Food Allergies: Food Substitutions for 8 Common Allergens  Kids with food allergies don't have to miss out on delicious and healthy foods with these simple swaps.

Food Allergies: Food Substitutions for 8 Common Allergens

Kids with food allergies don't have to miss out on delicious and healthy foods with these simple swaps.

If your children are among the nearly 6 million children in the U.S. who have food allergies, you know avoidance is the first step. Yet if the foods your kids are allergic to are also a significant source of nutrition, it’s important to know what food substitutions they can eat to get the vitamins, minerals and key nutrients they need.

Here are 8 of the most common food allergens and food substitutions to consider in your child’s diet.

1. Milk

A cow’s milk allergy is the most common food allergy in babies and young children. About 2.5 percent of children under the age of 3 are allergic to milk, according to FARE.

Cow’s milk is found in many obvious foods like butter, ghee, cheese, yogurt and sour cream as well as chocolate, baked goods and even tuna fish.

Milk is a good source of calcium but there are plenty of healthy food substitutions like plant-based milks such as coconut milk, almond milk and cashew milk. Other calcium-rich foods include leafy green vegetables, sardines and tofu.

2. Peanuts

When I was a child, it seemed that the only thing kids ate for lunch were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. With the rise in peanut allergies however, all that has changed. It’s estimated that up to 5 percent of kids have a peanut allergy, according to a 2014 study in the The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Plus, kids who are allergic to peanuts have between a 25 and 40 percent chance of also being allergic to tree nuts, one study found.

If your child is allergic to peanuts and peanut butter (but not allergic to tree nuts), try soy butter, sunflower seed butter, almond butter, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.

3. Eggs

Eggs are a tricky food allergy especially since they’re used in many foods like baked goods or freshly prepared, ready-to-go meals you’ll find in the grocery store.

Eggs are an excellent source of protein and choline, but if your kids are allergic to eggs, try kidney beans, beef, salmon, turkey or chicken breast which also have these nutrients. When baking, any fruit puree or ground flaxseed makes for a good egg substitute.

4. Tree Nuts

Almonds, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts and Brazil nuts are a good source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. They also make for a healthy, easy and convenient snack for summer road trips or when you’re running around after-school.

The good news is that your kid may be allergic to certain tree nuts and not the others. If he’s allergic to all of them however, you can get the same nutrition that you get from nuts with seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, and chia seeds.

 

5. Wheat

If your kid is allergic to wheat, has Celiac disease or is gluten-free for another reason, it can be tough to find a food substitution.

But gluten-free flours like coconut flour and oat flour are easy swaps for baking and gluten-free grains like rice, millet and teff, or seeds like quinoa provide plenty of fiber and B vitamins kids need.

6. Fish and Shellfish

About 40 percent of people with a fish allergy and 60 percent of those with a shellfish allergy experience their first reaction as an adult, according to FARE.

If your kid is allergic to either one however, he’ll have to find other sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Eggs, beef, poultry, lentils and beans are all great foods to fill the void.

7. Soybeans

About .4 percent of kids have a soy allergy so avoiding foods like tofu, tempeh and many processed, packaged foods that contain soy will help keep your child safe.

To replace the nutrition from soy, add in beans, lentils and quinoa—all of which are high in protein and fiber.

8. Sesame

Sesame isn’t usually considered a top allergen but experts say although it’s unclear how many kids are allergic to sesame, it’s on the rise in the U.S.

The scary truth about sesame is that federal law doesn’t require food manufacturers to list sesame as an allergen on their packaging. It may not always be possible to avoid packaged foods but it’s the best way to prevent an allergic reaction.

Sesame is a good source of protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium but you can get these nutrients through other foods such as pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds and green leafy vegetables.

9 Healthy and Easy Egg-Free Breakfast Ideas For Kids

9 Healthy and Easy Egg-Free Breakfast Ideas For Kids

You already know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and with an excellent source of protein and choline (to support memory), eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

 

Yet what if your kids don’t like eggs, omelets, or a frittata?

 

Scrambling (no pun intended) to get your kids off to daycare or school in the morning is tough enough.

 

If your kid refuses to eat eggs or you’re simply looking for egg-free breakfast ideas, the good news is that there are several healthy and easy breakfast options they’ll willingly eat. Here are 9.

 

1. Avocado Toast

 

Avocado is chock full of nutrition, and high in fiber and healthy fats. When it’s paired with whole grain toast and vegetables or fruit, it also makes for a healthy and easy egg-free breakfast.

 

2. Breakfast Burrito

 

I know what you’re thinking: I can’t get my kids to eat beans for dinner, they’ll never eat it them for breakfast.

 

Stay with me, mama.

 

Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber which will give your kids plenty of energy and brain power until lunch time and the more often you serve them—at breakfast or at other meals—the more likely your kids will eat them.

 

Try putting out beans with their favorite extras: salsa, avocado, cheese and a whole wheat tortilla and let them make their own breakfast burrito or fajita. Or make a batch of bean burgers on the weekend for a quick and easy egg-free breakfast option during the week.

3. Overnight Oats

 

Cooking oatmeal in the morning takes time but putting together individual mason jars of overnight oats takes just a few minutes. Start with rolled oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill) and add milk, fruit and chia seeds and you have a healthy and easy egg-free breakfast ready by the time your kids wake up.

4. Parfait

 

Greek yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and protein and a parfait for breakfast couldn’t easier. Since most yogurt brands have plenty of added sugar, stick with plain Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit like raspberries and a low-sugar granola for extra fiber.

 

5. Green Smoothie

 

I make a spinach smoothie every morning for myself but my kids always ask to have some. Although I never advocate for sneaking vegetables into meals, a smoothie is an excellent way to get in a lot of nutrition in a few sips.

 

When making smoothies, stick to the 80/20 rule: 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent fruit. Add in a protein source like a nut butter, and chia seeds for omega-3 fatty acids and extra fiber, and you have a healthy and easy egg-free breakfast for your kids.

 

 

6. Breakfast bars

Grabbing a protein or breakfast bar is quick and simple, but most bars are high in sugar and contain artificial ingredients.

Instead, make your own breakfast bars with whole ingredients like oats, dried fruit and nuts or seeds.

7. Chia Seed Pudding

High in fiber, protein, and a good source of potassium and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods your kids can eat.

Serving chia seed pudding is a healthy and easy breakfast for your kids and because it seems like a treat, chances are your kids will love it. Add your kid’s favorite fresh fruit and a hint of sweetener and breakfast is served.

8. Tofu

An excellent source of plant protein, calcium and iron, tofu is also excellent replacement for eggs. Make a tofu “scramble,” add sliced tofu to whole grain bread or serve solo.

9. Leftovers

Who says kids should eat “breakfast” foods for breakfast? If your kid enjoys last night’s grilled chicken, salmon or a turkey and cheese roll-up, let it be. Add veggies or a piece of fruit and a healthy grain like quinoa for a healthy and balanced meal.

[VIDEO] 5 Reasons To Stop Feeding Kids “Kid-Friendly” Foods

[VIDEO] 5 Reasons To Stop Feeding Kids “Kid-Friendly” Foods

In the U.S., there’s a belief that if your kids are going to eat anything, it has to consist of “kid-friendly” foods.

Foods like chicken fingers, pizza and macaroni and cheese.

Kids foods are heavily marketed to parents of picky eaters who are desperate to get their kids to eat dinner—at the tune of $1.79 billion a year, a 2012 report by the Federal Trade Commission found.

Brands use favorite cartoon characters, celebrities, toy giveaways, and make pouches, snack packs, cereal boxes, juice boxes and frozen meals that attract kids and make parents’ lives easier.

The truth is that kids can eat what the rest of the family does—they don’t need kid-friendly foods. Here are 5 reasons to consider.

 

1. Kid-Friendly Foods Promote Picky Eating

If your kid has only a small stable of foods that he eats over and over again, he won’t have the opportunity to eat real, healthy, nutritious food or form his own food preferences.

Maybe he actually likes cucumbers, but if you tell yourself the only thing he’ll eat is PB&J, you’ll never know—and nor will he.

When kids eat kid-friendly foods, it fosters a belief that there’s something special or unique about the way they eat. But picky eating isn’t Celiac disease or a nut allergy. For most kids, it’s a behavior and a choice.

If you continue to serve kid-friendly foods because you think that’s the only thing your kid will eat, that’s exactly what will happen.

2. Kid-Friendly Foods Lack Nutrition

You might think feeding kids food is the only way to ensure your kid will eat something, but what’s the point if what he’s eating is highly processed and lacks the nutrition he needs to grow, develop and reach his milestones?

Most kids’ foods lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are high in sugar, sodium and artificial ingredients and preservatives.

That organic macaroni and cheese says it’s “made with real cheese” but cheese in a powder form is anything but real.

3. You Shouldn’t Be a Short-Order Cook

According to a 2017 survey by Uber Eats, to appease their kids, 36 percent of parents order food delivery from multiple restaurants and 54 percent sometimes cook multiple meals.

With all that you have to do in a given day, it’s hard enough to get a healthy dinner on the table. So to expect yourself to make an entirely different meal for your picky eater is not only unrealistic and time consuming, but from a parenting perspective, it’s not a good habit to get into.

Don’t get me wrong: when my daughter was a baby, there were times when I gave her a different food if she snubbed what was on her plate. I knew however, that I had better get out of that habit or it would create a bigger problem as she got older.

Giving in teaches kids that you’ll bend when they don’t like what you made for dinner and that behavior breeds a brat.

4. Kid-Friendly Foods Create Anxiety

My husband and I never have to think twice about what our kids will eat when we’re at someone else’s house because our kids eat anything.

It’s a different story however, when we’re the ones who have family and friends over. My husband will always make a meal with several, healthy and delicious options, but he also buys a box of pasta in case the kids refuse to eat what’s being served.

If your kid only eats kid-friendly foods, then you have three choices:

1. Bring something for your child to eat (see #2)

2. Rely on the host to make something else (see #2)

3. Cross your fingers and hope your kid takes a bite of something

When you take kid-friendly foods off the menu and serve kids what you eat, it becomes a lot easier to feed them when you’re at someone else’s home.

5. Kids Miss Opportunities To Eat Real Food

When you frequently serve kid-friendly foods, it fosters a belief and a habit that food comes out of a box, a bag or a pouch. Kids miss out on opportunities to enjoy food in its’ whole form and experience all the different flavors and textures only real food provides.

If you want your kids to eat healthy, they need to learn how to cook and how a meal comes together.

Take them to the farmers’ market and the grocery store and let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try. Let them help you in the kitchen, which can encourage them to taste and try new foods.

Serving up real food will help you raise little foodies who know what a real meal should look—and taste—like.

9 Probiotic-Rich Foods For Kids

9 Probiotic-Rich Foods For Kids

There’s no shortage of information about the benefits of probiotics and probiotic-rich foods, but what about your kids? Do they need probiotics too?

What Are The Benefits of Probiotics For Kids?

Probiotics are often marketed to parents as a way to prevent colds, the flu, diarrhea and constipation.

Studies show probiotics may also treat health conditions like colic, reflux, allergies, asthma and eczema. In fact, a February 2018 meta-analysis in the journal PLOS One suggests taking probiotics during late pregnancy and while breastfeeding may reduce a baby’s risk for the skin condition.

The buzz about probiotics comes down to one thing: gut health. The gut microbiome is a vast collection of approximately 100 trillion microbes, or microorganisms, that live on and in the body, but most are found in the gastrointestinal tract or simply, the gut.

One class of microbes are bacteria. The gut contains both harmful bacteria that lead to disease and helpful bacteria that strengthen the immune system and help kids stay healthy.

A course of antibiotics or eating a diet high in processed foods, sugar and refined grains can throw off the balance between healthy and harmful bacteria in their gut and leave your kids susceptible to illness.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that although probiotics are likely safe, it’s not clear how effective they are or what the long-term effects may be for kids. What’s more, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements, so if you do give your kids probiotics, you really don’t know what you’re giving them.

It’s always a good idea to check with your pediatrician first, but getting nutrients from food sources, including probiotics, is always better than a supplement.

These 9 probiotic-rich foods (some are dairy-free) are healthy and delicious and will give your kids a dose of gut healthy, immune boosting bacteria.

1. Kefir

Kefir tastes a bit tangy and with a thicker consistency than milk but not quite as thick as yogurt, kefir can be served alone or mixed with fruit for a healthy breakfast smoothie.

Since most brands of kefir are sweetened and high in sugar, read labels carefully. Your best bet will likely be plain, unsweetened kefir which you can add your own fresh fruit to for more fiber and sweetness.

2. Green Peas


Green peas are an excellent source of fiber, protein and vitamins A, C, B6, and K, magnesium and folate.

Surprisingly, they’re also probiotic-rich. In fact, a December 2018 study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology found that a particular strain—leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides—can boost gut health. The study was conducted in mice however, so it’s not clear if the same findings can be replicated in humans.

3. Sourdough bread


Sourdough bread is made with a fermentation process that uses wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria that’s naturally present, making it a good source of probiotics.

Your kids may not immediately take to the taste of sourdough bread so serve a small piece with a pat of grass-fed butter, which has a dose of probiotics too.

4. Yogurt

A March 2018 study in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy found that babies who ate yogurt on a daily basis reduced their risk for allergies and eczema by up to 70 percent. The authors note however, that it’s unclear what type of yogurt and how much is actually beneficial.

Experts I’ve interviewed say most store-bought yogurts don’t contain enough probiotics by the time you purchase them. The nurse practitioner in my children’s pediatrician’s office recommended they try Activia, so that’s what we buy.

5. Fermented Pickles

Most kids love pickles, but most pickles on store shelves won’t cut it.

To get the benefits of probiotics, you’ll want to look for pickles in the refrigerated section and those brands that are labeled “naturally fermented,” like Bubbies.

6. Kimchi

A popular Asian side dish, kimchi is a naturally fermented cabbage that contains probiotics and is rich in vitamins A, C, K, B6, folate and iron.

Since kimchi is a bit spicy, give your kids a small amount and see if they like it.

7. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut, another type of fermented cabbage, is a good source of probiotics as well as fiber, calcium and magnesium, vitamins B6, C and K, folate, iron and potassium.

Most store-brands of sauerkraut don’t contain probiotics however, so look for those that state they’re naturally fermented.

8. Miso

A traditional Japanese condiment that’s made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, miso is one of the probiotic-rich foods. A good way to introduce miso to kids is to offer miso soup since it has a mild flavor and is quite delicious.

9. Coconut milk yogurt

If your kids can’t consume dairy or your family is dairy-free, coconut milk yogurt is one of the best probiotic-rich foods.

Like many types of yogurt however, coconut milk yogurt can be high in sugar so read labels carefully. Or find plain, unsweetened versions and add fresh berries for added fiber and a hint of sweetness.

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 processing 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!