8 Super Healthy Foods We Guarantee Your Kid will Eat
Not only are these 8 foods nutritious for kids, we've also paired them with tasty recipes the whole family will love. By Carolyn Land Williams, M.Ed., R.D.
October 13, 2010
1 of 9Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
Nutritious Foods for Kids
For many parents, buying and preparing healthy foods is pretty easy. It’s getting your child to actually eat those nutritious foods that’s the hard part! This makes mealtimes frustrating and leaves parents often wondering if their child is getting enough nutrients. If this is the case in your home, then read on because we’ve got eight super healthy foods that we guarantee even your pickiest child will eat.
2 of 9Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
This nutty plant food is packed full of Omega-3 fatty acids which are needed for optimal brain development. Flaxseed is sold whole and ground, but research suggests that ground is absorbed by the body better. Try sprinkling ground flaxseed onto cereal or into the batter of sweet treats like Apple Upside-Down Cake or Banana-Cinnamon Waffles (pictured). Replace 1/4 cup of flour with ground flaxseed in your child’s favorite muffin, bread, or pancake recipe to add a healthy boost to baked goods.
3 of 9Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
We know. You’re probably thinking there’s no way your child will ever touch tofu, right? Well, think again. Though not always a favorite when served whole in dishes, tofu is a kid-pleaser when used to provide a creamy base in smoothies and desserts like our Blueberry Power Smoothie and Cookies-and-Cream Ice Cream. Tofu is a great source of protein, B vitamins, calcium, and iron – all nutrients that kids often need more of for proper growth and bone health. Try one of our tofu recipes on your child, and we promise that he’ll be asking for more.
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This spud is one of the most nutritious (and inexpensive) vegetables around. The Vitamin A in sweet potatoes keeps eyes healthy, and acts like an antioxidant in the body. Sweet potatoes are a favorite among babies because of their natural sweetness and bright color, but they are often forgotten once kids get older. Try a baked sweet potato the next time you need a side dish. Simply wash, pierce with a fork, and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender. Then, serve like a baked potato topped with cinnamon-sugar and vanilla yogurt. Apple sauce or a drizzle of maple syrup also make good toppings. If you’ve got a mashed potato lover, then try Two-Potato Mash (pictured).
5 of 9Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
Getting plenty of good bacteria, also known as probiotics, is key to keeping little stomachs happy and healthy, and yogurt is a great source of this bacteria. Limit sugary versions aimed at kids because these are often lower in protein and good bacteria. Instead, choose plain nonfat or low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt and dress them up with a spoonful of honey and sprinkling of fresh fruit. Look for the words “live and active cultures” on the carton to ensure that the yogurt has plenty of beneficial bacteria. Don’t forget too that a cup of yogurt counts towards your child’s daily dairy servings. Most yogurts actually have more calcium than a cup of milk.
This heart-healthy dip and spread is one food that most kids will eat – as long as you don’t tell them it’s made from beans! But it’s the fiber, complex carbs, and protein in those garbanzo bean—combined with heart-healthy olive oil—that make hummus such a perfect food. The complex carbs fuel your busy little one, while the protein and fiber help keep him content and meltdown-free until dinner. Serve hummus as a dip with baked pita chips or baby carrots or use it in place of mayonnaise on sandwiches and wraps. Try store-bought or whip up a quick homemade version (Traditional Hummus).
7 of 9Photo: Charles Masters
If salmon isn’t a food you would think to serve to your child, then you might want to reconsider this pink fish. Wild salmon is an excellent source of high-quality protein which children need for proper growth as well as those Omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for brain development and heart health. Another plus for busy parents, salmon requires little seasoning due to natural flavor and can be baked or grilled in just a few minutes. If mercury levels have you worried, then take note of the fact that salmon is consistently rated by the FDA as one of the five fish lowest in mercury. Try one of these kid-friendly salmon recipes tonight: Salmon Burgers or Roasted Salmon with Citrus and Herbs.
8 of 9Photo: John Autry
Avocado is full of monounsaturated fats, the “good” fats that kids actually need in their diet every day. In fact, it’s recommended that 25 to 35% of kid’s calories come from fats, primarily the unsaturated ones. So how do you get your child to eat this creamy green fruit? We’ve found avocado goes over well with kids when served as a spread on wraps in place of mayonnaise or cream cheese. Ripe avocado should mash easily with a fork. Mix in a dash of lemon juice and salt, and you’ve got a tasty spread or dip. Start kids on avocado early since fat intake is particularly important in the early years. In fact, ripe avocado is a perfect baby food spooned straight out of its peel.
9 of 9Photo: William Dickey
One cup of this sweet tropical fruit provides almost a whole day’s supply of Vitamin C which helps keep kids’ immune systems running strong and keeps teeth and gums healthy. It also provides 3 grams of fiber for just around 100 calories. Buy fresh or jarred in juice to serve cut up or in a smoothie or dessert like Banana-Mango Smoothie(pictured) or Double Mango Pudding. Want a fun way to cool your kids off and provide a nutritious snack? Puree peeled cubes of mango in a food processor or blender; pour into popsicle molds or ice cube trays and freeze. In a few hours, you’ve got frozen mango pops!