That’s the question tackled by Sally Kuzemchak, M.S., R.D. in her new book “The 101 Healthiest Foods for Kids.” With a friendly tone, tons of recipes, fascinating facts and handy lists, this book is a must for parents who want to raise the nutritional bar for their families.
7 things I learned about the healthiest foods for kids
Kids don’t necessarily need multivitamins.
Good because I keep buying them, forgetting to give them out and throwing the whole bottle away when my husband notices they’ve expired. In some cases a vitamin may be useful though. “If your child is a very picky eater, eating few to no fruits and vegetables and limited numbers of other foods, a multivitamin is a helpful insurance policy,” Sally explains in the book. “Specific vitamins and minerals may make sense for some kids: For instance, children who are low in iron may need to take a supplement. And most kids benefit from taking 400 IU of vitamin D a day.” As always, talk to your pediatrician to find out what’s best for your family.
Mushrooms are rockstars!
Turns out, mushrooms have lots of vitamins and minerals AND give you a sense of “umami”, the fifth taste sense. Try our:
- Crepes with Sausage & Mushrooms
- Veggie-Filled Marinara Sauce with Carrots, Peppers & Mushrooms
- Ginger Penne with Pork, Peas & Mushrooms
Some foods aren’t as healthy as they seem.
See: Frozen yogurt, fruit juice and granola–all so full of sugar that any possible health benefits are pretty much nixed. (Got diehard juice drinkers? This is a great substitute.)
Canned & frozen veggies are just as nutritious as fresh — maybe more so!
They’re picked hours before processing. One important note: if you’re using canned, Sally recommends rinsing them off to reduce the sodium. I’m a frozen veggie devotee and these are my favorite ways to use them:
- Our Kids’ Favorite Broccoli Soup that Starts with a Frozen Bag of Broccoli
- How to Roast Frozen Cauliflower
- Transform Frozen Spinach into a Garlicky Sauteed Side
Don’t worry about salt or fat–when it comes to serving vegetables.
“You shouldn’t fear salt and fat when it comes to serving veggies,” Sally writes. “A little pat of butter or a sprinkle of salt can go a long way in giving veggies and other healthy foods extra appeal.” Truth! From Sweet Potato Oven Fries to Roasted Baby Carrots with Maple Syrup, a sprinkle of salt plus that drizzle of olive oil makes all the difference.
Yogurt is the best food for boosting immunity.
Runners up include sweet potatoes and beef.
- Yogurt Parfait Popsicles
- Sheet Pan Dinner Favorite: Kielbasa, Sweet Potatoes & Apples
- Mini Meatloaves, a Barefoot Contessa Recipe Makeover
You can replace meat with walnuts!
“In a food processor, pulse walnuts and cauliflower (or mushrooms) and add to taco meat or pasta sauces in place of some (or all) of the meat.” So smart! Your meals will go farther too. Leftovers from Taco Tuesday can become Taco Pop Tarts or Taco Casserole later in the week.
More Smart Ideas for the Healthiest Foods for Kids