20 Simple Super Foods

What good is a Super Food that is hard to find, hard to prepare and that kid’s won’t eat!

Let’s face it – in today’s world, getting your child to eat healthy foods can often be a very challenging venture. Unfortunately, due to life’s many stresses, the quality and quantity of nutrients we are feeding our children often falls very low on the priority list. This is why supplementing your child’s diet with “super foods” is one of the best methods of providing them with the essential nutrients necessary for healthy growth and development.

What are “super foods,” you ask? They are whole foods that have not been refined, processed or preserved and are very close to their original source. These foods are nutrient dense, providing a child’s body with essential fats, vitamins, minerals, lean proteins and iron. The foods outlined below will contribute to the development of proper brain function and a strong immune system, as well as the maintenance of a healthy body weight, and will assist in the prevention of illness or disease at any age.

1. Whole grain bread

Whole grain breads break down into glucose – the main source of fuel your child needs to maintain energy. Unfortunately, eating white, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth bread has become the norm. If children eat white bread or whole wheat refined bread on a continual basis, their blood sugar (glucose levels) will bounce around, leading to symptoms such as moodiness, energy fluctuations and weight gain. Look for breads made with 100% whole wheat or whole grain in order to keep your child’s energy level up and his/her glucose level regulated. How do you know if the bread you are eating is whole grain? Check the ingredient label. Avoid food items that list made with “white,” “refined whole wheat,” “enriched wheat” or “wheat” flour. Instead, look for breads made with “100% whole wheat” or “whole grain” flour.

2. Apples

Every colorful apple provides five grams of fiber and lots of antioxidants, including flavonoids and other polyphenols.  Apples, however, are one of the most pesticide-sprayed crops, and most non-organic apples are waxed to make sure they are not damaged in shipping ( and who wants to eat that?), so be sure to choose organic. 

3. Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) looks and tastes like a grain, but it’s a seed that contains copious amounts of iron, potassium, vitamin B, fiber and protein.  A ½ cup actually provides all the protein your child needs in a day—that’s some seed. You can prepare it as a rice-type dish or like porridge. It’s good any time of the day. My son and I like it with a little balsamic vinegar as a side dish, or with some pure maple syrup for breakfast.

4. Berries

Blueberries are a wonderful way for children to get a sweet fix without the addition of refined sugars. In fact, researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) have found that blueberries rank first in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful byproducts called “free radicals” that can lead to cancer and other age-related diseases. As an addition to a morning shake, on top of cereal or mixed into yogurt, berries such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries should be a part of every child’s diet. Over all you can’t beat the berry, low in sugar, high in phytochemicals, antioxidants, fiber,  calcium, magnesium and zinc, these sweet treats are easy to eat and easy to carry.  Pick one or try them all: blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries and more.

5. Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the best sources of protein and calcium for your child. In fact, one cup of yogurt (254 grams) offers 13 grams of protein and 447 mg of calcium, making it one of the best sources of protein and calcium for your child. Yogurt is also now available with “good bacteria” called acidophilus, which helps to promote immune system function and healthy digestion. Yogurt also contains probiotics which help promote immune system functioning and healthy digestion. Throw in some berries for a taste treat. Make sure to choose varieties with no added sugars or artificial sweeteners.

6.  Sweet potatoes

As a general rule, the more colourful the fruit or vegetable, the healthier it is. It is the chemicals (called phytochemicals) that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant hues of green, orange, red and purple that are responsible for disease-fighting elements. Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta carotene, vitamin E, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. Mash’em up and serve’em hot. They make great food fight material as well, and spice up the color of any wall—so beware.

7. Nuts

Essential fats are the key here. Be sure to choose peanut butter and other nut butters that are natural to avoid high fructose corn syrup and other yucky ingredients. Most processed peanut butters on the grocery shelves today are loaded with sugar and partially hydrogenated fat (trans fatty acids). In order to reap the essential fats that nuts offer without the addition of fake fats and sugars, turn to your health food store for a natural nut butter such as peanut, cashew or almond butter. Look for a variety with only one or two ingredients – the nut and, if desired, salt. And make sure you give only chopped nuts to kids under five to avoid choking. 

8. Beans  

Filled with fiber and protein, beans are a nutritious addition to a child’s diet. Beans also offer an excellent source of iron, which is the most common mineral deficiency in children. Try adding beans such as chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans or lentils to a wrap, soup, nachos, pasta sauce or chili. In addition, bean dips such as hummus (chickpea dip) are great with mixed veggies for a snack.

9. Broccoli

OK, you’re probably thinking, what child will eat broccoli? In fact, if broccoli is introduced at an early stage of feeding, some children will eat steamed broccoli on its own. However, if your child is like most, broccoli will need a little disguising or dressing up in order for you child to accept it. A few tempting options are to melt grated low-fat cheese over top or to puree broccoli into a tomato sauce for pasta. Chop it up and serve it incognito in a main dish—your child will never know it’s there.Broccoli is loaded with disease fighting chemicals and vitamin C.  Loaded with disease-fighting chemicals and vitamin C, broccoli’s nutritional bang can’t be beat.

10.Cage Free, Organic Eggs Omega-3 eggs

Eggs are a complete protein, and contain lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that support eye health. They are low in sodium, and great for your little one’s growing body. You can also buy omega-3 eggs, which offer your child essential fatty acids for brain development support. Omega-3 eggs offer a wonderful source of protein and essential fats. In fact, an omega-3 egg contains approximately 350 mg of omega-3s while a regular egg contains a mere 63 mg. Omega-3 fats have been shown to improve skin, allergies, brain function and mood in children. Children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder often show signs of omega-3 deficiency, such as dry skin patches/eczema, brittle nails, poor digestion, allergies and asthma. 

11.Avocados

Avocados are a creamy “vegetable/fruit” that provide a terrific source of the “good fat” called monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats and essential fats found in oily fish and nuts are an essential part of proper growth and development. In fact, over 60 per cent of a child’s brain is comprised of fat. Unsure how to use an avocado? In fact, over 60 per cent of a child’s brain is comprised of fat. Good fat should make up a third of your toddler’s daily calories to support proper brain functioning. Try serving it to your children as a yummy spread instead of mayonnaise or cream cheese. 

10.Fish and Fish Oil 

Salmon contains heart-healthy omega-3 polyunsaturated fat, tastes good, and is easy to prepare. Choose wild Alaskan salmon to decrease risk of mercury contamination.

11. Carrots

Carrots are fun to eat and easy to eat on the go that they should be a natural part of your daily routine, but do not mistake this every day vegetable for nothing less then a Super Food.  Carrots contain high levels of beta carotene, a pigment that helps improve vision, the  beta carotene also works as an antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of certain cancers.  Carrots are also a good source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium making  this little gem a super food. 

12.Green leafy vegetables 

Greens, such as spinach, kale, bok choy, Swiss chard and romaine lettuce, contain beta-carotene, vitamin B, calcium, lutein and zeaxanthin that work together to support overall health. Getting your child to eat them might be a challenge if you toddler is like mine and avoids anything green. However, a variety of quality green drinks and powders have sprouted up in the last five years, and my little one loves them (as long as I call them juice). 

13.Grapes

Portable and powerful, these little balls of joy provide your child with polyphenols (antioxidants), vitamin C, and natural sugars. They give an instant energy boost.

14.Oranges

Rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamins B1 and 6, potassium, folic acid, calcium, and iron, oranges are colorful, sweet smelling and a real treat for our little ones—and don’t forget, very accessible and portable.

15.Bananas

A rich source of Vitamins B and C, potassium, magnesium and iodine.  They are easily digested and a high energy source—and again, very portable.

16.Mushrooms 

A great source of phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and selenium, mushrooms are also easy to put into varied dishes without the risk of discovery.

17.Tomatoes

Tomatoes are high in lycopene, a potent carotenoid antioxidant. Cherry or grape tomatoes are easy for an on-the-go snack. The bigger tomatoes can be chopped into salads, wraps, salsa, and more for lots of tasty options.

18.Mangos

This tropical fruit provides more than a full day’s serving of beta-carotene, as well as fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. They are so good and juicy—and portable, but be sure to bring a napkin or wipe.

19. Dark Chocolate

After you fill up your child with all the great foods listed above, its time for you to indulge in my number one super food: pure, dark organic chocolate. Loaded with magnesium, antioxidants and chemicals that mimic the love response in our bodies, a little piece of dark chocolate is a little piece of heaven. When it’s really dark, you only need a little to fill up that sweet spot. 

Super Foods for the Super Family is a collection of recipes based around these 20 Super Foods that the whole family can enjoy. The recipes are not only quick and classic but are fun and colorful, making them eatable for all ages!

At the end of the day, just know that the more good foods you can add into your child’s diet, the more likely he or she will make good food choices in the future. Avoid those sugary, processed, junk food traps. For now, load them up on the goodies above, as part of a varied, colorful, diet and watch them thrive. Good nutrition is the bedrock of lifelong health, and it begins in infancy. Healthy eating can stabilize children’s energy, sharpen their minds, and even out their moods. 

However, there are simple steps that parents can take to instill healthy eating habits in their kids, without turning mealtimes into a battle zone. By encouraging healthy eating habits now, you can make a huge impact on your children’s lifelong relationship with food and give them the best opportunity to grow into healthy, confident adults. Do yourself and your family a favor that will last a lifetime. Start here and make the switch to easier, healthier eating for yourself and your family. 

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