How to Make Kids’ Favorite Foods More Nutritious

Want to make kid favorite foods nutritious? Find out how here! You’ll love these tricks and tips and so will your kid! Healthy eating for kids. #FeedingMyKid #kidshealth #nutrition #favoritefoods Have you heard of superfood Add-Ins? These add-ins are a great way to promote healthy eating for kids.

Superfood add-ins are foods you can easily add into the foods you are already making for a surge of added nutrition. These foods are high in healthy fats, calories, micronutrients, and minerals. These are the perfect foods to promote healthy eating for kids!
You can add these Superfood add-ins to smoothies, snacks, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts. Yes, you can add them to almost anything!
I add flaxseeds to virtually everything I make. I add it to yogurts, muffins, meatloaf, mac and cheese and pancakes. You name it, I added in. Check out all of the benefits of flaxseeds below.
I also add nutritional yeast to any type of food that has a cheesy flavor, like lasagna, pasta, casseroles, mac and cheese and popcorn.
I add brewer’s yeast to sweets and bread when I’m baking. It’s a strong flavor, so try not to use too much.

Check Out These Other Great Resources:

Healthy Eating For Kids: Use Snacks As An Opportunity to Serve Nutritionally Dense Foods

My twins munch on all kinds of nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, grains, micro-greens, veggies, and fruits. I am not telling you this to brag. There was a time my kids only ate bread, crackers, and sweets.
 Healthy-Snacks-for-Kids-and-Adults
Getting my kids to eat healthier was more about me changing my habits than it was about them changing their habits. Then I was able to promote healthy eating for kids once I changed my own habits. I needed to re-think what I was serving them. I needed to become more present to the types of foods I was buying and why I was buying them. Once I did that, I was able to drastically change what they were eating.
First, I tried not to think of snack time as a treat time, but more as another chance to get my children to eat something nutritious. If your child isn’t used to eating like this, then it will take some time to turn the ship, but it can be done!
Luckily, I figured this all out when my twins were about 18 months (very young) and I was able to get them used to this new way of eating. We have tons of articles and videos on how to get kids to be more open to eating more nutritiously, so be sure to check that out. All the advice on Feeding My Kid is evidence-based and I always try to cite the information below.

We Know Not All Calories Are the SameNot-all-Calories-Are-the-Same

If you’re worried your child is an under-eater or not eating enough nutritious foods, then it’s incredibly important to make sure the food choices are higher in nutrients. Then the volume of food your child is eating will not matter much.
Below you’ll find a number of healthy add-ins you can buy and start adding to your child’s food right away. This will help increase the amount of nutrition your child is eating on a weekly basis. Try not to worry too much about what your child eats on a daily basis. It can drive you batty. Instead, look at what your child is eating over the course of the week. This is a great way to get started on healthy eating for kids.

Some Kids Are Small

This is an important one. Some kids are small and are within a healthy weight; they are a healthy size for their body type. Some kids are naturally leaner and some kids just aren’t big eaters. If your child is not a big eater than try to help him eat as nutritiously as possible. You want to make sure every calorie counts.

Picky Eating Can Go Along With Under-Eating

Some kids are pickier than others and won’t allow you to add anything green to their food. “Oh, the horror! Green speckles are in my food!” I have toddlers too, so I get it! Most of these add-ins are almost undetectable to your child, so they should be able to pass the picky eating test. Check out our article series on how to help picky eaters become adventurous foodies.
Image Credit: LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com
Image Credit: LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com

Reduce Empty Calorie Foods

We have more control than we think when it comes to what our kids eat. We control what foods we buy and allow in our homes. Try to reduce or eliminate empty calories from your child’s diet. Don’t let your under-eater get filled up on foods like crackers, chips, cheese and ribs. Yes, cheese is an empty calorie! While it has calcium and protein, vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. If your child is drinking milk, then they are probably getting enough calcium from their milk servings. If your child boycotts milk, then giving cheese is a great way to make up for that deficit.
As far as empty calories go, a good rule of thumb is to avoid the center of the grocery store as it is mostly plagued with foods high in empty calories and low in nutrients. Empty-calorie foods are those foods or beverages that are a poor source of micronutrients in relation to its energy value. Many obese people in the US can suffer from malnutrition.

Moderation Is Key

And, remember as with anything else in life, moderation is key. If your kids eat some empty calories at a party, don’t worry about it! You don’t want to be the food police. Being overprotective of the food your kids eat can actually backfire and cause a child to have food issues later in life. If my twins see these foods at a party then they can have at it. I just don’t bring them into our home. Healthy eating for kids is completely within your reach by just following simple steps.
Goldfish Crackers, Veggie Sticks, fruit snacks from a package, most children’s cereals; these are filled with empty calories and they’re nutritionally devoid. It’s ok if kids munch on these once in awhile, but not often. I said this one is a tough one to follow, but so important.

Eat More Fruits, Vegetables, Fish and Whole Grains

This isn’t an easy task! Check out the article on how to get kids to eat more vegetables for a full list of tips. The tips mentioned in the article can be applied to getting your kids to eat whole grains, fruit, and fish.
These types of foods are filled with micronutrients, minerals, healthy fats and healthy calories. These should be the majority of the foods your child eats.

Offer Lots of Nuts and Seeds 

If you think about it, just one tiny nut or seed has the potential to flourish into a beautiful tree. Now think about what that same nut or seed can do for your child’s body!
Apple-and-Nut-Butter-with-Almonds. Healthy eating for kids.
Nuts are filled with healthy nutrients and are high in calories, which can improve the growth and development of your little one. Even the National Institute of Health has conveyed the importance of nut consumption and its effects on maintaining a healthy weight (1).
Nuts and seeds make great afternoon snacks. If your child isn’t quite ready for eating a whole nut, try grinding nuts up into smaller pieces; or try offering a nut or seed butter spread. My twins are young so I grind up almonds and other hard nuts for a few seconds and then sprinkle the nuts on a food they are already eating. Use caution when giving your kids nuts as they can be a choking hazard. Just make sure you cut the nuts up into small enough pieces.
For added nutrients try to find sprouted seeds and nuts. Check out our article on High Fiber Snacks on the Go to get our top picks for snacks.

Nuts Are Great Option to Maintain Weight or Gain Weight

Seeds Are Awesome Too!

Here are just a few options to get started with!
  

FlaxseedFlax Seeds

As early as 3000 BC, this powerful plant has been cultivated for its high content of omega-3 fatty acids, both soluble and insoluble fibers and lignans, which improve cardiovascular health. They are high in antioxidants and can stand among vegetables and fruits.
Ground flaxseed is usually the way to go because it’s easier for the body to digest. If you don’t buy it ground or milled then just use a coffee grinder and grind the seeds yourself.
It’s super easy to add flaxseed to almost any meal, by either blending them into muffins, topping toast, or mixing in with oatmeal or pasta. The list is endless. I add flaxseed to pancakes, oatmeal, and yogurt. And, that’s just for breakfast!
I buy flax seeds from Amazon. I’m sure it can be purchased at your local grocery store too. I’ve also seen it at Costco.

Chia Seeds

Healthy Muffins Recipe with Bananas and Chia Seeds. Healthy eating for kids.Chi-chi-chi-chia! We’re just as excited about chia seeds as the children that grew “pets” out of them! Chia seeds are higher in antioxidants than any whole food, even blueberries! These little seeds have more protein than beef and more omega-3 than salmon (2).

It is recommended to soak chia seeds in water or milk so the body can absorb its grand nutrients.

This nutritional powerhouse can be added to almost anything! Top yogurt or cereal, or even bake into bread and muffins. Get more Chia Seed Recipes here.

I’ve even used a 1:3 ratio of chia to water to substitute using an egg in a recipe!

Add chia seeds to muffins, pancakes, oatmeal, casseroles and meatloaf.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp Seeds: How to Add Nutrition to Your Kid's DietHemp seeds are very high in essential fatty acids and can improve heart health and function. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and have a subtle nutty flavor that can make a great addition to cereals or salads.

China has been using hemp seeds in their food and as medicine for over 3,000 years (3)!

I sprinkle hemp seeds on the same foods as flaxseeds — so virtually everything. Hemp seeds are more savory and have green specks in them, so if your child is sensitive to having anything green in their food, you may need to ease into this one. Or add it to foods like meatloaf or meatballs, where the green will be harder to spot.

Nutritional Yeast and How to Use It to Get HealthierNutritional Yeast

Adored by vegans for its cheesy taste, nutritional yeast can be added to pasta bakes, homemade mac n’ cheese, spinach-artichoke dips, soups and even in meatballs! Just imagine the possibilities of adding nutritional yeast to any recipe that calls for a rich and creamy flavor. Not only will this superfood add a blast of cheesy essence to any dish, but you’ll be excited enough knowing the benefits of consuming this nutritional powerhouse.

You can buy nutritional yeast right from our Amazon store or in your local Whole Foods!

Health Benefits of Superfoods: Brewers Yeast Health BenefitsBrewer’s Yeast

Similar to nutritional yeast, you can add brewer’s yeast into a variety of foods. Well known for its use in brewing beer, many people misconceive its nutritional worth. Lowering blood sugar levels and improving digestive health are some of it’s highly treasured traits. The mineral chromium in brewer’s yeast is often used as a base for many medicines and for those with diabetes! Expecting mothers also adore its ability to increase breast milk supply. Check out these additional natural supplements to help mom make more milk!

Light in texture, but a bit bold in taste, try adding brewer’s yeast to savory dishes. It’s a great way to add additional health benefits to meals that might be lacking essential vitamins and minerals. Our favorite ways to add brewer’s yeast are in soups and pasta bakes. I’ve even heard it is delicious when sprinkled on popcorn!

You can easily find brewer’s yeast in our Amazon store, too!

Replace All-Purpose Flour for Oatmeal Flour, Whole Wheat, and Almond Flour.

How to Use Alternative Flours to Replace All-Purpose FlourMake the most out of breaded chicken, fish and pork chops!  Use whole wheat bread crumbs or oatmeal flour. There is a much healthier alternative to processed plain breadcrumbs that you can find at a store.
To make oatmeal flour, simply grind old fashion rolled oats in a blender. Or just bread your food with whole wheat breadcrumbs.
We’ve even tried chickpea flour and cooked quinoa (which is fantastic for easy homemade chicken nuggets.) Traditional breadcrumbs are empty calories. Try replacing those empty calories with foods that are going to help spark energy and cognitive performance.
Who would’ve thought you could get your kid to eat chickpeas, sweet potatoes or almond meal while eating their favorite meals just by replacing the flour used in them?
And, as a general rule, try to stay away from all-purpose flour. It’s nutritionally devoid and can cause havoc in your child’s gut. Instead, buy tiger nut flour or amaranth flour right in our store and start using these healthier alternatives!
 

Beans and Legumes Getting kids to eat more legumes

Beans and legumes don’t get enough publicity in the health food world. Packed with protein and filled with fiber, beans and legumes are a staple in healthy eating. They have been found to actually lower cholesterol and provide sustainable energy, unlike other meat-based sources of protein.

Does your kid turn a cheek to eating beans? No problem! Right now, my twins don’t eat beans as far as they know, but they eat them all the time.

There are companies that have turned beans into pasta! Watch our video Get Your Kids to Eat Beans! Using Pasta to learn more. These brands also make pasta from all types of legumes and most of them are absolutely delicious. Others are good once covered in sauce.

I’ve also made healthy brownies made with beans! For me, it doesn’t compare with the real thing, but my twins loved them.

There are countless ways to sneak them into their diet. In some instances, you can even offer beans or legumes in plain sight through various forms of preparation that your kid will be more likely to try! Check out our bean recipes for more ways to cook beans.

TIP: It’s important you continue serving beans too. If you always hide them then your child won’t know he is eating them and may not grow to like them on his own.

Avocados

Healthy-Sandwich-Sprouted-Bread,-Avocado,-MicrogreensAvocados are an excellent source of healthy fats and are high in nutrient-dense calories. One study described a significant relevance between avocados and pregnancy.

Avocados are high in folate which has been shown to reduce the risk of a miscarriage and neural tube defects (4).

Our brains are actually made up of 60% fat, which undoubtedly shows the importance of consuming fat. New research shows that eating fat does not make us fat. One doctor pointed out if we eat green food, we will not become green and it’s the same way with healthy fats.

Kids need even more healthy fats than adults for their brain and nervous system. Load up on avocados! I have a horrible time keeping avocados so I buy Wholly Guacamole from Costco and use that. It’s organic and it stays fresher longer.

I often take the whole package of Wholly Guacamole and I add some microgreens, spinach, pine nuts and walnuts and grind it up in my blender. I use that as my pesto sauce for bean noodles. It takes just a few minutes and it’s so nutritious! We all gobble it up.  

Or I add avocado, micro greens, or sprouts to some sprouted bread and serve it. My kids pull off the micro-greens and eat them individually calling them grass. We have fun with it. I was surprised by their willingness to eat them. I think it stems from us gardening together and they often pull the herbs off the plants and eat them. Watch the video for all the reasons on why you should garden with your kids.

Salmon

Salmon Is A Great Food for KidsIt’s no secret that salmon has benefits to your health.  For starters, salmon has tons of Vitamin D in one serving. It also has been shown to improve cognitive development in infants and academic performance in children, as well as lessen ADHD symptoms (5).

Try to eat fresh caught salmon as much as possible versus farmed raised. I know this one can get costly!

If your child doesn’t eat fish, try pureeing it and adding it to meatballs, mac and cheese, or other foods where the flavor can be hidden. Remember to also serve a little on the side of the dish to get your child used to seeing salmon in its natural state.  

I serve salmon spread for breakfast. It’s smoked so I try to limit how often we eat it, but my daughter absolutely loves it. We also eat lox, nova, and sushi.

We do our best to offer the same types of foods in a lot of different preparations, textures, and flavors.

Coconut Oil in PanOlive and Coconut oils

Skip the Pam spray and vegetable oil and opt for coconut or olive oil instead!

Olive oil is a healthy dietary fat with over 50 years of research pertaining to its benefits to the human body. It has been shown to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and also prevent cell destruction. It’s extremely high in antioxidants, which can benefit your skin and hair as well as your heart health.

As mentioned, kids need healthy fats for brain and nervous system development.

Coconut oil is recently famed for its use in a variety of ways. The media claims that coconut oil fixes everything, from being a replacement cooking oil to removing makeup and extending the life of eggs in your fridge. There are countless resources establishing its greatness, but it’s clear that everyone needs a little coconut oil in their lives. Plus, it has a nice sweet flavor. I use this to roast many of our vegetables.

Roasting veggies can bring out the sweet flavor in them, which may help your child like them even more. And it sure beats eating steamed veggies all the time.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that is sold in three different styles: white, red and black. If you can purchase sprouted quinoa, go for that one. Sprouted foods are even more nutritious. Quinoa has high levels of protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Quinoa is especially high in fiber, with over twice as much content than other grains (6).

Get tons of vegetarian recipes using Quinoa. Or, learn how to make bread and pizza using quinoa instead of all-purpose flour.

Cottage CheeseCottage-Cheese-Breakfast

Cottage cheese is high in protein content. Pregnant women are advised to eat cottage cheese for the phosphorus content to maintain bone health. The calcium in cottage cheese is essential for a growing baby to develop. If you can, try to purchase the cottage cheese with live cultures for added gut health. I just discovered a brand with live cultures and now that’s what we eat.
My daughter loves plain cottage cheese. Her twin isn’t a fan. I often add cottage cheese to my pancakes, muffins, baked potatoes, and anything else I can think of. I want them to start their day with a high fiber, high protein breakfast to conquer their day.
You can dress up the cottage cheese with fresh fruit and some honey. Check out our article to find out if honey is healthy or just another sugar to learn more about the health benefits of honey.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt outweighs other dairy products by being higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates and sugar, so go for the plain variety. Greek yogurt is high in iodine which is important for a healthy metabolism and thyroid performance. The calcium content is another no-brainer, but its biggest winner is the probiotics.

Probiotics help your child’s immune system fight off illnesses and maintain a healthy digestive system. New studies are coming out every day about the importance of keeping our gut health in check. Stay tuned for future articles and videos about this. Also, try Kefir. It’s loaded with probiotics too.

EggsChild-Eating-an-Egg

Eggs aren’t just stock-full of the nutrient choline, they’re also rich in protein, which is important for building strong muscles (3).

Eggs are an easy food to introduce in a number of meals, they can be mixed in rice for a stir fry or mixed to be made into an omelet. Eggs are an amazing brain food and health food.

Choline is an essential nutrient that helps develop the brain, with brain function and is useful for getting the mind to communicate with other parts of the body (5). Choline is found in eggs, Brussels sprouts and beans.

Whole Milk, Butter, and Cheese

How to Improve Athletic Performance with Superfoods - Checkout what foods your kids can eat to get them into the game and be active without feeling tired. Feed them food that matters. New research is showing that whole milk may be better for all of us versus low-fat milk. It helps keep us fuller longer, which can help us reduce our need for empty calorie snacks.

Milk is rich in calcium, which builds and fortifies strong bones. Milk is also rich in other nutrients that are helpful to any growing, active child. These include protein and carbs, as well as fats (3). All of these nutrients will make your kid stronger, which is why milk makes such a super food.

Complex Carbs (Whole Wheat Bread)Complex Carbs

If you have white bread in the house, dump it. While I grew up on white bread, it’s nutrient poor and we should limit how much we eat. We don’t want to load our kids up on empty calories when every calorie counts.

Complex carbs are high in fiber and are great at stabilizing and balancing the brain (5).

Carbs break down into glucose, a sugar that the body can use for energy, but unlike simple carbs, which are troublesome because of how fast they can be broken down, throwing off energy levels and causing unhealthy weight gain; complex carbs break down slower and will keep your child’s body better regulated (5).

By making sure you feed your kid a wholesome meal rich in complex carbs you will help boost his mental powers and make him a thinking machine!

Protein Shakes for KidsHow to Buy Orgain Shakes

While I prefer to give my kids whole foods, it’s not always possible. I’ve given my kids Orgain Chocolate Shakes, Vanilla or Strawberry before. Their milk chocolate flavor is delicious and they are full of protein and vegetables. Since my twins never get chocolate milk, they do demand these, so I rarely have them in the house. We eat well so I’m less inclined to stock up on nutritional shakes. These shakes have about 13 grams of sugar. I’m not a fan of that much sugar in a beverage, but compared to the ones below, it’s a clear winner.

PediaSure Nutrition DrinkLook out for PediaSure. They have 23 grams of sugar per serving. That your child’s entire day’s worth of sugar in one drink.  I’m not a fan of anything with that much sugar in it. The second ingredient after “water” in PediaSure is “SUGAR!” The second ingredient. Find a brand with less sugar!

I hear Pediatricians recommend this option all the time. They tell parents to not worry too much about what their kids are eating and for them to drink a PediSure. It makes me think, what life-long habits are we teaching our kids? Can this attitude be one of the reasons why 30% of all children are overweight or obese and why 2 out of 3 adults are overweight? Check out our article about How Much do Pediatrician’s Know About Nutrition.Pedia Smart!

The first ingredient in PediaSmart is SUGAR since you need to add water yourself! PediaSmart does have less sugar than the PediaSure drink by 5 grams of sugar, so that’s already a start. It’s more important than ever to get kids off chocolate milk. This might be a good way to start transitioning off chocolate milk. You can add less and less mixture so bring down the taste and over time completely transition your child to water or plain milk.

If your child is hooked on chocolate milk than these can be better alternatives to plain chocolate milk. There is no judgment here!

We covered a lot in this article, but there are even more superfood add-ins you can be using to pump up the nutritional value of the food your child is already eating.

 

Want to make kid favorite foods nutritious? Find out how here! You’ll love these tricks and tips and so will your kid! Feeding My Kid is filled with all the information you need about how to raise your kids, from healthy tips to nutritious recipes. Healthy eating for kids. #FeedingMyKid #kidshealth #nutrition #favoritefoods

Citations:
  1. National Institute of Health: Health Benefits of Nut Consumption
  2. Chiatrition: Nutritional Information
  3. Food and Agriculture Organization: Hempseed As a Nutritional Resource: An Overview and Superfood Health Benefits: 10 Healthy superfood ideas for Young Athletes 
  4. Medical News Today: Avocados: Health Benfits, Nutritional Information
  5. Dr. Axe: 8 Proven Salmon Health Benefits and Nutritional Information and Healthaliciousness: Top 10 foods Highest In Omega-3
  6. Authority Nutrition: 11 Proven Health Benefits of Quinoa
The information on this website is designed for educational and/or entertainment purposes only. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns regarding your child’s condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses.
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