By Avance Care Registered Dietitian Doris Nicolas-Mir, MPH, RDN, LDN, CDCES
How can I get my kids to eat healthy? That’s one of the most common questions I get as a dietitian. And a justifiable one since we all want the best for our children. Much of the angst and concern usually comes from kids not wanting to eat vegetables during family meals. But there are many ways for them to get the nutrients that they need while avoiding mealtime battles. You may have to get creative but to help get you started, here are 10 healthy foods that most kids will eat:
1. Nuts and Nut Butters
All nuts provide a great source of healthy fat, protein and fiber. Have them put together their own trail mix combinations with 2 or 3 different types of nuts, dried fruit and some chocolate chips.
There are many different types of nut butters in the store such as almond, cashew, and sunflower. These can be used on toast for breakfast, on a sandwich for lunch, or with celery and apples for a fun snack.
Most kids love cheese and not just on pizza. Cheese is quick way to add protein to a meal or snack. Add it to eggs, sandwiches, tacos or pair it with fruit or whole grain crackers.
There are lots of easy ways to get kids to eat berries which are packed with fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. Berries can be added to smoothies, waffles, cereal, salads, and muffins or even served as a sweet side dish.
We all want our kids to eat more vegetables; why not try spinach? It is packed with vitamins and iron. If your child is open to salads try mixing in raw spinach with lettuce for the base. Add spinach to a sandwich or quesadilla. It also works well mixed into a pasta dish or soup. Even more adventurous? Try blending it up with your next smoothie (for a Green Hulk Smoothie).
Most people may not think of popcorn as healthy but it’s a great high fiber whole grain snack. And guess what? Most people, adults included, are not getting enough fiber in their diet. Whether you pop your own or buy it already made, there are a ton of healthy options and flavors in the store.
Although this fruit has become very popular in the last couple of years, we don’t always think of it as being kid friendly. Avocados are a great source of healthy fat and once you get the hang of peeling one, they can be very versatile. Most kids would enjoy avocados as a dip or spread on whole grain toast or an English muffin. You can also add it to a sandwich or burger.
Yogurt is a great way to get in calcium, protein and vitamin D. However, be careful with the ones marketed to kids. Make sure to read the label and choose one with 15 grams or less of sugar per serving. Instead of an ice cream bar try a yogurt parfait bar. Toppings can include berries, granola, dried fruit, chocolate chips, or nuts.
Apples, banana, and oranges are usually our go-to fruits for kids. Try incorporating fruits that are in season to add some more variety. Watermelon is a summer favorite that is a good source of fiber and beta carotene which the body turns into vitamin A.
Curious about what’s in season? Take a look at North Carolina’s Depart of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s seasonal growth chart: http://www.ncagr.gov/markets/availabilitychart.pdf
9. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes, often considered a super food, are another great source of beta carotene. Most kids will enjoy baked sweet potato fries or try them mashed for a family favorite side dish.
A great source of fiber, oatmeal can be eaten as a cereal option or added to muffins and smoothies. Try cooking oatmeal overnight in the crockpot with a recipe that includes fruit and nuts.
Here are some websites with kid friendly recipes for your family to try.
For more tips and ideas on health eating make a telehealth appointment with an Avance Care dietitian at (919) 237-1337 option 4.
Doris is a registered dietitian at the Clayton and Knightdale Avance Care locations. She loves helping others meet their nutrition and wellness goals. In her free time, she enjoys exploring North Carolina with her family. Their last adventure was hiking at Raven Rock State Park in Lillington, NC.