Getting kids to eat right can be a challenge, especially when families are running on a tight schedule! So here are seven foods that do double time — kids love them and they are super healthy!
- 1. Oatmeal: A fast breakfast food, full of B vitamins, iron, zinc and calcium. Old-fashioned oatmeal offers plenty of carbohydrate for quick energy and high fiber. Add berries and honey to make it a delicious, perfect food for those fast-paced school-day mornings. Skip the packaged flavored oats that can be very high in sugar, artificial colorings, and artificial flavoring. Plain instant oats in the round carton cook just as fast as the flavored packets.
- 2. Yogurt is a tasty way to kick your child’s dairy consumption up a notch and include yogurt on the menu. A great source of calcium, yogurt is easier to digest than regular milk, and the cultures (check the label to make sure they’re in there!) are very beneficial to good colon health. Pass on the “kids” yogurt and just buy low-fat plain yogurt. Sweeten it yourself with fresh or frozen fruit and just one teaspoon of honey or granulated sugar.
- 3. Broccoli is one of the best vegetables for anyone, especially growing kids. It has loads of vitamin C, folate, and contains calcium along with good levels of variety of the B vitamins. Most kids like the taste of broccoli, just be sure not to overcook — it can have a sulfurous odor when over-steamed and lose its vital nutrients. Serve it with one tablespoon of their favorite dipping sauce like ketchup, BBQ sauce, marinara sauce or Superfood Sauce.
- 4. Beans and legumes are a great source of protein. Protein requirements change based on how old your child is. Toddler’s requirements are anywhere from 13 to 16 grams, and 4 to 10 years range from 24 to 28 grams. The fact is that growing kids need protein to keep muscle mass growing. Black beans have always been a hit when I cook for kids. Try black bean tacos or black bean quesadillas. Chick peas may also hit the mark with your kids, try adding them to soups or enjoy them in the form of hummus.
- 5. Whole grains deliver vital nutrients like minerals and fiber. Try to go for actual whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, farro, oats — instead of packaged whole grain products that can contain a lot of sugar and preservatives like breads, cereals, crackers, and snack bars. If you are going to packaged whole grain items, choose grain products with the words “whole”, “unbleached” and “intact” or “ground” in the ingredient list. Learn more on how to get kids to love whole grains.
- 6. Nuts and nut butters contain good fats and plenty of protein, both important for growth. Peanut butter, almond butter, and other nut butters are great fast-and-easy foods for kids. Kids need fat for brain development and to cushion organs — just remember to give them the good kind of fat (poly and monounsaturated like you find in nuts and nut butter). Try spreading almond or peanut butter on crackers, toast or celery sticks for a quick and nutritious snack. A handful of toasted almonds and raisins make a great travel snack or after practice snack.
- 7. Fresh fruit is a low-cal way to satisfy your child’s natural sugar-craving. Craving sugar is normal and natural, but using whole fruits instead of fruit juices, candy and sodas is a lower-cal way for kids to have a sweet treat and get vitamins like C and A, minerals, and fiber (that will help with healthy digestion). My picks are fresh berries (high in fiber and anti-oxidants), papaya (very high in vitamin A), and kiwi (a vitamin C powerhouse).