The word “superfood” is frequently tossed around in food- and health-related conversations. Although there’s no standardized, scientifically-backed criteria for what makes a food a superfood, the term generally refers to foods that contain high levels of at least one important vitamin or mineral. Without knowing it, your family is probably already incorporating some of these foods into your meals. Many common superfoods can be added into your child’s diet so they can reap the health benefits. Here are our 7 favorite superfoods for kids and suggestions for making them kid-friendly.
Salmon is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fats that your little one needs for their development. Omega-3s are most easily absorbed into the body when derived from fish and seafood sources. Salmon is also lower in saturated fat than other omega-3 sources, like red meat.
Fish can be fairly daunting for kids, especially picky eaters. Baking a salmon filet in familiar spices and herbs tames the fishy taste of an already mild salmon. For those who are already fish-eating pros, try substituting salmon in a tuna fish sandwich. Using grilled salmon as a substitute for chicken in tacos or burrito bowls is also a great way to incorporate fish into meals for your kids to try.
Blueberries, along with many other berries including strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, are packed full of nutrients such as vitamin C and manganese. Vitamin C is vital to tissue growth and development as well as wound healing. Manganese helps with connective tissue, bone structure and clotting factors.
Fresh blueberries are a great snack for kids and toddlers since they’re small, sweet and ready-to-eat (after a quick rinsing)! In the summer, all-natural berry popsicles are a tasty way to beat the heat. During the off-season, buy frozen blueberries—your kid can still enjoy the fresh flavor while reaping the nutritional benefits. Toss some in your kid’s oatmeal or smoothies for a tasty pop of purple!
Chia seeds are a great plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, and they also contain substantial amounts of iron and calcium. Iron contributes to oxygen transport while calcium is vital to building strong bones.
Chia seeds can be used as an egg substitute in baking, such as in chia seed cookies or homemade pasta making for little ones with egg allergies. You can make your own healthy chia pudding for your kid to enjoy. Chia seeds can also be added as a topping to oatmeal, smoothies or Greek yogurt for an added crunch to your little one’s breakfast or snack!
Pulses are part of the legume family that contains dried legumes, like dried beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils. Pulses are a super source of protein and fiber. They serve as an excellent meat alternative since they contain essential amino acids (which are usually found in meat). As an added bonus, they are easy to prepare and can commonly be found canned. Pair them with ancient grains or rice for an easy, kid-friendly meal!
The Nurture Life spring menu is loaded with legumes. From our Indian Lentil Stew to our veggie version of Shepherd’s Pie, we don’t skip a beat when it comes to creatively incorporating pulses in a flavorful, kid-friendly fashion.
Among the dark green vegetables, kale is the powerhouse. It contains about 15 percent of the suggested daily calcium, almost 6 times the daily requirement for vitamin A and 6 times the daily requirement for vitamin K.
While many enjoy kale raw, it can taste bitter, especially to kids with sensitive taste buds. Lightly sauteeing kale will reduce the bitterness. You can creatively incorporate sauteed kale into pasta sauce, lasagna or a winter stew to add a serving of vegetables to your kid’s meal.
A smoothie is always a great option for incorporating dark, leafy greens. Pairing kale with sweet fruits like berries or bananas helps to mask the bitterness of the kale, resulting in a treat your kids will love. Or, for a healthy alternative to potato chips, try baking kale at a high temperature for a crispy nutritious snack!
Nurture Life’s pediatric registered dietitian, Lara Field, is a huge proponent of eggs for a protein-packed breakfast. Eggs are rich in B vitamins and contain some vitamin D, which is not commonly found in food sources.
Eggs are super versatile, so try out different preparations to serve them to your child: scrambled, pan-fried, in a veggie-loaded omelette or in little egg bites. You can send hard boiled eggs in a Tupperware container (with an ice pack!) for an addition to school lunches.
Nuts are a popular superfood for their punch of protein! Peanuts and tree nuts can be added to kid-friendly trail mix or enjoyed in a classic PB&J or ants on a log.
For kids with food allergies, peanuts can often be a concern. Almonds or cashews are an excellent peanut alternative for a peanut-free snack. If your child must avoid nuts altogether, sunflower seed butter achieves a similar flavor profile and texture.
When choosing the right peanut butter or nut butter for your child to enjoy, look for products without added sugar or salt. If you’re up for some added creativity, consider making your own nut butter out of roasted peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds or a combination of nuts.
From growth and bone development to vision and heart health, your little one is growing and evolving daily. Superfoods are full of vitamins and minerals necessary for your child’s proper development. Try incorporating some of these foods into your child’s meals and snacks to ensure a balanced, nutritious diet and healthy development.