system. Many kids actually love it plain and steamed, or with ketchup. Mashed or pureed cauliflower works well for younger children and babies.
Grapefruit is an excellent source of Vitamin C. Puree for babies, or you can use a mesh feeder (although beware because that gets messy). As they get older, feeding from a spoon is all you need. Be sure to remove the pits. Grapefruit is tart, but many kids surprisingly love them! Add a tiny bit of maple syrup or yogurt to it, and they may like it even more.
Kale is a more popular food recently. It is a high source of Vitamin K, and high in the antioxidant beta-carotene. Kale chips for toddlers are a great way to get them to this leafy green. Simply coat with olive oil, a light sprinkle of salt, and then bake. Your children will love these healthy chips!
Between meals, children love their snacks. Keep their snacks healthy! There are many easy ways to do this.
Here are some elements of healthy, great snacks for your children:
Limit snacks high in sugar, such as cookies, soda, juice. These all tend to have little nutrients and are high in empty calories. Stick to water or seltzer. Limit juice and soda – if you must have them – to special occasions. I would suggest not even having them in the home, as then they won’t be missed.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. The best are the carbohydrates that are also high in fiber, which keeps your child fuller for longer. Some good sources are bananas and apples, which are great snacks. Complex carbohydrates are broken down more slowly, too, so whole grains and cereals are examples of good carbohydrates that have less sugar than refined grains, such as white rice and flour. Because they are absorbed more slowly, they provide more lasting energy too.
Other snacks with high fiber include peanut butter and raisins. Peanut butter on celery is always popular with children. Raisins are also a good source of energy since they have natural sugars.
Also choose snacks with protein. Protein keeps energy high. Snacks such as hard-boiled eggs, milk and nuts are good sources.
Choose snacks with calcium. Calcium is important in the growing years for your children’s bones and teeth. Examples include yogurt and cheese. These snacks also include carbohydrates and protein, respectively, that will keep the energy high, as mentioned earlier.
Starting a healthy diet in the early years helps your child develop a lifetime of eating healthy food options!
Ali is a board certified pediatrician who practiced general pediatrics for five years in a busy private practice in Manhattan NY. She since has moved into the pharmaceutical industry and oversees and mentors many physicians globally. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences as a pediatrician with other moms and dads. Ali’s outside interests include working out, acting, piano, guitar, dance and being a mom! Ali currently lives in NYC with her husband, 3 year old daughter and 1 year old son.
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