So many parents struggle to get their kids eating good, healthy foods. Even if mealtimes are ‘relatively’ stress free, ensuring that they’re getting lots of fresh food and nutrients can be tough. None of us want to compromise our kids health obviously, but sometimes we end up cutting corners just to maintain some peace and our sanity!
With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to make sure that there’s some really nutrient dense options thrown in there, so at least if they only eat a little bit, you know that they’ve still got the most out of what they have had.
Most kids tend to like the flavour of the options I've listed below, they can be hidden fairly easily if need be, can really boost the nutrient content of their meals and they also contain lots of Omega-3 fatty acids, anti-oxidants and other beneficial phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Many of the conditions that are most common in kids, like eczema, dermatitis, asthma, ear infections, colds and food allergies, all have some similarities. They generally all involve some level of gut dysfunction, inflammation and immune dysfunction. The specific contributing factors can be different for everyone, but the research confirms that when kids (and adults) follow a diet that’s full of fresh, anti-inflammatory foods, that's lower in highly refined processed foods and have a healthy gut and well-balanced microbiome, their immune systems and resistance to these common conditions is much stronger, and the incidence and severity is much lower.
From there, addressing additional individual factors, nutrient deficiencies, improving gut function and balancing the microbiome can lead to often complete resolution of symptoms and minimise recurrence.
We all know the basics. Lots of veggies, fruit and other whole foods, good quality proteins and not too many processed foods. Sometimes this is really tough to manage with kids though, especially if you're just starting out! Here are some tips and tricks to make sure you’re adding more nutrients to even the most basic of meals.
Many kids will eat eggs, but some don’t like the texture or flavour and we also know that they're are amazing at loving a food one minute and hating it the next! Obviously assuming there are no egg allergies or intolerances, a good trick is to stir an egg yolk or 2 into meals like pasta, sauces, noodles dishes, stir fries. Not only does it add lots of beautiful nutrients, it also thickens the sauce and adds a nice creamy texture without the use of flours or dairy for those that are intolerant. You want the yolks to cook, but don’t want them to scramble, so once you’ve taken the food off the heat, stir the egg yolk/s through fairly quickly until it incorporates completely into the sauce.
You might be thinking, this is a terrible idea!! Anchovies have a pretty strong flavour and lots of adults don’t even like them, let alone kids! I’m not saying throw a bunch of anchovies into a salad, but just try adding 2-3 anchovies into the oil when you’re cooking and allow them to completely melt down into nothing then continue to cook the rest of the meal as normal. Pasta sauce, lasagne, soups, slow cooked meals, they add some extra vitamins, mineral and omega-3 fatty acids and a mild salty flavour. Always choose wild-caught anchovies (which you can buy in a jar from most supermarkets, just check the ingredients list) which have a much better nutrient profile and more anti-inflammatory fatty acids.
Raw unpasteurised miso paste isn’t something you’d necessarily think of as being something little people would love, but I find that a lot of them really love it when they’re given the chance. Added to bone broth with some noodles and veggies, added to dressings or dips, stirred into sauces towards the end of cooking. Such a beautiful gut healing food to add regularly to the diet.
Another gut healthy one that’s the perfect replacement for any soft drinks or bottled juices and poppers, and although lots of kids will be happy to drink it on its own, adding it to a smoothie or smoothie bowl in place of the water is a good way to introduce it if they aren’t on board just yet.
There’s roasted seaweed sheets and sushi which are pretty common and lots of kids will like, but you can also buy a good quality sea salt with seaweed, or dulse flakes that you can stir through meals or add as an ingredient to things like homemade burger patties to add lots of nutrients and they won’t even know its there.
As far as greens go, baby spinach has a pretty mild flavour and a lot more nutrients than some others, like iceberg lettuce for example. If they won’t eat them raw, a big handful can be blended easily into drinks, pancake mixes, sauces, meatballs and lots of other meals without really even changing the flavour.
There are a lot of options available now that mean you can get the benefits of bone broth without actually having to make it yourself. I do like making my own but it can be a bit time consuming so it's not always possible. I add Gevity Bone Broth concentrates to almost everything! Smoothies, omelettes, any cooked meals I make I add a spoonful to the sauce (curries, sit-fry, pasta etc.). I also use the Gevity Bone Broth Mayo’s in dressings, as dips, sauces, pasta salads and so many other things. By the way you can always get 10% off any of those products at Gevity if you use the code BELINDAB10.
Nutra Organics also have powdered broths that I really like. Just know that the 'stock' that you get from the supermarket isn't the same thing and doesn't have the same nutrient profile and benefits as a good quality broth, broth concentrate or powdered broth.
I hope you find these tips helpful and I'd love to see your creations and the ways you add them to the meals you make for yourself or your families. Tag me on social media or send me an email so I can check them out.