Healthy eating isn’t just for grown ups anymore. Food trends have hit the playground and kids are more excited than ever to try the latest super snack.
Registered holistic nutritionist Caterina Marchese gives us the skinny on why you should love feeding these to your kids just as much as they love eating them. But Marchese likes to remind parents of the 80/20 rule: “If you’re feeding them healthy things 80 percent of the time, don’t worry about the other 20 percent because it will take care of itself.” So that slice of birthday cake and handful of jelly beans is OK, too, some of the time.
Packets of these lightly salted seaweed snacks are popping up in lunch bags across the country. Avoid the ones with additives like canola oil, but don’t worry about a little bit of added salt.
“Containing protein, high levels of calcium, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and a wide spectrum of minerals (including iodine, which is hard to get from food sources), they’re pretty much as nutrient dense as it gets,” says Marchese.
Not just for Chia Pets anymore, these seeds are a superfood that plump up and become jelly-like when soaked in liquid. Kids love how they turn milk, juice, yogurt or even herbal tea into a fun pudding treat.
“They contain fibre, protein, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and omega-3s,” says Marchese, giving these the nutritional thumbs up.
Read more: 11 easy peasy smoothie recipes>
Protein-dense Greek yogurt is all the rage from tzatziki to baby food and has definite kid appeal.
“Kefir is another fermented dairy product which is way higher in probiotic content than Greek yogurt,” says Marchese. “But it is also more tangy and liquidy.” She recommends cutting the creamy, kid-friendly Greek yogurt with a couple tablespoons of kefir for added nutritional kick.
Dessert never felt so good. Avocados are loaded with good fats that are great for brain function in kids. Plus raw cocoa is chalk full of antioxidants and minerals. Marchese loves that this is a raw treat, too. “I’m not a raw foodist,” she says, “but having a certain percentage of raw food that is high in enzymes and some phytonutrients is certainly important.”
Throw in a teaspoon of pomegranate powder to boost the super food factor even more.
Get the recipe here: My Food Challenge
What kid doesn’t like a smoothie? Play up the idea of a “green monster” to boost the kiddie appeal, and make sure to start with mild-flavoured greens like spinach or nutrient-dense microgreens.
“These are hands down the best way of getting this one amazing, nutrient-dense thing into your kids every day,” says Marchese. “It’s raw but it’s easier to digest because the cell wall is broken down when it’s blended.”
Make sure to add banana for sweetness. Berries are always a good call, too.
Don’t be fooled by your kid’s obvious abhorrence of anything green on her dinner plate. These salty, crispy snacks are universally adored by kids and adults alike.
“Kale is high in fibre and iron,” says Marchese, “And the chips are typically dehydrated, so once again you’re giving them something raw.” Just make sure you don’t eat them all yourself!
Get the recipe here: Sweet Potato Chronicles
Healthy eating doesn’t get much easier than tossing some spelt, kamut, oats or buckwheat into pancakes. “One of the rules of nutrition is variety, because what one thing lacks the other one will have,” says Marchese.
So mix up your weekend breakfast tradition to ensure you’re you’re covering a broad spectrum of nutrients. And, yes, berries and real maple syrup count as variety, too.
Read more: 10 delicious pancake recipes>
They’re a no-no at schools, but all-natural nut butters are full of fibre, protein and the good fats that fuel growing brains. Double check labels to avoid added sugar and don’t forget to give them a stir because the oil floats to the top.
“They taste amazing even with no sugar in them,” says Marchese. “But If you do want to sweeten them, you can use a natural, unsweetened jam or a bit of maple syrup or raw honey.”
Think beyond the raisin, and offer your kids a variety of tasty dried fruit: blueberries, cherries, mangoes and whatever else you can find. They are great for mixing into things like trail mix and storing in your pantry year round.
“Make sure the fruit isn’t sulphured,” says Marchese. Double check labels on bulk bins and packaging to make sure the fruit is free from icky preservatives.
Read more: 10 healthy store-bought snacks>
Is it breakfast or is it dessert? Your kids will love these sweet and healthy additions to their porridge.
Start with quick oats, which have good fibre and protein. Then add in fresh coconut butter (good fat), raw honey (enzymes, minerals, vitamins), cinnamon (great for bringing down the glycemic index of the honey), vanilla and raw cocoa (which is a super food kids love).
Roasted seaweed? Kale chips? You might be surprised by the exotic snacks kids can't get enough of!
Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners