When you have picky eaters, you’re constantly looking for new foods, new recipes, and new ways to serve up meals all in the hope that your kids will eat healthy.
One of the keys to raising healthy eaters however, is consistency: have a handful of the same healthy foods that you offer every week, or every day. Years ago, when I was trying to eat healthy and lose weight, I developed a habit of eating the same foods nearly every day. It’s something I continue to do today for myself and I’ve realized it’s an effective way for my kids to eat healthy too.
Although it might seem like a boring way to eat, you can easily rotate the same foods into a variety of meals, change the cooking method or add different spices to get unique, healthy, and delicious meals and an ever-changing menu your kids will love. It also makes your life easier because there’s less guessing, what’s for dinner?
Here are 7 nutrient-dense foods I serve my kids almost every day and might inspire you to add to your kid’s diet too.
1. Green leafy vegetables
Broccoli, salad, asparagus, kale, spinach, and Brussels sprouts are a tough sell for many kids—including mine. One day they love them, the next? Not so much.
But it doesn’t matter because green leafy vegetables still show up on their plates at most meals, every day.
Green leafy vegetables are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and filling fiber which promotes satiety and prevents constipation. They’re also an excellent, non-dairy source of calcium.
My kids love green smoothies or green juices for breakfast. For lunch I usually make a large salad the three of us share and dinner is usually a cooked vegetable or another salad.
Since my kids eat a mainly plant-based diet, they live on beans and legumes. Beans are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and iron. They help balance blood sugar, combat constipation, give kids energy, and studies show, improve gut health and immunity.
Still not sold? Read 5 Reasons Your Kids Should Eat Beans.
Each week, I usually make a large batch of vegetarian lentil stew which lasts through several lunches and a few dinners. I also make large batches of bean burgers that can be re-heated for dinner.
I have a hard time getting one of my kids to eat fruit unless it’s bananas, cantaloupe and mango, but my other child loves all fruits, including berries. Whether it’s blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, she can finish off an entire pint in one sitting.
Berries are high in antioxidants, a good source of fiber, and low glycemic so they won’t spike your kid’s blood sugar. Serve berries as a snack, add them to yogurt and oatmeal, or incorporate them into baked goods.
My kids eat eggs almost every day whether it’s scrambled eggs for breakfast, hard-boiled eggs as a snack or a frittata for dinner.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, 9 essential amino acids and choline, a nutrient that supports memory. Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two types of carotenoids, or plant pigments, found in the eyes that can improve memory and processing speed, according to one study.
Salmon is one food I make a point to get in my kids’ diet every week, if not several times a week. Salmon is an excellent source of protein, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart-healthy and support brain health.
I usually serve salmon on Meatless Mondays and then 1 to 2 more times during the week for lunch.
An excellent source of protein, B vitamins and calcium, my kids usually have a serving of yogurt every day. Yogurt also contains probiotics, which are important for gut health.
When purchasing yogurt, be sure to read labels since many types of yogurt have more sugar than a candy bar. Instead, look for plain regular or Greek yogurt with live and active cultures, and add your own fresh berries to fiber, flavor and sweetness.
7. Nuts and seeds
My kids eat nuts and seeds almost every day including almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds.
Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of protein and fiber, calcium, magnesium and heart-healthy fats. But since they’re also high in calories, watch portion sizes and stick to a 1/2 an ounce.