Trying to get kids to eat a nutritiously balanced diet can seem like an overwhelming task at times, especially if you are trying to jump from a diet consisting mostly of boxed macaroni and cheese with hot dogs all the way over to a diet of steamed broccoli and grilled chicken, all at once. Instead, try bringing in a few kid friendly options, a little bit at a time. We have taken the liberty of compiling a list of some foods that are most often enjoyed by kids that you can easily incorporate into your kids daily diet to better balance their nutritional intake without rebellion or pushback from them.
1. Apples & Applesauce
Apples are rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants that may help to reduce the risk of cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. They are also one of the most common snacks you might find in a kids lunch box. Although applesauce does not provide quite the same nutritional profile that fresh apples do, it is important to buy your kids unsweetened organic applesauce to snack on. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), children should eat one to two servings of fruit per day, and since one cut and cored medium apple is considered two to three servings, adding an apple a day to their diet will ensure that you have happy and healthy kids.
The banana is nutritiously rich in potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamin C, and many other vitamins and minerals. The possible health benefits of bananas include: lowered blood pressure, reduced risk of asthma, cancer, and diabetes, and they could even help to preserve your memory and enhance your mood. Bananas are also one of the most popular fruits in the entire world, and scientists believe that they may have actually been one of the first fruits. Since bananas are available year round, there really is no reason not to incorporate this deliciously healthy fruit into your kids daily diet. As if you needed another reason, they may also be one of the cheapest snack options around. Most bananas range from about ½ cup to a full cup when chopped which means that one banana may equal one or two servings of fruit for the day.
Blueberries have high fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and phytonutrient levels, which provide many health benefits to those who regularly chow down on this sweet and nutritious snack. When incorporated into a regular diet, blueberries have been shown to lower blood pressure warding off heart disease, improve mental health, and help to make managing diabetes easier. One to two servings of fruit are recommended for daily consumption, and since a serving of blueberries is ½ cup that can easily be thrown onto a summer salad, into a smoothie, or simply eaten raw these berries will create throngs of healthy kids begging for this sweet treat.
4. Breakfast Casserole
Making a breakfast casserole can be a quick and easy way to feed a large family for a single breakfast, or an easy way to feed a small family breakfast for a few days. After you add the eggs, the rest of the ingredients are completely up to you, so that you can tailor your own family’s breakfast casserole to match your tastes and nutritional needs. If you have a picky eater who does not necessarily get enough vegetables in their diet, or a healthy array of them, try mixing them into their breakfast casserole. You might be surprised what your kids are willing to eat when they do not know it is mixed in with other ingredients that they love. Do not forget to add a little salt and pepper for a nice flavor composition that will pull everything together nicely and create a breakfast that is easy to make, and everyone will love.
5. Carrot Sticks
Carrot sticks pack a nutritional punch that include impressive beta carotene and fiber levels, as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B8, folate, potassium, and iron. Thanks to all of these vitamins and nutrients these crunchy little sticks of health, are a natural immune booster, aid in digestion, improve eyesight and oral health, and they even help maintain blood sugar regulation which is vital for diabetes patients. It gets better though! As it turns out, most kids love munching on raw carrots, which is great news for parents who are in constant search for healthy foods that their kids will actually eat. The USDA recommends that kids eat anywhere from one to three cups of vegetables per day, depending on their age and gender, and since they can get a single serving of vegetables from only twelve carrot sticks, it should be no problem to make sure their daily vegetable intake is adequate.
6. Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken noodle soup is one of those go to meals when your kids are sick, that often get forgotten about when you have healthy kids who are doing well. But there is a reason that so many people turn to chicken noodle soup when they are not feeling well, and it is because of all of the nutritional benefits that it provides. Just remember that homemade is always better than the canned variety, not only will your sodium intake plummet dramatically when you choose homemade (which is always a good thing) but you will be able to pick and choose which cuts of chicken to include, what vegetables they will enjoy most, and best of all, you can kick up the protein content by using ISOPasta.
7. Corn On The Cob
Corn on the cob is often seen as a fun summer treat by kids, but thanks to the ability to flash freeze this delicious vegetable option, it can now be enjoyed year round. Whether you boil, grill, or bake your corn on the cob you can be sure that you are getting the most nutrition possible out of it, because unlike other vegetables, corn’s natural antioxidant activity actually increases as it is cooked. And since corn has the phytochemicals: lutein and zeaxanthin in it, you will be promoting healthy vision for your kids, while they think they are getting a treat. A single ear of corn contains just about a half of a serving of vegetables, so you may still want to save the corn on the cob for special occasions, and fill them up on leafy greens most days instead.
8. Cottage Cheese
Unless you have made the mistake of telling your kids how cottage cheese is made, they probably love the stuff, which is good news for you because this healthy snack pulls double duty to help out with your kids nutritional intake. Healthy kids consume two to three servings of dairy daily, and a single cup of cottage cheese equates to one full serving. Many parents find that one of the hardest nutrients to get their children to eat enough of is protein, but if your kid loves cottage cheese then you are in luck, because a single serving contains 11 grams of protein, alongside a healthy helping of vitamin A, vitamin D, and calcium. 11 grams of protein equates to just under an ounce, and since the USDA recommends that children eat two to six and a half ounces of protein per day depending on their age and gender, it is not a bad idea to incorporate cottage cheese into snack time.
Grapes are a great source of powerful antioxidants that fight against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and even constipation. Since the water content in grapes is fairly high, they are a good snack option to keep kids well hydrated, without having to force them to drink more water. They also contain a decent dose of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, iron, and folate. According to the USDA, to be healthy, kids need about one to two servings of fruit per day, depending on their age and gender. Since a single serving of grapes can be measured out by either a half of a cup or by counting out approximately fifteen grapes, depending on their size it should be rather easy to attain this goal.
10. Mandarin Oranges
Kids love mandarin oranges, because they are small, sweet, and easy to peel. Parents love them because they are packed with important nutrients like: vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, that healthy kids need. They are beneficial for a healthy immune system, weight loss, keeping blood pressure low, and reducing the risk of developing cancer. Two medium sized mandarin oranges are equal to a single fruit serving, and since kids only need one to two servings of fruit in their daily diet, reaching this number should be fairly easy with the incorporation of these small and tasty snacks to your kids day.
Meatballs can be a simple way to get your kids to eat more protein. Since kids only need about two to six ounces (or equivalent) of protein per day, it should be easy for parents to make sure that their children get enough. But many kids are picky eaters and for whatever reason just do not touch the protein on their plate. Adding meatballs to dishes that they already love, like spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, pizza, and grilled cheese is a good way to disguise the fact that what they are eating is in fact good for them. Since many pre-made brands of meatballs contain far more sodium than is necessary, as usual homemade versions are best. And remember that the size of each meatball does not matter nearly as much as the overall weight of the protein that they are getting.
Peas are a nutritiously strong vegetable, that should be added to kids daily diets, and since most kids love them, it is not a hard task to accomplish. If your kids tend to shy away from greens, there is good news for you too since peas can easily be pureed and added to pasta dishes as a sauce or topping, or even added whole. These little green vegetables are a great source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate, and they even provide a bit of protein to your kids diets. A half of a cup of peas equates to a single vegetable serving, but healthy kids still eat between one and three full cups of vegetables per day, depending on their gender and age, to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
One of the biggest health benefits of strawberries is that they have an incredibly high concentration of vitamin C, which helps to strengthen immune systems, and anyone with kids knows that keeping their immune systems strong is of the utmost importance due to the amount of germs that they come into contact with on any given day. Remember that the goal of nutrition is to create healthy kids on every level. Four large strawberries equate to about a half of a cup, which is a single serving of fruits. Remember though that kids need one to two full cups of fruits per day to account for a well balanced diet. Adding strawberries to salads or oatmeal is a great way to encourage picky eaters to enjoy these healthy meals.
Plain yogurt may not be your kids favorite, and they may ask for more sugary artificially flavored varieties, but instead of caving to this request, simply add a few fruits, or nuts the plain yogurt yourself. This will save your kids from a ton of additional calories and sugar that they just do not need. Plain yogurt has plenty of calcium, potassium, zinc, vitamin B12, and even a good amount of protein (14 grams) in a single one cup serving size. Children need between two and three cups of dairy every day to achieve a balanced diet, and since you can add fruits and nuts to plain yogurt to enhance not only its flavor but also its nutritional value, this is a great option to help balance the diets of all of your kids.
Did we miss any nutritiously rich foods that your kids love? Let us know in the comment section below!
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