Whether you want to completely overhaul your family’s diet, or you just want to make subtle changes here and there, there are several healthy “buzz foods” that can take you there. I hate to call foods trendy, but there certainly do seem to be a rotating belt of healthy options that we may try to get our family on board with at any given time. I’ve done my research and have in fact found that all of the following foods are nutritious and offer great potential health benefits, so why not try and sneak some in here and there to my kids diets? Well, try as I might, I just can’t get my kids to eat, let alone fall in love with, the following 8 “trendy” health foods. But don’t despair, there are plenty of empty calorie foods we’ve successfully ditched, and replaced with healthy alternatives that my kids love, and I’ll share those next week. But for now, let’s take a look at the ones they’re passing on.
Kale Chips 1 of 8
If you don't think foods can catch on and take a nation by storm, consider kale. In the last few years, the dark leafy green has moved from a virtual nobody at the dinner table, to popping up on almost every single restaurant menu across the country. There's kale salads, soups with kale, kale smoothies, kale green juice, and the beloved kale chips, which are sure to get your kids to ditch their cheesy goldfish crackers in favor of of them. There's even a National Kale Day, which happened to be celebrated just this week on October 2nd. I celebrated by making kale green juice and kale chips, because I actually like the leafy green. My kids on the other hand, took one look at the stuff and did the universal nose scrunch that signifies "Ewww!" After some prodding, they tried the salty chips, and proceeded to spit it out. I couldn't even get the baby on board, who normally eats everything! Oh well, more for me I suppose.
Sweet Potatoes & Yams 2 of 8
Not all potatoes are created equal, and while the traditional white potato and its sweeter cousins, yams and sweet potato, are similar in calorie count and vitamin and carb count, nutritionally, sweets do outweigh white potatoes. They are loaded with antioxidants, and are rich in Vitamin C and beta-carotene. As a mom though, I appreciate sweet potatoes' lower glycemic index. Foods with a lower glycemic index don't create those nasty sugar spikes which are hard on our bodies and make little kids prone to even crazier behavior. I've offered and served sweet potatoes as fries, tater tots, smeared on quesadillas, and loaded with butter and a drizzle of maple syrup, even hidden in rich meaty stews. My kids detect their sweetness every single time though. It's like they can sniff it out from a mile away. Each and every time, they say the same thing, "too sweet!" What kind of kid doesn't like things that are too sweet? Turns out, mine.
Quinoa 3 of 8
An article was recently written about quinoa, with the word superstar in the headline, and it referenced words like trendy, hipsters, and twenty-somethings in its text. If ever a health food that's been around for ages is now trendy, quinoa is it. High in protein and a great complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index, it has the power to be filling and provide good solid energy, which is great for kids who are always on the go. I've perfected my quinoa recipe and in fact, thanks to Gwyneth's tips on cooking the seed, my quinoa has never tasted better. But my kids still won't eat it! They'll begrudgingly put a few kernels on their tongue and swallow in disgust, and then promptly ask for "rice please!" At least I've got them hooked on brown rice. Maybe some day when they're hip and in their twenties, they'll appreciate the powers of this food superstar.
Almond Butter 4 of 8
It seems like we keep trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to healthy food. When I was a kid we used to get our peanut butter out of the old fashioned grinding machine at our corner grocery store. It was as fresh as could be, tasted great, and we got to see food being made in process. What a cool experience. Somehow over time peanut butter got reinvented and became loaded with sugar add-ons, like jelly swirled in the jar, and the natural oil that rose to the top was gone, thanks to loads of preservatives and highly processed manufacturing. So we started looking towards alternative "nut butters," and while almond butter is essentially a tiny bit healthier than peanut butter, it's really only because it is processed differently. The bottom line though, after fighting with the kids to eat the more expensive almond butter, I think I'm going to give up the good fight. They naturally prefer the taste of peanut butter, and as long as it's all-natural without all those added preservatives and sugars, the nutrition benefits are almost equal.
Desserts In Disguise 5 of 8
The kids came home from school the other day and could tell I had been baking. On excited tip-toes, they peered into the fridge to see Gwyneth's "candy bars" chilling, and their excitement instantly waned. They looked at me and said, "Is this another Gwyneth recipe?" Guilty as charged. The kids can now easily tell the difference between a nutritious, healthy dessert in disguise, and the "real thing." I'm not really willing to give up the fight on this one though. While my vegan brownies and oat cookies may not get gobbled up with the same enthusiasm as a traditional store-bought cupcake or chocolatey chocolate cookie, I feel much better feeding them these healthier desserts because the health benefits are far superior. Whereas the difference between almond butter and peanut butter is nil, homemade "healthy" desserts are much better, and don't fill my kids up with as much processed and refined crud. Sorry kids, your taste buds better get used to this new way of momma baking. It's here to stay.
Almond Milk 6 of 8
I've grown quite fond of almond milk and keep it on hand for cereal and daily smoothies. While I'm not really pushing the kids to switch from cow's milk to almond milk, as they have no dairy intolerance and I buy organic milk, I do think it's funny that they refuse to drink the stuff if we run out of regular cow's milk. I keep trying to pass it off in smoothies too, and they'll drink them, but a bit begrudgingly. They ask every time, "Did you make this with almond milk?!" Almond milk is a great source of protein and calcium, and lower in calories than cow's milk, which is why I keep it stocked in the house. Don't worry kids, I won't make you switch over, but some days beggars can't be choosers!
Tofu 7 of 8
While tofu is by no means "trendy," it is still a common staple for most vegetarian, and even health-conscious consumers. I don't often cook with it because I try to limit our soy intake, but have used it a few times in sautees, and have ordered it at restaurants when I wasn't sure about the meat they were using in their foods. It's funny how when you need kids to clean their room, they don't hear you, but when you try to sneak in new foods, all senses are intact! They can taste, feel, and smell the difference in tofu, and don't want any part of it. I did have great success though when I've made veggie dumplings, with tofu mixed in with rice and peas for the filling. They were none the wiser and I felt very triumphant.
Gluten-Free Bread Items 8 of 8
Gluten-free bread products are a health food item I can actually agree with the kids on — we just don't like them. I've tried various breads, tortillas, English muffins, and even bread crumbs, all gluten-free, and the consensus is unanimous, they just don't taste good. After wasting money on several gluten-free bread items, which didn't get eaten, we've decided to pretty much ditch the quest for a gluten-free diet. The family doesn't seem to have any intolerance to gluten, so for now we'll stick to healthy and nutritious whole grains which do taste great and get happily gobbled up.