Superfoods: It’s a term used to describe a nutrient-rich food that offers a plethora of health benefits.
And what better way to create a balanced diet for your kids than to make sure these “super” foods are incorporated into daily meals.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, a health expert and host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” says introducing foods to your toddler can be a challenging and exciting process. Parents should aim to include “foods that are often high in protein, fiber and unsaturated fat.”
“Just because a child refuses carrots once doesn’t mean you shouldn’t serve them again,” he says. “There are a lot of clever ways to pack superfoods into the meals you serve your little one, sometimes even without them knowing. Sometimes it’s simply about presentation as well.”
Dr. Oz suggests serving these “super” foods with items that your kid already enjoys.
“Legumes — including chickpeas, lentils and black beans — are high in protein and fiber but they also have iron, which is critical to your child’s health,” he says, noting that iron deficiency occurs in roughly 14 percent of children, especially when they transition from breast milk or formula to table foods. “Iron deficiency, over time, can ultimately impact behavioral and brain development in your child because iron is an important component of red blood cells and are necessary to promote strong brain and muscle growth.”
Blend chickpeas into a hummus and serve with cut-up vegetables, such as carrots. Dr. Oz also suggests combining vitamin C-rich foods with iron-rich sources to increase iron absorption in the gut. Some examples can be pairing broccoli with beef or turkey or adding strawberries to iron-fortified cereals.
“Popeye wasn’t wrong about spinach. This super green has lots of iron and also plenty of fiber, which a young digestive system needs,” Dr. Oz says. “Spinach is also a great source of vitamin A and manganese, a mineral that aids in the formation of connective tissue and bones.”
Blend spinach into a smoothie with fresh berries, banana and full-fat yogurt, or top fresh spinach with strawberries and a light citrus vinaigrette.
“Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are important for healthy nerves, brain and skin,” he says. “Avocados are a satisfying and filling fruit, and their creamy texture means they’re an easy-to-hide healthy ingredient.”
Make a healthy banana pudding. Combine a quarter of an avocado and one ripe banana into a blender or food processor. Add a splash of unsweetened almond milk and a dash of cocoa powder.
“Blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are high in vitamin C and E,” Dr. Oz says of these great toddler finger foods. “They provide the nutrients that are critical to a healthy immune system and repairing cellular damage from free radicals. They also pack a lot of fiber, and are, obviously, tasty.”
Top on yogurt, and hot and cold cereals.
“Fermented food is important, by introducing good bacteria into the digestive system to boost the gut health,” he says. “Yogurt is a great source of these probiotic bacteria, and also contains vitamin B-12, calcium and magnesium. Yogurt is also packed with protein and is a satisfying snack or meal.”
Mixing a small spoonful of almond or peanut butter into plain Greek yogurt, and top it with fresh berries.
“Orange fruits and vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, which is important for vision,” Dr. Oz says. “Carrots are also a great source of vitamin C, K, B6, folate (B9) and potassium.”
Hide in your kid’s favorite baked goods, such as oatmeal cookies or quick bread.
Recipe ideas courtesy of Dr. Mehmet Oz of “The Dr. Oz Show”
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