I shared with you all last week, the 8 trendy health food items I can’t seem to get my kids on board with, no matter how much I try to bribe, beg, and plead. It can leave a parent feeling hopeless and frustrated, wringing their hands and saying to themselves, “Why doesn’t my kid want to eat anything healthy?!” While my eldest has much more of an adventurous food spirit, my middle child is as picky as they come and I often find myself saying these words. But the more I thought about it, I realized not all hope is lost! There are several healthy food items all my kids will eat, even if some of them, they don’t even know they’re eating. Read on to see the 7 healthy food items my kids do eat and love.
Coconut Oil 1 of 7
While some may disagree as to just how great the health benefits of coconut oil really are, no one can argue that it's one of the healthiest forms of fats available, in that it has no cholesterol. Add in its natural high smoke point, and it winds up being a great option for cooking and baking, and gives the foods a wonderfully nutty flavor. Even those who claim to not like the flavor of coconut can't resist the oil's yumminess. On top of that, its natural antibacterial properties make it a great option in the treatment and prevention of cavities, and it is effective in fighting candida, the yeast-like fungus that can lead to thrush and gut problems. It's so effective in fighting bacteria in the mouth in fact, that the Athlone Institute of Technology, a research team that recently studied the oil, is pushing that it be added to all commercially available toothpaste, especially for kids. As one without dental insurance and 3 kids, this sounds like a good plan to me!
How My Kids Eat It: I use coconut oil in the skillet when frying up or scrambling their eggs, I use it when baking, and I scoop a spoonful of it into their morning smoothies. While coconut oil may have zero cholesterol, it is still a saturated fat, and should be eaten in moderation.
Non-Homogenized Low Pasteurized Milk 2 of 7
I told you all about my kids refusal to drink almond milk, and their ability to detect even the smallest amount of it in their smoothies. Well if they won't drink almond milk, I want them to at least drink the best cow's milk I can afford, because as it turns out, not all milk is created equal. In doing research, many agree that raw milk is the best source of calcium and nutrients available, but it's expensive and can be worrisome to any who suffer from compromised immune systems. Next to raw milk, it seems that organic milk that's from cows who are pasture-fed and is super low pasteurized, is the next best alternative. Ultra high temp pasteurization, like you find in some of the biggest label organic milk brands, kills much of the healthful nutrients, so much so that it is often referred to as dead milk. Low pasteurization heats up the milk to a low temp and for a short amount of time, just enough to kill any bacteria and make it safe for human consumption.
How My Kids Drink It: While homogenization, the process of mixing the cream and the milk together, doesn't add or take away from the nutrients, non-homogenization does allow the cream to rise to the top, and when shaken can lead to some clumps in the milk. Many kids hate it, but mine are okay with it. We give it a good shake each time and they drink it with their cereal or by the cup-full at dinner time. They love the sweet taste and smell.
Ground Flaxseed 3 of 7
Flaxseed, found in several forms, including ground and whole, offers a powerful nutritional punch with a sweet nutty flavor. Its nutritional benefits include Omega-3 fats, loads of fiber, and lignans, which is a group of chemical compounds found in plants and offers wonderful antioxidant benefits. While my kids are still a ways off, if you have high school or college kids who will be gearing up for exams and tests, recent research has found that adding in Omega-3s into their diet or via a supplement can help with brain power, specifically memory, and can help improve test scores.
How My Kids Eat It: When I first added flaxseed to the pancake batter, my kids said "Ewww, did you add pencil dust to our pancakes?!" While it is hard to "hide," once kids take their first taste they are usually converts. In fact mine said their pancakes were the best I'd ever made, after adding in a good spoonful of the stuff to the batter. I also add it to oatmeal and baked goods.
Nutritional Yeast 4 of 7
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast with a strong nutty, almost cheesy flavor, and has long been popular with vegans and vegetarians as a source of Vitamin B12. Nutritionally speaking, it is also a good source of B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein. It's low in fat, gluten-free, and contains no added sugars or preservatives.
While the nutritional benefits are well and good, it serves a great purpose in the fact that its cheesy robust flavor makes for a good substitution to loads of salt and butter.
How My Kids Eat It: Sprinkled on popcorn and in eggs. We don't eat a ton of it, but it's a nice alternative at times to salt and butter, even cheese every so often.
Whole Wheat Pasta 5 of 7
While carb-leery folks may dispute how healthy whole wheat pasta really is, any mom can agree that the vast majority of kids love a good pasta dish, so how do we get them to eat the healthiest stuff? Well, as I mentioned last week, my kids aren't a fan of the gluten-free, brown rice pastas available nowadays, and frankly, neither am I. With that in mind whole wheat seems to be the best route to take. Whole wheat pasta contains the 3 parts of the grain, including the outer layer (bran), the sprouting section (germ), and the starchy center (endosperm). Traditional enriched white pasta strips out the bran and germ, leaving just the starchy center behind, therefore whole wheat pasta offers more fiber, healthy fats and protein, and vitamins E & B than the white stuff.
How My Kids Eat It: We all love the organic brand that our local Costco sells and have switched to it without a hitch. We eat it just like we would any enriched white pasta, and have also found it tastes excellent when broken in thirds and added to chicken noodle soup. It's heartier texture holds up nicely in the soup.
Chia Seeds 6 of 7
Chia seeds are another one of those healthy items my kids don't really know they're eating, but they still reap the nutritional benefits. Those benefits include loads of fiber, protein, and Omega 3s. The fiber and protein helps fill up their tummies and gives them energy.
How My Kids Eat It: I toss a tablespoonful into their smoothies and oatmeal and baked goods. It has a very similar texture and crunch like a sesame seed, but without a strong flavor. I also love it tossed on salads or in yogurt.
Cacao Nibs 7 of 7
The bean of the cacao plant is the nutritional source for all chocolate and cocoa products. Cacao nibs are basically raw chocolate, and are pieces of the cacao bean that have been hulled and roasted, so these nibs are the nutrient dense part of chocolate, containing good amounts of fiber, iron, and magnesium. They taste a bit like coffee beans and are by no means super-sweet like chocolate chips, but they have a yummy crunch most grown-ups love.
How My Kids Eat It: I don't give them too many nibs or else they're bouncing off the walls, but I do sprinkle small amounts in their breakfast quesadillas, which I make with nut butters and berries, or I add a few nibs into smoothies or on top of ice cream. They feel like they're getting a chocolate treat, but I know it's free of all the added sugars, cream, and preservatives.