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Recipes

Super food: 20 kid-friendly recipes

When it comes to nutrition, here are the leaders of the pack.

Photo: iStockphoto Photo: iStockphoto

Super foods are some of the healthiest options out there, but they sometimes don't appeal to picky eaters.

Here are the benefits to some of your favourite foods as well as some recipes to get your little ones to eat them... and like it!

Mangos

A fun alternative to oranges when you’re looking to make your vitamin C quota, mangoes also deliver a healthy dose of glutamine acid, which is known to boost memory. Try sliced over cereal or salads.

Applesauce

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Applesauce is the way to go if you want to add more fibre to your children’s diet, and it contains vitamins A and C. Just be sure to select a brand that doesn’t add any bells and whistles that increase sugar content.

Tip: Make your home baking a little healthier and sub applesauce for a portion of the butter.

Natural nut butters

When it comes to nut butters, reading labels pays off. You can buy versions with hydrogenated fats, salt and sugar (but why would you?), or you can get jars of just plain nuts.

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Tip: Add a spoonful to a morning smoothie for extra protein.

Whole grains

Photo: flickr Photo: flickr

Make the switch. Your kids already love bread, pasta and rice, right? So begin your pantry makeover right here where newcomers will likely receive a warm welcome.

They’ll be getting more fibre, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and we bet they won’t even notice, especially if you start slowly by mixing your old faves with healthier versions.

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Popcorn

It’s all about air-popped here, people. A great source of fibre, popcorn is an easy and fun sugarfree snack for kids.

Greek Yogurt

Because Greek yogurt is strained, it has less moisture (hello, creamy!), so it delivers nearly double the protein of regular yogurt.

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Use it instead of sour cream in a dip, or on a baked potato.

Goji berries

These tart berries may be tiny, but contain a major dose of vitamins C, A and E. Goji’s antioxidants help build strong immune systems and fight infection.

Use them in place of dried cranberries in a batch of granola bars. They are also great in a lot of salads.

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Try swapping out the strawberries in this recipe, or simply add them in for more flavour.

Salmon

Photo: Jodi Pudge Photo: Jodi Pudge

There’s a reason they call fish brain food: The high levels of omega-3s found in salmon make it an important brain builder (as well as a protector against cognitive decline, parents!).

Legumes

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Going meatless at least one day a week is one of the single best moves you can make for your family’s health, as eating less meat is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Chickpeas, black beans and lentils all make dinners filling without the fat.

Kale

Photo: Jodi Pudge Photo: Jodi Pudge

Frankly a bit of a showoff when it comes to nutrition, kale is loaded with vitamins A, C, K, B6 and folate, plus minerals like calcium and iron.

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Afraid your kids will revolt? Try swapping it for basil in a pesto and watch it disappear.

Sweet potato

Off the charts when it comes to immunity boosting vitamin A, sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, potassium and dietary fibre.

Avocado

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Ideal for babies just beginning solids, the healthy fat, vitamin C, potassium and folates in avocados are just as good for big kids and parents.

Try adding half an avocado to your next morning smoothie.

Blueberries

Packed with vitamins and antioxidants, blueberries also protect against cell damage and reduce the risk of heart disease.

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Getting the recommended 1/2 cup serving three to four times a week is a breeze if you toss them in smoothies, add them to muffins and sprinkle them on a bowl of cereal.

Flax

Ground flax can boast about its mineral and vitamin content but where it really shows off is in fibre and omega-3s (healthy fats), which promote heart health and brain function.

Sprinkle it over yogurt, or add it to muffin recipes.

Dark chocolate

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A balanced diet has to include some treats – families cannot live by kale alone!

When that treat is a couple of squares of dark chocolate made with at least 70 percent cocoa, you get the antioxidant power of flavonoids, plus essential minerals like manganese, copper, iron and magnesium.

Quinoa

Photo: Jodi Pudge Photo: Jodi Pudge

Typically considered a grain, quinoa is actually a seed that comes close to chicken in terms of protein. It also contains all the essential amino acids, which are vital for body function.

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Give hot quinoa cereal in the morning a shot in place of your usual cold cereal. Try substituting the couscous in this chickpea and vegetable dish for quinoa.

Oatmeal

The fibre in oatmeal has been shown to protect against heart disease, regulate blood sugar levels, and may even reduce the risk of asthma. All in a little bowl of porridge.

Serve it up for your family’s breakfast a couple of days a week.

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Eggs

There’s a reason a slogan like “the incredible edible egg” exists. This protein powerhouse has a nifty nutrient by the name of choline that helps boost brain development. Anyone for over easy?

Chia

If your reference point for these teeny seeds is the novelty animals, then meet your new superfood. Touted as a great source of protein and omega-3 and 6, these black or white seeds are like super-canteens, holding 10 times their weight in water, which helps you stay hydrated.

Try tossing two tablespoons into baking, or on your morning yogurt or oatmeal.

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Water

Almost every function of the body requires water to work effectively. Your family can get water from milk, vegetables and fruits, but take it easy on the juice and fizzy drinks. The sugar in even the purest fruit juice should make it a “sometimes,” not an “always,” drink. Save that title for water.

This article was originally published on Dec 16, 2013

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