10 Worst Foods For Your Kid’s Health

10 Worst Foods For Your Kid’s Health

Ordering pizza, opening up a box of macaroni and cheese and grabbing ice cream at your favorite summer hot spot is inevitable when you have kids but if you really want your kids to eat healthy now and throughout their lives, it’s important to focus on healthy, fresh, whole foods.

Unfortunately, some of the worst foods for your kid’s health are heavily marketed to kids and busy moms, are in abundance on store shelves, fast food restaurants and vending machines and are making their way to homes and school lunch boxes.

Here are 10 foods kids should eat occasionally—or not at all.

1. Juice

Juice seems like a healthy option especially if it’s organic, not from concentrate and made with 100 percent real fruit juice, but it’s something kids shouldn’t be drinking.

For starters, juice is high in sugar. A 3.5 ounce cup of apple juice—about one serving for kids—has 9 grams of sugar. Since more fruit is needed to make fruit juice, there’s more calories, sugar and carbohydrates in juice than there is in whole fruit. Juice also strips fruit of its fiber, not a good thing for kids who don’t eat enough fiber to begin with. Drinking too much juice can also lead to cavities, weight gain or diarrhea in babies and toddlers.

2. Honey

Babies under 12 months old should never consume honey whether it’s raw, processed, local or purchased at the grocery store.

Although rare, there is a risk for botulism, a rare illness caused by toxins produced by clostridium botulinum, a spore-forming bacteria which can cause weakness, paralysis and even death. Before a year, babies’ immune systems are not strong enough to fend it off so they should never be given honey.

3. Bagels

Whether it’s for breakfast or school lunch, bagels are one of the worst foods for your kid’s health.

Bagels are made with white, refined flour, which have little fiber, lack nutrition and have a high glycemic index which spikes your kid’s blood sugar. They’re also high in carbohydrates. In fact, one bagel is the equivalent of 3 slices of bread which is more than your kid should eat for breakfast.

4. Soda and Sports Drinks

Kids who drink soda and sugary drinks is at an all-time high in the U.S. Between 2011 and 2014, 63 percent of kids drank a sugar-sweetened beverage on any given day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Studies show frequently drinking soda and sugar-sweetened beverages like sports and energy drinks is associated with health conditions like weight gain and childhood obesity, type-2 diabetes and cavities, among others.

Instead of sweet drinks, serve water instead.

5. Fruit Snacks

Fruit leather, fruit gummies and fruit snacks are one of the worst foods for your kid’s health.

Many of these snacks are marketed to parents as being a healthy choice and state they’re organic, made with real fruit and vegetable juices, have no high fructose corn syrup or artificial ingredients. Yet they’re highly processed, lack real nutrition and the fiber kids need in their diets and are high in sugar so they cater to your kid’s sweet tooth and make them prefer sweet foods.

Save fruit snacks for birthday parties, Halloween or special holidays.

6. Peanut Butter and Jelly

Unless your kid has food allergies, you probably feed him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. PB& J is easy, affordable and a sure-fire way to get your picky eater to eat lunch.

Look at most brands of peanut butter however, and you’ll discover they’re filled with oils, sugar and salt. Most types of jelly and fruit preserves are high in sugar too.

Read labels and look for peanut butter or another type of nut butter with minimal ingredients. I like Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter or Justin’s. Instead of jelly, mash up fresh raspberries for a delicious, fiber-rich option.

7. Tomato Sauce

Jarred tomato sauce makes for a quick and easy meal but most types are highly processed and loaded with calories, sodium and sugar.

Instead of feeding your kids jarred tomato sauce, make fresh tomato sauce at home with fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes.

8. Pancake Syrup

There’s nothing better than waking up on Saturday morning and whipping up a batch of pancakes or waffles for your kids. But most brands of pancake syrup are loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and caramel coloring.

Instead, serve real maple syrup and fresh fruit for added fiber.

9. Canned or Boxed Soup

Soup is easy, convenient and seems healthy, especially because it has good for you ingredients like vegetables and beans. Yet most canned or boxed soups are loaded with sodium. The same goes for fresh soups that are available in grocery stores and family restaurants.

When selecting soup, read labels carefully. Your best bet is to make a batch of your own soup in the slow cooker and freeze leftovers for another meal.

10. Salad Dressing

If you can get your child to eat salad, perhaps it’s because of a creamy salad dressing they love.

Most store-bought salad dressings however, are high in sugar, saturated fat, contain preservatives and are made with soybean oil, a man-made, processed oil.

Nix store-bought salad dressings and make your own fresh ones at home with lemon juice, avocado and vinegar.

 

10 Spring Superfoods Your Kids Will Love  Spring clean your kid’s diet with fresh, healthy and delicious in-season finds.

10 Spring Superfoods Your Kids Will Love

Spring clean your kid’s diet with fresh, healthy and delicious in-season finds.

There’s no denying it’s been a long, cold winter. We’ve had several snowstorms and 4 Nor’easters in March alone. Between the bitter cold, the blistery winds and all those snow days is enough for us for one year.

Now that spring is finally here and the sun is shining strong, the weather is warming up and the flowers are finally blooming, there’s also a wealth of healthy, antioxidant-rich and brightly colored foods available to feed your kids.

Put away the take-out menus and set aside all the comfort food and try these 10 spring superfoods your kids will love.

1. Asparagus

If you can’t get your kids to eat green leafy vegetables like broccoli and bock choy, you may have more luck introducing asparagus.

Asparagus is one of the best spring superfoods for kids, especially because it’s an excellent source of folate, or vitamin B9.

Folate is important during pregnancy because it helps to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida, but a deficiency in folate has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and depression. Although these health problems aren’t on your radar now, if your kids grow to like asparagus when they’re young, they’ll be more likely to eat it throughout their lives which can help them stay healthy. Folate is also vital for brain development and function.

Asparagus is low in calories, a good source of fiber, protein, vitamins A, C, and E, potassium, iron, magnesium and zinc.

Serve it alone, add it to a stir-fry, a pasta dish or fold it into eggs for breakfast.

2. Apricots

With their bright orange color and sweet flesh, apricots are one of the best spring superfoods for kids. They’re an excellent source of vitamins A and C and potassium and a good source of fiber.

They also make for a delicious addition to school lunches or an easy snack for road trips.

3. Spinach

Spinach can be a hard sell for kids but it’s a spring superfood that’s packed with nutrition so the more often you offer it, the more likely your kids will at least try it.

Spinach is high in iron which kids need for energy and it’s also a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins A,C,E, B6, folate, magnesium and calcium.

Make a green smoothie or green juice, sauté it with garlic or add it soups, stews and rice dishes.

4. Artichokes

Artichokes are the quintessential healthy spring vegetable.

One medium artichoke has nearly 7 grams of fiber and more than 10 grams of protein. Artichokes are also a good source of vitamins B6 and C, potassium and iron and an excellent source of magnesium.

Magnesium, the “calming mineral,” is also a cofactor that’s responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium helps the body produce protein and energy, supports the immune system, heart health and bone strength, maintains normal nerve and muscle function and regulates blood glucose levels.

5. Strawberries

Sweet and satisfying, strawberries are high in antioxidants, especially vitamin C as well as fiber.

Serve strawberries with sunflower seeds as an after school snack, add them to oatmeal, baked goods and salads.

6. Peas

Peas pack a powerful punch of nutrition. A 1/2 cup has 8 grams of fiber , 8 grams of protein and they’re a good source of vitamin A, C, B6, and K, magnesium and folate.

Add peas to soups, stews, pasta and rice dishes or serve alone.

7. Broccoli

My family eats broccoli all year long but spring is the season when it’s the freshest.

Green leafy vegetables should be a part of a child’s diet because they’re chock full of nutrition. Broccoli, in particular, is a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins A,C, B6 and E, and calcium, iron, magnesium, folate and potassium.

8. Blueberries

Like strawberries, these little gems are high in antioxidants like vitamins C and K and they may give your kids a boost in school.

In fact, an October 2017 study in the journal Food & Function suggests kids who eat blueberries have a better attention span perform faster and more accurately on executive function tasks—tasks like packing a backpack, planning a school project or organizing homework.

Since blueberries are easy for little fingers to grasp, they also make a good first food for babies.

Add blueberries to oatmeal, plain yogurt, chia seed pudding or serve as a snack.

9. Radishes

I’m not a fan of radishes so I didn’t buy them until last year when my daughter asked for them because one of her friends brought them to school as a snack.

Radishes are a good source of vitamin B6 and C, as well as calcium, magnesium, fiber, folate and potassium.

Add sliced raw radishes to salads, sandwiches or avocado toast or roast them for a delicious side dish for dinner.

10. Cherries

High in fiber, vitamin C and potassium, cherries are one of the healthiest spring fruits you can feed your kids.

If your kids are two small to eat around the pits, simple cut small pieces off the flesh. Cherries are delicious alone or add them to salads or meat dishes.

What are your favorite spring foods to feed your kids? Leave me a comment!

 

 

9 Brain Boosting Foods For Kids

9 Brain Boosting Foods For Kids

If your kids lack focus and concentration, have trouble memorizing facts for tests or you wish they’d bring home better grades on their report cards, it may not have anything to do with their interest or effort but with the foods they’re eating—or not eating enough of.

These 10 brain-boosting foods can help support their brain growth and brain health to do well in school and in other areas of their lives.

1. Salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids (EHA and DHA) are vital for brain function and consuming foods that are high in these essential fats may even give your kids an edge.

According to a December 2017 study out of the University of Pennsylvania, kids who eat seafood at least once a week have higher IQ scores that are 4 points higher on average than kids who eat fish less frequently or not at all.

Salmon is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids and is versatile enough to serve at any meal. Serve leftover salmon for breakfast on toast or paired with eggs or canned salmon on a sandwich or in a lettuce wrap.

2. Eggs

Not only are eggs an excellent source of protein which will help your kids stay focused, they’re also rich in choline, a nutrient that supports memory.

Serve eggs scrambled, in a frittata or quiche, or add hard-boiled eggs to a salad or bring them for a snack when you’re on the go.

3. Berries

Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are all high in antioxidants which may be brain boosting for your kid.

In fact, a January 2012 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found eating these gems can be beneficial to brain health and may ward off memory loss due to age.

4. Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that protects cells from the damage of free radicals.

Free radicals are an atom or a group of atoms that have an unpaired electron which makes them unstable or highly reactive. They can affect brain health and later on in life, cause a decline.

As a result, most of the research looking at the benefits of vitamin E are conducted in older adults. Yet the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory and visual and language development are rich in vitamin E so it makes sense to make sure your kid is consuming it.

Add sunflower seeds to oatmeal, salads and baked goods or serve with fruit for a healthy, brain-boosting snack.

5. Beets

Rich in antioxidants, beets also contain nitrates which increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain which make them one of the best brain-boosting foods for kids.

In fact, an October 2015 study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found drinking a glass of beetroot juice can improve cognitive performance.

Beets can be a tough sell for kids (and adults) but it may be easier if you incorporate them into a fresh homemade juice with a sweet fruit like apple. Or try this roasted beet and white bean dip, which was a hit with my kids.

6. Spinach

Folate, or vitamin B9 is well known to prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy, but folate is also important for brain function and necessary to make neurotransmitters in the brain.

The more frequently you serve spinach, the more likely your kids will eat it. Add some spinach to an omelet, a vegetarian lasagna or chicken “roll-up,” or incorporate it into a breakfast smoothie or fresh green juice.

7. Quinoa

Although it’s a seed, quinoa is often grouped with other whole grains foods like brown rice and whole-grain cereal which are great sources of B vitamins. B vitamins support the nervous system and studies show may prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Serve quinoa for breakfast with fruit and cinnamon, as a side at dinner or mixed into a yogurt parfait.

8. Beans

Beans are an excellent source of protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber which will help your child stay focused and on task but they’re also another great source of B vitamins.

Swap meat for beans in any dish, make a vegetarian chili or serve them as a snack or an appetizer before dinner.

9. Oats

Since oats are digested slowly, they’ll stave off hunger and keep your kids focused longer. In fact, a June 2005 study out of Tufts University found when kids ate oatmeal for breakfast they had improved cognitive performance, memory and auditory attention.

Oats are a great breakfast option but you can also use them to make gluten-free bread or energy bites.

10 Ways To Stretch Your Family’s Food Budget  Feeding your family healthy, fresh foods doesn't have to break the bank.

10 Ways To Stretch Your Family’s Food Budget

Feeding your family healthy, fresh foods doesn't have to break the bank.

Feeding your family a healthy diet can be more expensive than a diet made up of fast food and take out but it also doesn’t have to break the bank.

According to a January 2018 report by the United States Department of Agriculture, feeding a family of 4 a healthy diet can cost between $129 and $296 a week yet it may not be that much more expensive. In fact, according to a December 2013 meta-analysis published in the journal BMJ, the healthiest types of diets like those rich in fruits and vegetables, fish and nuts cost only $1.50 more per day than unhealthy diets made up of processed foods, meats and refined grains.

Whether your family’s food budget is tight or you have a bit to spare, here are 10 ways to make the most of it.

1. Pay Attention To Portions

In the U.S., our portion sizes are double—sometimes triple—the size of normal, healthy portions. Not only can overeating lead to weight gain and serious health conditions for you and your kids, it can also cause you to spend more money on food.

When you dish out food, pay attention to portion sizes. For example, a 3-ounce piece of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. Instead of making meat the main portion, fill up half your plate with vegetables and think about meat as a side dish.

2. Eat Less Meat

When it comes to meat, eating it everyday can get expensive especially if you purchase organic and grass-fed varieties.

Make Meatless Monday a habit every week or swap beans, legumes and vegetarian dishes for meat a few times a week to cut down on your food bill.

3. Carve Out Time For Prep

Pre-chopped and spiralized vegetables, pre-made salads, cut up fruit and canned beans make home cooked meals faster and easier but they’re also more expensive.

If you’re looking to stretch your family’s food budget, spend some time on the weekends or at night to pre-chop ingredients, assemble salads and soak and cook beans.

4. Buy Store Brands

When you purchase healthy food staples like rice, quinoa, vegetable stock and canned salmon, compare brands. Generic and store brands will usually be more affordable than national brands.

5. Shop Big Box Stores

Large retailers like Target often sell healthy food at significantly lower prices than grocery stores. I often pick up yogurt, bread, canned beans, salmon and sardines, chia seeds, nuts and almond milk.

6. Make a List and Plan Ahead

If you go grocery shopping without a list, you’re more likely to buy items you don’t need and spend more.

Before heading to the grocery store, look through your refrigerator, freezer and pantry and make a list to ensure you buy what you need. Meal planning a week’s worth of dinners can also help you make the most of your food budget.

7. Shop In Season and On Sale

When you purchase fruits and vegetables that are in-season, the food will be fresher and more affordable. Also, scan the grocery store circular for sales and stock up and freeze what you don’t plan to eat that week.

8. Minimize Food Waste

Food waste is a huge concern in the U.S. with Americans throwing away half of all produce each year.

To cut down on food waste, re-purpose leftovers into school lunches or freeze them for another night. If you have small amounts of odd vegetables but not enough for an entire meal, mix them into a stir-fry or blend them into soup. Small amounts of leftover fruit can be thrown into a smoothie or frozen as snacks for your kids.

9. Plant a Garden

 

If you have space, consider planting a garden which is an easy and enjoyable way to stretch your family’s food budget while also teaching kids where their food comes from. If space is limited, use a few planters for herbs.

10. Upgrade Dessert

Instead of offering packaged pudding, cookies or ice cream for dessert, make dessert healthy and more affordable. Make batches of chia see pudding, oatmeal energy bites or dried fruit alone or dipped in chocolate.

6 Reasons Why Avocado Is Healthy For Kids  Wit 20 vitamins and minerals, filling fiber and healthy fats, avocado is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

6 Reasons Why Avocado Is Healthy For Kids

Wit 20 vitamins and minerals, filling fiber and healthy fats, avocado is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

Avocado is one of those superfoods, super-fruits (yep, that’s right!), kids should eat—and eat more of. Like other types of brightly colored, good-for-you fruits (think: raspberries, blueberries and blackberries), avocado is one of the healthiest to add to your kid’s diet.

When it comes to avocado, you probably think guacamole. And although that’s certainly one way to get your kids to eat it, avocado is trendy right now—popping up in smoothie recipes, on toast or as a healthy swap in sandwiches.

Although the green color alone can be enough for you kid to snub it, like kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts, stick with it and continue to offer it regularly. Here are 6 reasons why avocado is healthy for kids and how to get it in their diets.

1. They Pack a Nutritional Punch

When it comes to getting nutritional bang for your buck, avocados are a great choice. With 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate and potassium, your kids will get a lot of nutrition without a lot of calories.

2. They’re Heart-Healthy

Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, healthy fats that can help reduce bad cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease later on in life.

3. They Can Boost Brain and Eye Health

Polyunsaturated fats like those found in avocado are vital for brain growth and development during pregnancy, for babies and children.

Avocados also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids or plant pigments, found in the eyes that can improve memory and processes speed, one study found.

4. They’re Naturally Nutritious

Avocados are naturally sodium, sugar and cholesterol-free.

5. They Give Vegetables a Boost

Eating avocado along with nutrient-dense vegetables helps kids to better absorb the fat-soluble nutrients from them like vitamins A, D, K and E.

6. They’ll Satisfy Your Kid’s Hunger

Studies show kids don’t eat enough fiber, especially because they’re not eating enough fruits and vegetables. The amount of fiber kids need vary by age, so be sure to check out the chart with recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020.

Avocado is a great source of fiber: one ounce has nearly 2 grams. Since fiber is digested slowly, it helps kids feel fuller longer. Studies show fiber may reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and obesity. Getting enough fiber every day also keeps your kid’s GI system moving and working properly which prevents constipation.

How To Get Avocado In Your Kid’s Diet

Mash or Dice

Avocado’s smooth texture and mild taste make it a great first food for babies. Mash it up or cut into cubes and let baby feed himself.

Swap

Instead of mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup on a sandwich, add a slice of avocado.

Toast

Add mashed avocado to your favorite toast, top with vegetables and breakfast is served.

Blend

Add some avocado to a breakfast smoothie to help your kids feel satiated until lunch.

Add

Avocado can be easily incorporated into salads and soups, added to eggs, vegetable, rice, or bean dishes.

Sweeten

Avocado makes a sweet chocolate pudding. Try this recipe.

10 Best and Worst Foods for Kids’ Teeth

10 Best and Worst Foods for Kids’ Teeth

I don’t keep candy in my house, but during Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day, my kids bring home lots of lollipops, candy and chocolate. I usually dole out one treat a day and even throw out some of it when they’re not looking. Not only is sugar addictive so they continue to ask me for it, but it makes them hyper, spikes their blood sugar, can lead to weight gain and cavities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2011 and 2012, 21 percent of kids between 6 and 11 years had at least one cavity in their permanent teeth.

I’m thankful that my kids haven’t had any cavities and I know it’s because they brush and floss, drink water and eat a healthy diet. The foods your kids eat have a big impact on their risk for cavities but surprisingly it’s not just the sugary sweets that are the problem.

Here, read on for 10 best and worst foods for your kids’ teeth.

Best Foods For Kids Teeth

1. Apples

Apples and other high-fiber fruits and vegetables work like a scrubber for the teeth by removing bacteria. Also, the chewing action helps to stimulate saliva and cleanse the teeth. The antioxidants known as flavonoids in apples may also help to prevent harmful bacteria from causing cavities.

2. Kefir

Not only is kefir an excellent food to feed your kids because it’s high in protein and a good source of calcium and phosphorous. Yet the probiotics that kefir contains, which are know to support gut health, may actually be beneficial for oral health too. In fact, a September 2012 study in the journal Nutrients suggests eating fermented dairy products like kefir may prevent gum disease.

3. Nuts

Not only are nuts are an excellent source of calcium and phosphorous which are beneficial for tooth enamel, but since they’re crunchy, munching on them stimulates saliva production which helps prevent cavities.

4. Strawberries

The vitamin C in strawberries can help fight the bacteria that leads to gum disease and maintain the PH balance in the body, which is beneficial for teeth.

5. Cheese

Cheese is rich in calcium, which builds strong teeth and bones, but research suggests cheese may also prevent cavities. According to a May-June 2013 study in the journal General Dentistry, kids who ate cheddar cheese had higher PH levels in their mouths, which may ward off cavities.. Casein, the milk protein in cheese, may also help to re-mineralize the calcium in tooth enamel.

Worst Foods For Kids’ Teeth

 

1. Dried fruit

Raisins, dried fruit and trail mix with dried fruit are quick and convenient for after-school snacks or road trips, but all types of dried fruit are high in sugar and super sticky—a bad combination for cavities.

2. Crackers

Crackers can make for an easy snack but crackers are starchy and once your kids start to chew, a gooey paste forms in their mouths and sticks to their teeth. The same goes for soft breads, chips and other crunchy snacks.

3. Fruit juice

Fruit juice—even those that are organic or made with 100 percent juice—are still high in sugar and acidic, which is harmful to tooth enamel. If you are going to serve juice, dilute it with water or make your own juices at home with 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent fruit.

4. Sports drinks

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says children should restrict or avoid consuming sports drinks because they can cause cavities. Water should be enough no matter how hard they play on the field.

In fact, a 2009 study out of New York University found regularly drinking sports drinks may lead to “erosive tooth wear,” a condition in which acids break down tooth enamel and eventually soften and weaken the teeth. Not only can it cause cavities, but it may lead to tooth loss, the authors note.

5. Fruit snacks

Kids love fruit leather and chewy fruit snacks, but because these are high in sugar and stick to the teeth, they’re one of the worst foods for your kids’ teeth.

 

10 Immune Boosting Foods For Kids  These immune-boosting foods for kids may help ward off colds, the flu and those nasty stomach bugs.

10 Immune Boosting Foods For Kids

These immune-boosting foods for kids may help ward off colds, the flu and those nasty stomach bugs.

If it seems like your kids are sick nearly every week, it’s not your imagination. According to a 2014 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25 percent of kids between ages 5 and 11 missed between 3 and 5 days of school during the previous 12 months because they were sick.

And this year, the flu season is turning out to be worse ever.

To boost your kids’ immune systems and keep them healthy, encourage proper hand washing, prioritize sleep and give your kids probiotics. Of course, food is medicine so offer plenty of fruits and vegetable and these 10 immune boosting foods.

1. Blueberries

A perfect finger food especially for babies and toddlers, blueberries are one of the best immune-boosting foods for kids.

Blueberries are high in antioxidants, namely a flavonoid known as quercetin which has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve immune function, according to a 2005 study in the European Journal of Immunology.

2. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of the best foods to strengthen your kid’s immune system because they’re rich in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A and vitamin A plays a role in immune function.

Make sweet potatoes baked, roasted or mashed and add them to stews or serve them as a side dish.

3. Eggs

Rich in vitamin D to help regulate and strengthen the immune system, eggs are one of the best immune-boosting foods for kids.

Eggs are also one of the most easy and versatile kid-friendly foods. Offer scrambled eggs for breakfast, hard-boiled as a snack or added to a salad or incorporate them into any rice dish.

4. Pickles

If your kids love pickles, serve them up with lunch because they’re one of the best immune-boosting foods for kids.

Most pickles on store shelves won’t cut it, however. Only those that are naturally-fermented contain probiotics. Also, pickles are high in sodium, so be sure to cut back on other sneaky sources of sodium in your kid’s diet if you decide to offer them.

5. Kefir

It might take your kids awhile to come around to its’ tangy taste and thick texture but kefir is an excellent source of immune-boosting probiotics.

Since kefir can be high in sugar, read labels carefully, opt for plain kefir and blend low glycemic fruit like blueberries or raspberries that won’t spike your kid’s blood sugar.

6. Tempeh

Made with fermented soybeans, tempeh is a great source of probiotics as well as protein, iron and calcium.

Add tempeh to your favorite stir-fry or salad, or use them in place of meat on taco night.

7. Yogurt

Yogurt can be a good source of probiotics but not any yogurt will do.

When reading labels, look for brands that state “live and active cultures.” Also, avoid yogurts that are fruit-flavored or contain fruit because they’re usually high in sugar. Sugar can feed unhealthy bacteria in the gut so to get the full immune-boosting benefit, aim for yogurt that has less than 9 grams of sugar per serving.

8. Almonds

Not only are almonds a great source of protein and fiber, but they’re rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that boosts the immune system.

Serve individual portions of almonds for after-school snacks or pack them when you’re traveling.

9. Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamins E and B6, both of which are good for the immune system.

Sprinkle sunflower seeds on yogurt or add them to baked goods for an immune system boost.

10. Chicken Soup

A well-known remedy for when your kids are already sick, research shows chicken soup may prevent your kids from getting sick in the first place.

A well-known study published in 2000 in the journal CHEST showed eating chicken soup can ease symptoms of a cold. Researchers found that the movement of neutrophils, white blood cells that defends the body against infection, was reduced which suggests the soup may be anti-inflammatory, ease symptoms and shorten the duration of infections.

Although homemade chicken soup is fresher, store brands may have the same effect but always read labels because many store versions—even those that the store makes in house—are filled with sodium.

Why Juice For Kids Isn’t Healthy  Although juice for kids can be a good source of nutrition for those who don't have access to fresh fruit, most kids don't need it and shouldn't be drinking it--here's why.

Why Juice For Kids Isn’t Healthy

Although juice for kids can be a good source of nutrition for those who don't have access to fresh fruit, most kids don't need it and shouldn't be drinking it--here's why.

Like milk, juice for kids is synonymous with childhood. We pack juice boxes for preschool, serve juice at birthday parties and some kids drink juice at every meal, all day, every day.

Juice seems like something your kids should drink. It’s made with fruit, so it must be healthy, right?

Juice does have some vitamins and minerals, but there are so many reasons why juice for kids isn’t healthy and kids shouldn’t drink it.

Why Kids Don’t Need Juice

If your kids are picky eaters, you probably worry about their diets and if they’re getting enough nutrients.

Depending on what they eat or don’t eat, it’s possible they could have some nutritional deficiencies. Yet if they eat fruit they’re probably getting the same vitamins and minerals that juice has and much more.

The recommended amount of fruit children should consume each day varies between 1 and 2 cups depending on a child’s age and gender. You can find specifics on ChooseMyPlate.gov. If you continue to offer a variety of fresh fruits and at every meal and snack, your kids will ask for fruit and hitting those targets isn’t all that difficult.

For kids who don’t have access to fresh fruit, such as those that live in food deserts, for example, juice can be a way to help them get servings of fruit. Some types of juices are a good source of vitamins A and C, folate, potassium and magnesium and some brands of juice may also be fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Juice Is High In Sugar

Sugar seems wholesome but read the labels and you’ll be amazed at how high the sugar content is. A 3.5 ounce cup of apple juice—about one serving for kids—has 9 grams of sugar. It’s sugar that kids who are likely getting sugar from other sources like yogurt and cereal don’t need.

The American Heart Association says kids under 2 shouldn’t consumer any sugar and those between 2 and 12 should consume no more than 25 grams—or 6 teaspoons worth of added sugar a day.

But if you look at most juice boxes, they contain “fruit juice from concentrate” which is actually added sugar. And even if the label says 100 percent fruit juice, it can still be made with fruit juice from concentrate.

Yet it doesn’t matter whether it’s natural sugar like fructose from fruit or added sugar. All sugar is the same and our bodies don’t know the difference. “Though natural sugar may seem harmless, your body does little to distinguish between the sugars in an apple versus those in a piece of candy,” Scott Kahan, the director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, D.C. told Time.com.

Since more fruit is needed to make fruit juice, there’s more calories, sugar and carbohydrates in juice than there is in whole fruit. Juice also strips fruit of its fiber, not a good thing for kids who don’t eat enough fiber to begin with.

Of course, allow your kids to drink juice regularly and chances are they’ll only want juice, sugary drinks and sweet foods.

Although a recent study found 100 percent fruit juice doesn’t spike blood sugar, experts raise important concerns and question the credibility of the study which, by the way, was funded by the Juice Products Association.

If the American Diabetes Association (ADA) says people with type-2 diabetes should limit juice consumption, then it’s fair to say for kids who are already overweight or have a family history of type-2 diabetes, drinking juice isn’t going to help their risk for developing the condition.

Drinking too much juice can also lead to cavities, weight gain or diarrhea in babies and toddlers.

When Can Kids Drink Juice?

In May 2017, the AAP issued new guidelines for fruit juice in kids’ diets. While the previous guidelines were 6 months of age, the AAP now says kids under age 1 shouldn’t drink juice.

For toddlers between 1 and 3, they say juice should be limited to 4 ounces a day; children ages 4-6 should have no more than 4 to 6 ounces; and children ages 7-18 should limit juice to 8 ounces.

Is Homemade Juicing Good For Kids?

Making your own juices at home is a great way to get in a bunch of vegetables and fruits into your kid’s diet.

While juice shouldn’t replace whole fruits and vegetables or be a way to sneak them into the diet, offering your kid fresh, homemade juices can give him a boost of nutrition and fill in some gaps.

When making homemade juices, follow the 80/20 rule: 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent juice.

Juice Rules

If you do serve your kids juice, don’t serve juice in a bottle, only a cup.

Homemade juicing is also a great opportunity to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables and teach kids how to make healthy juices.

Reserve store-bought juice as a treat: at a birthday party or during the holidays.

Do you give your kids juice? Do you make green juices at home? Let me know what you think in the comments section!

 

5 Ways to Satisfy Your Kid’s Sweet Tooth Without Sugar

5 Ways to Satisfy Your Kid’s Sweet Tooth Without Sugar

Is your kid’s sweet tooth out of control?

Sure, most kids love cookies, cupcakes and candy but if yours frequently ask for sugary treats or want more after a few bites, it can become a bad habit.

If your kids are like mine, having pudding, chocolate or pie in the house becomes a near obsession. Since they eat a mostly whole-foods diet, when there is sugar in the house—especially around the holidays—they ask for it every single day without fail.

Is Sugar Actually Toxic?

It’s no surprise that kids eat too much sugar. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16 percent of children and teens’ total calories come from added sugars.

Sugar can be addictive for some people and researchers say it’s actually toxic and can lead to weight gain regardless of the amount of calories.

According to a 2015 study published in the journal Obesity kids between the ages of 8 and 18 who reduced the amount of sugar in their diets but replaced the calories with starch, still showed improvement in blood glucose, LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides, and less fat in their liver.

Sugar is empty calories and has no nutritional value whatsoever. Eating too much sugar can take the place of more nutritious foods your kids need to grow and develop, weaken their immune system and lead to cavities. Diets high in sugar can cause weight gain, type-2 diabetes and increase the risk of dying from heart disease, an April 2014 study in JAMA Internal Medicine found.

Sugar may not make your kid hyper—I beg to differ—but eating sugar can make them feel sluggish and cranky.

The American Heart Association recommends children under 2 shouldn’t eat any sugar and those older than 2 shouldn’t consume more than 25 grams—or 6 teaspoons—of added sugars a day.

By July 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will roll out the Nutrition Facts label which will include a separate line for “added sugars” both in grams and as percent Daily Value. It’s a good start, but it can still be tough to decipher ingredients since sugar can hide in more than 60 names.

Not only is it challenging to eliminate sugar altogether, but kids—like adults—should be able to have a treat now and then. With these 5 tips, you can satisfy your kid’s sweet tooth without going overboard with sugar

1. Choose low-glycemic fruit

Surprisingly, the body can’t tell the difference between nutritive, sugars that provide calories like fructose in fruit and non-nutritive (artificial) sugars like those in processed foods and candy, for example. It’s possible therefore, that eating fruit, especially types that are high in sugar may very well cause your kids to crave more sugar.

Although fruit is natural and nutritious and you should aim to get a variety of fruits in your child’s diet, focusing on low-glycemic fruits like blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are always good choices because they’re fiber-rich and won’t spike their blood sugar.

2. Re-think dessert

Instead of cake, cookies and candy, re-think what dessert can be. Muffins, yogurt, trail mix, pudding and cereal may be better options, but pay attention to the sugar content because many “healthy” foods can have just as much sugar as traditional desserts.

3. Make frozen treats

Instead of ice cream, sorbet or frozen pies, freeze fruit or buy frozen fruit for a healthy, delicious treat. Frozen blueberries for example, are sweet and nutritious eaten alone or added to Greek yogurt for dessert. Or put frozen bananas in the food processor for a healthy, sweet treat.

4. Use baking substitutions

Find healthy alternative recipes for your kids’ favorite treats or try to use substitutions for sugar. Ingredients like rolled oats, bananas, applesauce, dates, figs, dried fruit, cacao nibs, vanilla and almond extracts, and cinnamon and nutmeg can cut down on the sugar without losing the sweetness and taste.

5. Use sugar substitutes—sparingly

Sweeteners like stevia, maple syrup and honey may be better than pure sugar or artificial sweeteners, but they still have sugar and they’re still sweet so be mindful about how much you’re using.

 

 

11 Superfoods for Babies: Best First Foods

11 Superfoods for Babies: Best First Foods

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Shortly after the birth of my first child, I read the “The Baby and Toddler Cookbook,” and with each page I turned, I grew more excited to learn about the best superfoods for babies and discover healthy and delicious recipes.

 

Recipes like pea risotto, red lentil and rice soup and beet and potato swirl. I couldn’t wait for her to turn 6-months-old so I could start offering her fresh, homemade baby food so that she would know what real food tastes like.

When you’re ready to introduce solids to your baby what should you feed him and what should you avoid? Is it OK to start with the good ol’ standbys like carrots, peas and sweet potatoes, or should you start with something that’s way more adventurous?

Here are 10 of the best superfoods for babies you can start to introduce at 6-months. They’re all delicious, easy to prepare and packed with the nutrition your baby needs.

1. Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, protein and choline, an essential nutrient that is beneficial for heart health, brain and liver function and metabolism. Egg yolks are an excellent source of iron, which is important if you’re breastfeeding because iron stores start to become depleted between 4 and 6 months old.

Eggs are delicious, have a delicate texture and are easy for babies to pick up or are easily mixed into purees or meals with chunkier textures. Since eggs are considered an allergenic food, be sure to speak to your baby’s pediatrician first before introducing them.

2. Carrots

Carrots get their bright orange color from beta-carotene, a carotenoid, or a type of antioxidant. Carrots are a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamins A, B6, C and K, and are a perfect first food for babies because they’re easily steamed and pureed. Their mild, but slightly sweet taste is favorable to most babies too.

3. Liver

It may not be a food you’ve ever eaten yourself, but liver is surprisingly one of the best first foods for babies because it’s rich in protein, iron, vitamins A, B6 and B12 and minerals like zinc and selenium.

If you decide to try it, it’s a good idea to purchase liver that’s from pasture-raised, organic fed animals and from a butcher you trust.

4. Broccoli

Want your kids to grow up to eat green leafy vegetables? Then start now.

Broccoli is a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, iron and potassium. Broccoli purees and mixes well with other fruits and vegetables but it can also be a great food for baby to pick up if you’re doing baby-led weaning.

5. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, vitamin C and fiber—a good thing if your baby is constipated. Sweet potatoes are also a great food to feed your baby when you’re traveling because they’re soft enough that you don’t necessarily have to puree them but you’ll have to decide whether it’s a texture your baby can handle or not.

6. Fish

Salmon, and other types of low-mercury fish, is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids which are important for baby’s brain development and eye health.

7. Apples

Apples are a healthy, delicious and easy superfood for babies and they’re easily digested. Not only are apples a good source of vitamin C and fiber, they also have quercetin, a flavonoid that work as antioxidants and may improve brain function, a March 2017 study published in the Journal Behavioural Brain Research suggests.

8. Beets

Their bright color may not only be appealing, but beets are also one of the most nutritious superfoods you can feed your baby. Rich in antioxidants, beets are a good source of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, fiber, folate, potassium and manganese.

Studies show beets may also be beneficial for brain health. According to an October 2015 study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, drinking beetroot juice can improve cognitive performance.

9. Bananas

Bananas are a good source of fiber, vitamin B6 and C and potassium and babies will most likely enjoy their sweetness.

10. Avocado

Avocado is one of the healthiest superfoods to feed your baby because it’s an excellent source of magnesium, potassium and essential fatty acids for brain health.

Just like sweet potatoes, ripe avocado is easy to puree, mash or cut up into small pieces.

11. Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and a good source of fiber, vitamins C and K and manganese. Let baby enjoy picking up blueberries with his tiny fingers or puree it into a vegetable and fruit smoothie.

10 Healthy Fall Foods To Feed Your Kids

10 Healthy Fall Foods To Feed Your Kids

It couldn’t be more beautiful this time of year especially in New England. In the town I live in, the trees are bursting with shades of red, orange, yellow and green, the weather is still warm enough to take my kids for a pre-dinner stroll and the fruits and vegetables that are in-season are simply delicious. When it comes to healthy fall foods to feed your kids, the options couldn’t be better. Here are 10 to incorporate into your meals.

1. Cauliflower

With a mild but slightly sweet, nutty taste, cauliflower is one of the healthy fall foods you can add to any meal. Cauliflower is a good source of fiber, protein, potassium, folate and vitamins C, K and B6.

Steam cauliflower, use the food processor to make cauliflower “rice,” or add some milk and a small amount of grass-fed butter and use the immersion blender to make a better-for-you version of mashed potatoes.

2. Butternut squash

There are so many types of winter squash but butternut squash is one of the most delicious and nutritious. Butternut squash is a good source of vitamins A, C and B6, folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on cubed butternut squash and roast it alone or with pumpkin and sweet potatoes, or puree cooked squash into a delicious warm soup for brisk autumn night.

3. Apples

Going apple picking with your family isn’t just a fun activity but a great way to get kids interested in healthy eating. Apples are an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C and make a great addition to oatmeal, baked goods or as a snack.

4. Pumpkin

When it comes to healthy fall foods to feed your kids, pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse. Pumpkin is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, filling fiber and lutein, an antioxidant well known for eye health. Roast fresh pumpkin with cinnamon or mix pureed pumpkin into baked goods for a healthy, delicious treat.

5. Sweet potatoes

It wasn’t until recently that my kids found out that not all potatoes are sweet potatoes. I rarely purchase any other type because sweet potatoes are by far the healthiest. Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamins A, C and B6.

They’re also versatile: swap toast for roasted cubes of sweet potatoes for breakfast, make sweet potato hash, add them to a salad or cut them up and make sweet potato fries as a side dish for dinner.

6. Figs

An excellent source of fiber and rich in calcium and potassium, figs may even ward off colds and infections this school year. Fresh or dried, figs make a great addition to your kid’s lunch box, or as an after-school snack or a healthy after-dinner treat.

7. Pomegranates

The tiny, bright colored seeds of pomegranate are a good source of folate and vitamins C and K. Surprisingly, they’re also a great way to get fiber in your kid’s diet: a 1/2 cup has 3 grams.

Add pomegranate seeds to yogurt, salads or any fruit salad.

8. Kale

Kale is a good source of fiber, protein, iron, calcium and potassium and vitamins A, C, K, B6.

Blend kale into a morning smoothie, add it to a frittata, serve as a salad or sauté it with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt for dinner.

9. Parsnips

A root vegetable, parsnips are rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin C and folate.

Puree parsnips into soups, roast them in the oven or sauté them with your favorite herbs and spices for a delicious side dish at dinner.

10. Brussels sprouts

I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way my kid’s going to eat Brussels sprouts, but if you serve them regularly, chances are your kids will come around. Brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamins A, C, K, B6, potassium, folate and iron.

Blanch or roast Brussels sprouts and add a bit of balsamic vinegar, nuts or raisins.

 

5 Health Benefits of Figs

5 Health Benefits of Figs

Figs probably aren’t the type of fruit you feed your kids every day. In fact, when you think about figs, you probably think fig Newtons—the cookies you used to enjoy as a kid and maybe feed your kids now. Although those cookies are delicious, they aren’t the healthiest treat to eat.

Yet real figs—fresh or dried—are, plus they’re tasty, sweet and have a chewy and slightly crunchy texture at the same time.

While apples, pears and pumpkin get all the attention this time of year, consider serving up figs at your kids’ next meal. Here’s why.

Filling fiber

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9 out of 10 kids don’t eat enough vegetables and 6 in 10 don’t eat enough fruit—two of the best sources of fiber. Since fiber slows digestion, it keeps your kids feeling fuller longer and may prevent weight gain and obesity.

Adding figs to your kid’s diet can be a great way to add more fiber. A half-cup of raw figs contain nearly 3 grams of fiber while the same portion of dried figs have more than 9 grams.

Rich in vitamins and minerals

Both raw and dried figs are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, yet dried figs have higher levels. For starters, figs contain calcium for strong teeth and bones and potassium which supports your child’s growth and the function of nerve cells in the body and the brain. Potassium also lowers blood pressure, which can help the 2 to 5 percent of kids who have hypertension but often go undiagnosed. Figs also contain other important key nutrients like magnesium and vitamin K.

Prevents colds and infections

With cold and flu season upon us, feeding your kids figs may prevent them from getting sick. In fact, a 2015 study conducted with grass carp suggests figs may have an immune boosting benefit.

Treats common ailments

The fruit itself as well as extracts and components of figs have been used to treat more than 40 types of ailments of the digestive, endocrine, reproductive and respiratory systems in the body as well as gastrointestinal tract and urinary tract infections. Although serious health conditions aren’t a problem for most healthy kids, the research speaks to the healing properties of figs and may give your kids an edge.

Prevents constipation

If your kids aren’t eating enough fiber, there’s a good change they are frequently constipated. Because of their high-fiber content, figs are among the many foods that prevent constipation. In fact, participants who consumed a paste made from figs saw a significant improvement in constipation, according to a 2016 study.

How To Eat Figs

There are so many ways to incorporate figs into just about any meal. Here are a few to try:

  • Swap your regular fruit for figs in lunch boxes or as an after-school snack.
  • Chop figs and add them to oatmeal, salads or plain, Greek yogurt.
  • Roast figs for a side dish or an after-dinner dessert.
  • Slice bread and make a crostini with a bit of goat cheese, figs and a drizzle of honey.