Getting kids to eat healthy isn’t easy. I don’t know about your family, but most of the so called “Kid Friendly Recipes” out there are full of stuff my kids wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Never mind the fact that they consist of things mixed together. My kids freak out if their foods are just touching on their plates. If your kids are as picky as mine, rest assured, there are ways to make sure your kids are getting the necessary vitamins and minerals they need to grow up healthy. Here’s a list of healthy foods that most kids will eat happily.
1. Apples- Cut them into slices, chips, or chunks. Dip them in peanut butter or caramel sauce. Eat them as apple sauce sprinkled with cinnamon. There are lots of ways to get your kids to eat apples. Apples contain antioxidants (disease-fighting compounds) and water-soluble fiber (pectin). Studies have shown that apples’ amazing combination of polyphenols (phytonutrients) and pectins are what make them so beneficial. Apples can help protect your kids from cardiovascular diseases as well as asthma and lung cancer. They also help regulate blood sugar and help prevent cancer (especially colon and breast cancer). Other benefits include the prevention of several age-related health problems, including macular degeneration of the eye and neurodegenerative problems, including Alzheimer’s disease. It’s clear we should all be eating more of this delicious fruit. The wise old phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” has some truth to it after all.
2. Sweet Potatoes- Try them roasted, baked, pureed, or mashed. Most kids like sweet potatoes ’cause they’re sweet, but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain. Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates and potassium which helps regulate heartbeat and nerve signals. They contain iron, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin B6, as well as carotenoids. These vitamins and minerals are known to prevent cancer, help build healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin, and teeth, and play an important role in our energy levels, and moods. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of magnesium necessary for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function, yet experts estimate that approximately 80 percent of the population in North America may be deficient in this important mineral.
3. Chicken- Chicken is delicious, nutritious, versatile, and inexpensive. Kids will love it roasted and sliced, as homemade nuggets, and made into soup. Chicken is a one of the best foods for growing children. Protein is key to the human diet, especially for kids, because the body uses it to create new cells and maintain or repair existing cells. It also contains amino acids that helps children to grow taller and stronger. Chicken is also a good source of niacin , which aids in metabolism; vitamin B6, important to immune system and blood sugar level maintenance; biotin , which helps cell growth; and vitamin B12, which is involved in nerve cell and red blood cell maintenance. Chicken also contains iron for oxygen transport and cell growth and zinc for immune system functioning and DNA synthesis.
4. Blueberries- My kids love blueberries. We eat them like candy all summer long, while they’re fresh and relatively inexpensive. During the off season, I sometimes buy frozen blueberries and make smoothies or just mix them into plain or vanilla yogurt. They’re also a great addition to pancakes and baked goods. With flavors that range from mildly sweet (cultivated) to tart and tangy (wild), blueberries are nutritional stars bursting with nutrition and flavor while being very low in calories. Blueberries are rich in fiber, and are ranked as one of the highest in antioxidants and phytonutrients. (Especially organic blueberries, if you can afford them.) Antioxidants combat free radicals and boost the immune system. Blueberries have been shown to improve nervous system and general brain health as well as improving memory. They’re also good for your eyes and actually help protect the human eye from damage by sunlight and oxidative stress.
5. Yogurt- Smooth, creamy, and delicious. Yogurt should be one of your child’s first foods. Most babies can start eating plain, unsweetened, pasteurized, whole-milk yogurt after they start eating solids – at around 6 months. Plain Greek yogurt is fine too (and the more live cultures, the better for your baby’s stomach). Your kids will love it blended in smoothies,or just mixed with some fruit and sweetened with a little honey, when they’re older, for some additional health benefits. You can also replace some if the oil with yogurt in your favorite muffin recipes. Your yogurt eaters will also get a dose of animal protein (about 9 grams per 6-ounce serving), plus several other nutrients found in dairy foods, like calcium, vitamin B-2, B-12, potassium, and magnesium. Besides being a great source of calcium and vitamin D, yogurt may help lower your risk of developing high blood pressure. Tummy troubles? The probiotics (beneficial bacteria) in some yogurts balance the microflora in their gut, which can aid with digestion as well as keeping them regular.
6. Eggs- Scrambled, over-easy, hard-boiled, poached or made into an omelet. Eggs are cheap, easy, versatile, and can be added to pretty much any combo of meat and veggies to make a complete meal. My kids love them just scrambled or fried. (Remember, they don’t like their foods mixed.) Eggs are a great source of nutrition for kids because of their high quality proteins and amino acids which are essential when kids are forming new muscle tissue as they grow. Whole eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet, containing a little bit of almost every nutrient we need like vitamin A, Folate, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B12, vitamin B2, phosphorus and Selenium. A single egg contains 100 mg of choline which is used to build cell membranes. Egg consumption consistently leads to elevated levels of HDL (the “good”) cholesterol, which is linked to a reduced risk of many diseases like heart disease and stroke. Omega-3 enriched and/or pastured eggs are even healthier, containing even more vitamin A and E and omega-3s which lower triglycerides.
7. Oats- A steaming bowl of oatmeal is so good on a chilly morning. Sprinkle it with some cinnamon to help regulate blood sugar, or cocoa powder for even more health benefits. Research shows that kids who eat oatmeal are better able to concentrate and pay attention in school. Kids love snacking on granola bars and oatmeal cookies. Make your own to control the amount of sugar consumption. Fiber-rich whole grains, like oats, digest slowly, providing kids with a steady stream of energy. Oats are not only good for your heart, and gluten free, but also reduce the risk of asthma in children. The beta glucans in oats boost defenses of the immune system against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Eating oats can also keep your kids feeling fuller, longer. so, you’ll hear less of that “Mommy, I’m hungry,” stuff.
8. Almonds- I know not every kid likes almonds and some might be allergic, but since they’re so nutritious, and my kids like them so much, I wanted to include them on this list. Nuts are full of healthy fats, which kids need for growth and development, as well as for heart health. Almonds are also rich in nutrients, including magnesium, vitamin E, iron, calcium, fiber, and riboflavin. Almonds have more fiber than any other tree nut. Almonds help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and could help you live longer and lower a your risk of death from heart disease and cancer, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
9. Spinach- My kids like to eat raw baby spinach leaves. Since they don’t like salad, that works for me. They will also eat it steamed with butter and a little salt. There are a million other ways to enjoy this super healthy vegetable, but these are the only ways my kids will eat it. Sometimes you have to pick your battles. Anyway, spinach is so good for them because it’s full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is a good source of vitamins A, B2, C and K, and also contains magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium and potassium. Spinach combats cancers like breast, prostate and skin. Spinach has been shown to also increase muscle efficiency. No wonder Popeye drank it from a can?
10. Tomatoes- The only way my kids will eat tomatoes, is in tomato sauce and ketchup. Even though we had a million tomatoes from our garden this year, my kids hate the taste of raw tomatoes. Whether they eat them raw or made into a sauce, they’re still healthy. Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid. Tomatoes contain a wide array of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene and lutein. They help reduce the risk of heart disease, support bone health, and have anti-cancer benefits. So rest assured, when your kids are eating a big plate of spaghetti, or even some pizza, they’re getting their vitamins. Just don’t skip the sauce!