12 Healthy Cheap Food Staples

12 Healthy Cheap Food Staples

We all want to feed our families better, put healthy meals on the table, and pack healthy school lunches and healthy snacks. Yet without a lot of time and an unlimited food budget, we also need it to be easy and affordable. That’s where healthy, cheap food staples come in. 

Relying on a handful of easy, healthy, go-to foods is a great way to round out your meals, stretch your food budget, and ensure you’ll always have healthy meals on hand. Read on for 12 healthy, cheap food staples to stock up on today.

1. CAULIFLOWER

There’s no doubt that filling your cart with fruits and vegetables can run up your food bill. Yet there are some amazing choices that are both healthy and cheap, like cauliflower, which costs about $.44 cents per cup

Cauliflower is a good source of fiber, protein, potassium, folate and vitamins C, K and B6.

It also has a mild but slightly sweet, nutty taste that your kids may grow to love.

Also, try buying different varieties of cauliflower including orange and purple which may be a big hit.

Steam or roast cauliflower, make a cauliflower “rice,” faux mashed potatoes, cauliflower macaroni and cheese, or cauliflower rice balls—yum!

2. OATS

When it comes to healthy foods that make my life easier, oats tops the list.

I always have a large bag of rolled oats on hand because I use them in so many different ways. I use them to make:

  • Oatmeal
  • Overnight oats
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • Breads
  • Muffins
  • Protein bars
  • No-bake energy bites
  • Homemade granola
  • …and plenty of desserts and treats!

Oats are a good source of iron, selenium and manganese, are low in sugar, and can help you get more whole grains and fiber into your kid’s diet.

Oats are naturally gluten-free but because of cross-contamination, look for brands that are labeled accordingly. I like to buy Bob’s Red Mill

3. BEANS

My husband is more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy, but when he’s not home for dinner, I often make plant-based meals and rely on dishes that have beans in them.

Related: 10 Ways To Get More Plant-Based Foods In Your Kid’s Diet

The reason beans are some of the best healthy, cheap food staples is because they’re high in both protein and fiber and many are excellent sources of iron.

Some, like black turtle beans, are also high in calcium: 1/2 cup provides 35 milligrams.

Pinto beans, black beans and navy beans are some of the cheapest types. Although canned beans cost a bit more than dried, either are still very affordable.

Beans also lend themselves to a variety of meals. Add beans to rice and pasta dishes, tacos, incorporate them into soups, stews and chilis, or serve them as an appetizer that your kids can munch on while you’re cooking dinner.

You can even use beans as a replacement for eggs and oil in your favorite baking recipes. Try them with brownie mix—they’re delish!

4. LENTILS

Just like beans, lentils are super-healthy and oh so cheap.

I buy a 27 ounce package and it makes about 16 meals!

Lentils contain folate, calcium, zinc and amino acids and are also an excellent source of protein and fiber which satisfy hunger and can prevent constipation.

Use lentils to make vegetarian chili, soups, stews, and veggie burgers, or incorporate them into a green salad. 

5. CABBAGE

Cabbage is ideal to eat when it’s in-season during the spring and fall and really delicious alongside some corned beef , but you can get it any time of year and pair it with any type of meal.

It’s a good source of fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamins C, K, B6 and folate.

Since it’s not as offensive as some other types of green leafy vegetables, getting your picky eater to try it might not be so tough.

At $.26 cents per cup, it’s one of the best healthy cheap food staples because a little goes a long way: one head of cabbage lasts for days in my house—and yes, my kids eat it.

Simply chop cabbage and sauté it with a bit of olive oil or coconut oil for a delicious and filling side. Or make stuffed cabbage, use raw cabbage leafs for a low-carb, gluten-free “taco” or “wrap.”

6. BROWN RICE

For an average cost of about $.10 cents a serving, brown rice is one of best healthy cheap food staples.
A good source of protein, fiber, selenium, and manganese, serving up brown rice is a great way to get whole grains in your family’s diet.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 50 percent of the grains we eat be made up of whole grains, which have more nutrients and fiber than white, refined grains.

Since all types of rice (organic included), have been found to have high levels of arsenic, rinse rice before cooking, then drain the water and rinse again and at least one more time while cooking. Another good tip is to use as much water as you would when you cook pasta.

The great thing about brown rice is that it doesn’t have to be bland or boring.

Try different herbs and spices, or add fresh lemon, garlic, onion or ginger.

Serve brown rice alone or add it to soups, stews, and bean burgers. Or even serve it for breakfast. Need a recipe? I love this one for a Sweet Brown Rice Breakfast Bowl.

7. TUNA FISH

Fish is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

It’s packed with protein, low in saturated fat, rich in micronutrients, and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support brain health and memory.

Although many types of fresh or frozen fish can be expensive, canned tuna fish is by far one of the most affordable.

It’s important however, to pick the right type of tuna since mercury is a concern.

Although albacore/white tuna is OK for kids to eat, the FDA and EPA recommend you limit it to one serving a week.

Related: What Types of Fish Are Safe for Kids?

Tuna, canned light (including skipjack) on the other hand, have the lowest levels of mercury and are considered the safest.

Tuna fish sandwiches are an easy option for school lunches, but you can also add it to green salads, or make a white bean salad or a crostini.

8. PEANUT BUTTER

As long as they don’t have food allergies, most kids love peanut butter.

Peanut butter makes the list of healthy cheap food staples because it’s packed with protein: two tablespoons has 8 grams—plus filling fiber and healthy fats.

For approximately $.21 cents per serving, it couldn’t be more affordable.

When choosing peanut butter however, it’s important to read labels carefully.

Avoid those made with hydrogenated oils, added sugars including high-fructose corn syrup, and fillers.

Related: How To Pick A Healthy Peanut Butter For Kids

Make peanut butter sandwiches, pair an apple or pear with peanut butter for a healthy snack, or add a tablespoon of peanut butter to a green smoothie.

9. PASTA 

When it comes to healthy cheap food staples, it doesn’t get more cost-effective than pasta.

Of course, whole wheat pasta has whole grains and more fiber than white pasta but when it comes to feeding kids and eating healthy, all food in moderation is the key.

Also, explore other types of pasta like those made with lentils, black beans, chickpeas, quinoa, and brown rice.

10. CARROTS

Carrots are a good source of vitamins A, C, K, B6, folate, potassium and fiber: 1/2 cup has nearly 3 grams

At $.30 cents per cup, carrots are also an affordable way to add nutrition to your meals and snacks.

In addition to orange, look for white, red and purple varieties—I recently purchased a bag of all three together which brought some variety to dinnertime.

Serve carrots raw, roasted, steamed, sautéed, braised, and/or spiralized.

Add carrots to salads, incorporate them into a healthy side dish, or pair them with hummus for a healthy and delicious snack.

You can also add shredded carrots to muffins, pancakes and baked goods.

11. SWEET POTATOES

Sweet potatoes are high in potassium, vitamins A, C and B6 and a great source of fiber: 1/2 cup has more than 3 grams.

At .57 cents per cup, they’re also an affordable way to round out your meals.

Make roasted sweet potatoes or sweet potato fries or swap breakfast toast for roasted cubes of sweet potatoes or a sweet potato hash.

12. DRIED HERBS AND SPICES

I could definitely be more adventurous when it comes to using herbs and spices when I cook but I never know when and how to use them.

As a result, when I do buy fresh varieties—which can be pricey—I end up having to throw out what I don’t use.

Yet herbs and spices can add a ton of flavor to meals and may peak your child’s interest in tying new foods.

Related: 6 Ways To Make Vegetables Healthy and Delicious For Kids

Dried herbs and spices are healthy cheap food staples that are good to have on hand and can cut down on food waste.

Try herbs and spices that can be used in a variety of meals like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, paprika, oregano and parsley.

 

What are some of your favorite healthy, cheap food staples? Let me know in the comments!

 

10 Fun Kid Thanksgiving Food Ideas

10 Fun Kid Thanksgiving Food Ideas

     Whether you’ll be hosting or traveling to a family or friend’s home, there’s no doubt that when it comes to food, Thanksgiving is one of the most predictable holidays. You know there’ll be turkey, stuffing and all the fixings, but that doesn’t mean your kid will eat it. The turkey can be tough or dry, the stuffing can have too much going on, and vegetables—well, you know how that usually turns out. Although I don’t recommend opening a box of macaroni and cheese or making a separate meal for your picky eater, there are fun kid Thanksgiving food ideas they’ll love, even if the only other thing they end up eating are dinner rolls and pumpkin pie.

 

 

 FUN KID THANKSGIVING FOOD IDEAS FOR PICKY EATERS

 The holidays are already stressful but holidays with picky eaters are an entirely different ball game. Having kids who snub vegetables and refuse to eat anything other than pasta with butter for example, can kick your stress level into high gear.

You’ll probably worry what your kids will eat, if they’ll eat enough or if they’ll eat at all.

If they do end up trying something new or different like your mother-in-law’s famous casserole, there’s a chance that they’ll spit it out and declare, “ew, gross!”

To make matters worse, well-meaning family members may try to intervene and encourage your kids to “just take a bite,” and “if you want dessert, you have to eat.” Or worse—they may judge your parenting skills and insinuate it’s your fault that your kids are picky eaters. Aren’t the holidays fun?

 

LOOK FOR FUN KID THANKSGIVING FOOD IDEAS TOGETHER

On Thanksgiving, one of the best ways to encourage your kids to try new foods, especially when a lot of the food is different from what what they’re used to, is to get them involved. Search for fun Thanksgiving recipes online, in cookbooks and on Pinterest, or ask friends for recommendations.

 

 

 FUN KID THANKSGIVING FOOD IDEAS: COOK TOGETHER

Once your kids pick out a new dish they want to try, make it together before Thanksgiving when there’s more time and you’ll have more patience.

When my kids and I cook together, they always want to taste what we’ve made and they’re so proud to show it off when we sit down to eat.

When kids take part in cooking, they learn each step of the process, they feel empowered because they had a hand in making the meal, and they’re more likely to be adventurous eaters.

Of course, we all have our own food preferences so if they don’t like something you’ve made together, it’s still not a lost opportunity. It’s just one more chance to push them out of their comfort zones and try new flavors, tastes and textures.

Cooking with your kids is also a great holiday tradition to share together. If you’re looking for a fun way to teach your kids how to cook while building their confidence and creativity, the Kids Cook Real Food online cooking class is now open for enrollment. For a limited time, you can get over $400 worth of content and lifetime access for only $149.95. Get all the details here.

 FUN KID THANKSGIVING FOOD IDEAS

Your Thanksgiving spread can be a mix of traditional foods and kid-friendly foods which can encourage even the pickiest of eaters to enjoy the holiday. Here are 10 fun kid Thanksgiving food ideas to consider.

 

15 MINUTE CRANBERRY BRIE BITES

The combination of flaky puff pastry, melted brie and sweet cranberries is divine in these 15 Minute Cranberry Brie Bites, which are sure to delight any kid. The best thing? They only take 5 minutes to make but it will look like you spent hours in the kitchen.

When it comes to fun kid Thanksgiving food ideas, the more creative the better. With a variety of vegetables and plenty of crunchy texture and color, this Perfect Turkey Veggie Tray for Thanksgiving is great for everyone to munch on before dinner is served. Pair it with hummus, guacamole or your kid’s favorite dip, and you may be surprised at how many veggies he’ll eat.

EASY TURKEY ROLL UPS

If your kid won’t eat turkey, then transform it into something they will recognize. These Easy Turkey Roll Ups are easy to make and with some spinach and sun dried tomatoes, they’re bursting with flavor.

Sweet potatoes and marshmallows—what’s not to love? This Sweet Potato Casserole With Marshmallow and Pecan Streusel is a popular Thanksgiving dish and one of the best fun kid Thanksgiving food ideas. Even better? It only takes 20 minutes to prepare and can be made 2 days ahead of time—sweet.

These Cream Cheese Pinwheels With Fresh Veggies make for a healthy appetizer for little ones who are more interested in making crafts than sitting down to eat. High in protein and fiber, and bursting with flavor, you can feel good about your kids eating them even if they eat nothing else.

 

High in protein and fiber, these festive Best Deviled Eggs For Thanksgiving are sure to be a win for your kids.

 

BAKED CARROT FRENCH FRIES

Who says you can’t serve fries on Thanksgiving? These Baked Carrot French Fries are healthy, sweet and delicious. Serve with or without a dip, either way they make for a great side dish kids will love.

 

Your kids may not like stuffing, but chances are they’ll love these Apple Sage Stuffin’ Muffins. Savory and sweet, they’re perfect for little hands and only take 10 minutes to pull together.

CHEESY LEFTOVER MASHED POTATO MUFFINS

When it comes to feeding picky eaters, small portions are less overwhelming and intimidating for little ones. That’s why these Cheesy Leftover Mashed Potato Muffins are one of the best fun kid Thanksgiving food ideas. With only 4 ingredients, and only 10 minutes to make, they’re the perfect dish to prepare with your kids.

What kid doesn’t love Rice Krispies Treats? These Thanksgiving Rice Krispie Turkey Treats are super-cute and festive, quick and easy, and the perfect addition to your dessert table.

 

What are some of your fun kid Thanksgiving food ideas? Let me know in the comments!

14 Prebiotic Foods For Kids

14 Prebiotic Foods For Kids

As a bona fide foodie and health nut, I’m constantly on the lookout for new food brands and products. Whether it’s a new healthy snack bar or a gluten-free product, companies are constantly jumping on the latest health craze. In recent years, probiotics have definitely become a major focus for food manufacturers. Yet  prebiotics and prebiotic foods for kids seem to be having their own time in the limelight, showing up in baby formula, fruit and vegetable pouches, cereals, baked goods and yogurt. 

In fact, according to a recent report, the prebiotics market is expected to exceed $7.2 billion by the year 2024. Suffice to say, they’re not going anywhere. 

So today, I’m talking about what prebiotics are, what research says about their potential health benefits and safety. Plus, I have a list of prebiotic foods for kids—many of which your kids probably love to eat.

WHAT ARE PREBIOTICS?

Think of prebiotics as probiotics’ partner in crime: they’re dietary fibers that feed the healthy bacteria in the gut allowing them to grow and flourish.

Prebiotics are natural, fermentable carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the body and are typically found in high-fiber foods.

Interestingly, prebiotics were defined in 1995 but their definition has evolved through the years. If you’re a science geek, you’ll appreciate how prebiotics are defined today:

nondigestible compound that, through its metabolization by microorganisms in the gut, modulates the composition and/or activity of the gut microbiota, thus conferring a beneficial physiologic effect on the host

HEALTH BENEFITS OF PREBIOTICS

Although research is limited, studies suggest prebiotics can have a positive effect on gut health, cardiovascular health, mental illness, cancer and obesity.

In fact, a June 2017 study in the journal Gastroenterology suggests prebiotics can help reduce body fat in children who are overweight or obese by altering the microorganisms in the gut.

ARE PREBIOTICS SAFE FOR KIDS?

Since prebiotics is still an emerging area of research, there’s not much information about whether or not they’re safe.

According to an August 2018 study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, of the 384 randomized controlled trials that were analyzed, most failed to record or report data about adverse effects of either probiotics or prebiotics. As a result, it’s not possible at this time to conclude whether they’re safe or not, according to the authors.

With the lack of evidence, I suggest you talk to your child’s pediatrician first before feeding your kids processed foods that have prebiotics added to them.

PREBIOTIC FOODS FOR KIDS

The good news is that prebiotics are naturally found in a variety of whole foods your kids probably already eat, or can grow to love.

1. Asparagus

Asparagus is one of the best prebiotic foods for kids and it’s usually a green leafy vegetable they like to eat.

Asparagus is an excellent source of fiber and protein, vitamins A, C, and E, folate, potassium, iron, magnesium and zinc.

Steam asparagus, or drizzle olive oil on top and roast it. Add asparagus to stir-fry meals or pasta dishes, or fold it into eggs for breakfast.

2. Onions

Onions can be a tough sell for kids but if you add small amounts to your meals, they may grow to love them.

Slice raw onions thin and add them to salads, tacos and spring rolls. Add cooked onions to omelets, soups, stews and chilis, or a vegetable stir-fry. Roast onions with squash and sweet potatoes or add them to your favorite sheet pan meal.

3. Bananas

Bananas are one of the best prebiotic foods for kids, not to mention they’re sweet and delicious. A great source of potassium and vitamin B6, bananas are also a good source of fiber: 1 small banana has 2.6 grams.

I use bananas in green smoothies and add them to overnight oats, oatmeal, breads, muffins, and no-bake energy bites for my kids.

I usually buy two bunches every week so if some start to over-ripen, I pop them in the freezer to use later for a dairy-free ice cream.

4. Garlic

My kids despise garlic, but I still continue to cook a lot with it. Research shows repeated exposure is the key to getting kids to try and accept new foods, so I’ll keep on trying!

I sauté or roast garlic with vegetables and add garlic to lentil chili. My husband also uses garlic to make pesto sauce in the Vitamix

5. Apples

Sweet, crunchy and delicious, apples are also one of the best prebiotic foods for kids.

With more than 4 grams of fiber in one medium apple, they’re also a great source of vitamin C, and have quercetin, an antioxidant that may improve cognitive function, a March 2017 mice study in the journal Behavioral Brain Research suggests.

6. Dandelion greens

Dandelion greens are a good source of fiber, vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. Serve them raw in a chopped salad, incorporate them into egg, pasta or rice dishes, or sauté them with garlic for a delicious side dish.

7. Leeks

Think of leeks as you would onions, garlic and or any other aromatic. Leeks can be steamed, sautéed, or roasted and are delicious with chicken, in a frittata or quiche, mixed with rice and pureed into soup. My kids love leeks, especially sautéed and paired with catfish.

8. Jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes as they’re often called, aren’t really artichokes at all. They’re tubers that originate from a plant that looks like a sunflower. Nutty and crunchy,  you can roast them, puree them into a soup, or make Jersusalem artichoke chips.

9. Barley

When you think of barley, beef barley soup probably comes to mind, but there are so many other ways to use this prebiotic-rich food. 

Swap oatmeal for barley, make a grain salad or risotto, add it to other creamy soups, or use it in place of rice or quinoa in veggie or bean burgers. 

10. Oats

I’m a big fan of oats because they’re high in fiber, a good source of iron, selenium and manganese, and they’re low in sugar. Oats are also really versatile: use them to make oatmeal, overnight oats, energy balls, cookies, breads, pancakes and muffins.

11. Chocolate and Cocoa

Studies show chocolate and cocoa are great sources of prebiotics. To get the most benefit, stick with a piece of dark chocolate and avoid desserts made with milk chocolate for example, which are filled with added sugars.

12. Wheat bran

Wheat bran, the outer shell of the wheat kernel, is an excellent source of many nutrients including protein and fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, iron and magnesium.

With a sweet and nutty flavor, you can use wheat bran in breads, muffins, and pancakes.

13. Seaweed

Seaweed is definitely not a food you probably feed your kids regularly, but it’s high in antioxidants, a good source of calcium, iodine, folate and magnesium and prebiotics. There are many types of seaweed but the easiest way to feed it to your kids is with miso soup or dried seaweed snacks.

14. Flaxseeds

High in protein and fiber, a good source of magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds are also one of the best prebiotic foods for kids. Add flaxseeds (whole or ground) to oatmeal, overnight oats, granola and smoothies, or sprinkle on top of salads or yogurt for an extra crunch. You can also use flaxseeds to make a flax egg, as a substitute in baking recipes.

How to Eat Pumpkin Seeds + My Favorite Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

How to Eat Pumpkin Seeds + My Favorite Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

     Between pumpkin-spiced lattes and everything else pumpkin-inspired this time of year, pumpkin gets so much attention that pumpkin seeds—a bonafide superfood too—are often overlooked and underutilized. Perhaps it’s because many people don’t know how to eat pumpkin seeds, or how to cook them and incorporate them into their meals. Fortunately, there are so many healthy, delicious ways to eat pumpkin seeds that my family loves—and yours will too. But first, let’s look at the health benefits of pumpkin seeds.

Are pumpkin seeds good for you?

Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, which in Spanish means “little seeds of squash,” are packed with nutrition and one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

Packed with protein

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein— an ounce has nearly 7 grams which gives kids energy and staves off hunger.

Protein also helps to build muscle, carry nutrients through the body, regulate hormones, and strengthen skin and bones. Making sure you include protein at every meal also helps to keep blood sugar steady and prevent weight gain.

Filled with fiber

If your kids are like most and don’t get enough fiber in their diets from fruits and vegetables, serving pumpkin seeds can help fill some of the void.

Whole pumpkin seeds in their shells have about 5 grams of fiber per serving, while shelled pumpkin seeds have about 3 grams per serving. Although the latter has less fiber, pair pumpkin seeds with a high-fiber fruit like an apple or a pear for example, and you’ve got a healthy snack.

High in magnesium and other minerals

Magnesium is an essential mineral that’s responsible for several different biochemical processes in the body including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium also helps to support bone health, and it can help ease anxiety and may also improve sleep.

Pumpkin seeds are also high in iron, which the red blood cells need to transport oxygen throughout the body. They’re also rich in zinc, which supports skin health, eye health, and may help boost your kids’ immunity and cut down on the amount of times they get sick with colds, infections or stomach bugs.

Related: [VIDEO] How to Boost Your Kids’ Immunity

 

May make bedtime easier

When you hear the word tryptophan, you probably think turkey and that post-Thanksgiving dinner slump you get when you eat it. Yet tryptophan is also found in pumpkin seeds.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that converts to serotonin, a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for sleep and a happy mood. So although there’s no guarantee, feeding your kids pumpkin seeds may help them sleep through the night.

High in antioxidants

Pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidants, including carotenoids and vitamin E, which reduce inflammation and help to prevent many types of diseases.

Lower risk for type-2 diabetes and heart disease

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 193,000 kids and teens under age 20 are diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and experts agree, those numbers are on the rise.

Studies suggest along with a healthy diet and exercise, eating pumpkin seeds may prevent type-2 diabetes. In fact, a February 2014 study in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition suggests eating pumpkin seeds can help maintain blood glucose levels.

Another February 2012 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggests pumpkin seed oil may reduce high blood pressure and be protective of the cardiovascular system.

Healthy fats

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of plant-based omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the heart-healthy, brain healthy fats kids need in their diets.

Healthy fats are a vital source of energy for kids and help satisfy their hunger.

They’re also essential for healthy cell membranes, they support the brain and the nervous system, and help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.

Fat is also necessary to make hormones and immune cells and to help regulate inflammation and metabolism.

Related: 5 Foods With Healthy Fats Kids Will Love

How to Eat Pumpkin Seeds

While you can eat pumpkin seeds that you get when you carve a pumpkin, making them edible is a process. First, you’ll have to scoop the seeds out of the pumpkin, clean and dry them, and then bake them for 30 minutes. If you want to add cinnamon or other spices, you’ll have to bake them for another 20 minutes.

I don’t know about you but who has time for that?

A quicker and easier way is to buy plain, unsalted pumpkin seeds at the grocery store. You can serve them alone or add them to any type of meal, but either way, there are so healthy and delicious ways to eat them.

Eat pumpkin seeds as a snack

The great thing about pumpkin seeds for kids is that they’re portable, but they don’t have to be refrigerated or kept cool, and they’re allergy-safe for school.

You can toss plain pumpkin seeds with raisins, roast them with cinnamon and sugar (see my favorite pumpkin seeds recipe below!) or your kid’s favorite spices.

Or you can make a pumpkin seed salsa for a healthy and delicious snack.

Add pumpkin seeds to oatmeal

Incorporate pumpkin seeds into oatmeal, overnight oats and baked oatmeal for a quick and easy breakfast.

Top muffins and breads with pumpkin seeds

There’s nothing better than fresh-from-the-oven muffins and breads, especially those made with pumpkin, apples or pears. Mix some pumpkin seeds in the batter or sprinkle them on top and you have a little extra nutrition and texture too.

Use pumpkin seeds in granola

I love making my own homemade granola because I can control the ingredients and the amount of sugar, plus it’s super easy to make a large batch that can last you awhile.

You can use pumpkin seeds in this recipe from Cookie and Kate which I made recently—it was gone in a few days!

Make homemade trail mix with pumpkin seeds

Trail mix can be a healthy snack option, but most types on store shelves are packed with salty nuts and seeds, load of dried fruit, “yogurt-” covered raisins, chocolate chips and M&Ms.

Instead, make your own trail mix with pumpkin seeds—it’s quick and easy and the best part is that you get to control the ingredients and the portion size.

Make pumpkin seed butter

If you’re looking for an allergy-safe option for school lunches, try making pumpkin seed butter, which is simple to whip up in your blender or Vitamix.

You can also add pumpkin seed butter to smoothies, swirl it into yogurt, drizzle it on top of fruit, or serve it as a fruit dip.

Need a recipe? Try Momables’ Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed Butter.

Add pumpkin seeds to salads, soups, and side dishes

Pumpkin seeds can be tossed into about any type of meal and side dish. Think: vegetable stir-fry, roasted vegetables, rice and grain dishes, tacos, chilis, soups and salads.

Prepare a pesto

Swap pine nuts for pumpkin seeds in your favorite pesto recipe for a healthy and delicious addition to steak, fish or chicken or spread on your favorite toasted baguette.

Best Pumpkin Seeds To Buy

If you want to roast shelled pumpkin seeds but don’t have the time, there are some great healthy, store-bought options.

Both brands are non-GMO, gluten-free and free of dairy, egg, soy, peanut and tree nuts, which is important if you have kids with food allergies like I do

Go Raw Organic Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds pumpkin seeds are sprouted which makes them easy to digest and boosts their nutritional value.

SuperSeedz brand pumpkin seeds are roasted with only natural ingredients like dark chocolate, cinnamon (my kids’ favorite) and cayenne pepper. They also come in 1 ounce and 5 ounce snack size pouches.

My Favorite Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

My daughter loves roasted cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds and although I’ve purchased them in the past, they can get pricey, so recently I made them for her.

I used this recipe for Cinnamon Toast Pumpkin Seeds but swapped out the white sugar for coconut sugar (I like Madhava).

Does your family eat pumpkin seeds? What’s your favorite way to serve them up? Let me know in the comments.

10 Foods High In Probiotics For Kids

10 Foods High In Probiotics For Kids

In recent years, it seems that everything you read about when it comes to health is about gut health, eating foods high in probiotics and taking probiotic supplements.

In our family, I do my best to get probiotics into my kids especially this time of year when colds and fevers are almost inevitable. In the last few months, we’ve also been working with a naturopath to help my older daughter who has food allergies boost her gut health and lower her immune response with a protocol that includes vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc and probiotics.

My kids also eat (and enjoy!) foods high in probiotics like fermented vegetables— no matter how strange they may seem. Of course, there are other healthy, delicious and convenient options that you can start to incorporate into your kid’s diet.

But first, let’s take a look at why your kids need healthy gut bacteria, what can throw it off balance, and how to boost their gut health.

Let’s get started.

Why healthy gut bacteria is important for kids

Healthy gut bacteria starts with the microbiome, which is a vast collection of 100 trillion microbes or microorganisms that actually live in and on the body, but most are found in the gastrointestinal tract.

Bacteria are one type of microbes and although we do everything we can to prevent our kids from coming into contact with bad bacteria that can cause colds and infections for example, there are also healthy bacteria that our bodies need to stay healthy.

Although researchers continue to study the benefits of probiotics and figure out what all the different types are good for, there is a lot we know now about the importance of healthy gut bacteria for kids.

A strong immune system

Kids are like little petri dishes for germs, especially when they’re in daycare and school. They all touch the same surfaces, share the same toys and put everything in their mouths. So if you have young kids, you know how often they get sick. Kids under the age of 6 in particular, get 8 to 10 colds a year!

Perhaps one of the strongest areas of research that has looked at the benefits of probiotics is immunity. In fact, a June 2018 study in the journal Synthetic and Systems Biotechnology, which was conducted in adults, showed probiotics are safe and effective remedy for colds and flu-like respiratory infections.

Better mood and behavior

The gut is often called the second brain because of the strong pathways that are along the gut-brain axis. In fact, the enteric nervous system, which directs the function of the GI system, has 30 types of neurotransmitters and 100 million neurons.

So although we often think the brain is entirely responsible for mental health, mood and behavior, experts say the gut has a lot to do with it too. While your kid will still cry and have meltdowns, optimizing healthy gut bacteria with foods high in probiotics may boost his mood and improve his behavior.

Improved sleep

No parent is immune to bedtime battles especially with young kids, but research suggests probiotics may improve sleep. That’s because a whopping 90 percent of serotonin, the building block for melatonin, the “sleep hormone” is located in the gut.  What’s more, certain bacteria in the gut are important for the production of serotonin, a 2015 study out of Caltech found.

Cures constipation

A lack of fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains or dehydration is often to blame for kids’ constipation. But some kids have “functional constipation,” which can happen when they avoid going to the bathroom because they fear pooping will be painful. In those kids, an imbalance in healthy gut bacteria may be the cause and probiotics may help, according to a February 2019 review in the journal Frontiers in Medicine.

Eases colic and reflux

If you have a baby with colic or reflux, you know how tiring and stressful it can be but strengthening their gut health may help.

A March 2014 study in JAMA Pediatrics found when probiotics were given to infants during the first three months after birth they cried less and had less reflux.

Another 2018 study found in breastfed infants, probiotics can reduce fussiness and crying.

Improves allergies and eczema

Studies suggest probiotics may help with allergenic conditions.

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 eczema.  Another study out of Vanderbilt University suggests probiotics can improve symptoms of seasonal allergies, but more research is needed to make recommendations, the authors noted.

Can probiotics help kids with stomach viruses?

Research suggests that probiotics can help ease diarrhea after a round of antibiotics.

Yet in recent years, giving probiotics to kids to help ease diarrhea and vomiting for any reason has become increasingly common but new research shows it’s not effective. 

According to a November 2018 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, a common type of probiotic called Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, or LGG, which is sold over the counter as Culturelle, had no effect on kids’ symptoms. “Parents are better off saving their money and using it to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables for their children,” the study authors stated.

Are probiotics for kids safe?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a clinical report in 2010 which states that products with probiotics seem to be safe for infants and children but the long-term effects are unknown and more research is needed.

They also say there are safety concerns in children who have compromised immune systems, are chronically debilitated or seriously ill and have indwelling medical devices like catheters or endotracheal tubes.

It’s also important to note that the FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements as rigorously as they do for prescription and over-the-counter medications.

What can disrupt healthy gut bacteria?

It’s ideal to have good and bad bacteria in the right balance in the gut, but there are so many factors that can throw it off.

 

Antibiotics

If your kid has a bacterial infection, antibiotics are necessary, but they can also wipe out all the healthy gut bacteria which is why taking a probiotic can help restore balance.

 

Processed foods 

Experts say eating processed foods and those high with sugar over the long term can lead to intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut occurs when the tight junctions in the large intestine open and allow undigested food particles and pathogens in, which in turn elicits an immune response.

Leaky gut syndrome has been linked to various conditions including allergies, asthma, fatigue, autoimmune diseases, migraines and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

If your kids eat a lot of foods that are in a bag, box, or package, chances are they’re  also missing out on key vitamins and minerals that keep their guts and immune systems strong and keep them healthy.

 

Lack of sleep

Researchers are also looking at how sleep may affect gut health. In fact, an April 2019 study in the journal SLEEP suggest better sleep quality and less sleepiness are significantly associated with a richer and more diverse gut bacteria.

 

Toxic chemicals

In September 2017, the FDA banned triclosan in anti-bacterial hand soaps, but companies still add the pesticide to some dish soaps, personal care products and Colgate Total toothpaste.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says triclosan may cause changes in the hormone system, and harm reproduction and development, and studies show it may also alter healthy gut bacteria.

In fact, according to a May 2018 study in the journal Science Translational Medicine, mice who were fed a diet laced with triclosan for 3 weeks had significantly lower levels of a species of bacteria that has been shown to be anti-inflammatory. 

 

Lack of physical activity

Exercise is important for kids’ overall growth and development and of course, it can prevent childhood obesity but studies suggest a lack of physical activity can affect gut health, regardless of what they eat.

According to an April 2018 study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, (which was conducted in adults) regular exercise increases short-chain fatty acids which promote gut health.

How to give kids healthy gut bacteria

Fortunately, there are several ways to improve your kid’s gut health, both with diet and healthy habits.

Eat the rainbow

A whole foods diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables of all colors gives your kid the nutrition she needs for a strong immune system. These foods also contain prebiotics, or non-digestible food ingredients, that work with probiotics, the live microorganisms found in the gut, to grow and work to boost your child’s immunity.

Add fermented foods

Kefir tastes too tangy for me but my kids love it and that’s a good thing. The probiotics found in kefir and other foods like yogurt, kimchi, and naturally fermented vegetables, including sauerkraut and pickles can help improve gut health.

Consider taking probiotics

As previously stated, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) hasn’t recommended regular use of probiotics in children because there’s a lack of evidence for their efficacy. Of course like any supplement, if you want to give your kid probiotics, check with his pediatrician first.

Get moving

Getting your kids outside is always ideal but during the dog days of winter or on snow days when you can’t get out, put on music and have a dance party or enjoy a game of Twister.

Let kids play in the dirt

Encourage your kids to get outside and get dirty—whether it’s digging up dirt, playing with the dog, or planting a garden together to expose them to healthy gut bacteria.

10 Foods High In Probiotics For Kids

Your kid’s diet is one of the best ways to promote a healthy gut and fortunately, there are many foods high in probiotics.

1. Kefir

Kefir has a healthy dose of probiotics but read labels and you’ll discover most brands of kefir are high in sugar.

If you’re going to feed your kids fruit-flavored kefir, it’s probably OK as long as they have a low-sugar diet but keep portion sizes in mind. A better option however, is plain kefir which you can add fresh or frozen fruit to and blend into a smoothie.

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.

If you’re looking for a gluten-free option, I recommend Simple Kneads.

4. Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the best foods high in probiotics. According to a March 2018 study in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 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.

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.

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 alongside their favorite foods and they may actually try 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 best foods high in probiotics. A good way to introduce miso to kids is to offer miso soup since it has a mild flavor and it’s delicious.

9. Coconut milk yogurt

If your kids can’t consume dairy or your family is dairy-free, coconut milk yogurt is a great option.

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. 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 it in place of meat on taco night.

Don’t forget prebiotic foods

 

It’s also a good idea to offer your kids foods rich in prebiotics, which are non-digestible food ingredients that work with probiotics to boost your child’s immunity.

Prebiotic rich foods include onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, barley, oats, wheat bran, apples, Jerusalem artichokes, flaxseeds, cocoa, seaweed.

 

Do you feed your kids foods high in probiotics? Which ones do they like the best? Let me know in the comments.

How to Pick a Healthy Peanut Butter For Kids + Best Brands

How to Pick a Healthy Peanut Butter For Kids + Best Brands

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links and I earn from qualifying purchases. I recommend these products either because I use them or because companies that make them are trustworthy and useful.


Peanut butter has been a quintessential food for generations of kids in the U.S. who love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or after-school snacks like crackers with peanut butter. Although it can be a healthy, delicious part of your kid’s diet, when it comes to choosing a healthy peanut butter, not all are created equal.


Here, learn the health benefits of peanut butter, when to introduce peanut butter to babies, and how to choose a healthy peanut butter, plus some of my favorite brands.

Health Benefits of Peanut Butter

What many people don’t realize is that although “nut” is in their name, and they look and taste similar to other nuts, peanuts are actually legumes, just like lentils and edamame.

Regardless of how you think of them, peanuts and peanut butter have a ton of health benefits.

For starters, they’re packed with protein. With 8 grams of protein in two tablespoons, peanut butter promotes feelings of satiety, satisfies your kid’s hunger and helps to balance blood sugar levels.

Peanut butter also has a decent amount of fiber—nearly 2 grams per 2 tablespoons—which also helps to fend off hunger and can prevent constipation. 

Related: 10 Foods That Relieve Kids’ Constipation

It’s also rich in several vitamins and minerals including magnesium (the calming mineral), potassium, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that protects cells from the damage of free radicals.

Although peanut butter does contain saturated fat, it’s also made up mostly of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It’s also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fats like those found in fish.

Related: 5 Foods With Healthy Fats Kids Will Love

When Can Babies Eat Peanut Butter?

A lot has changed in a few short years and instead of telling parents to avoid peanut butter, experts now say it’s not only safe, but a good idea to introduce it to babies early on.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend parents with babies who don’t have eczema or food allergies “freely” introduce peanut butter (not nuts since they’re a choking hazard) between 4 and 6 months of age.

I recommend however, that before introducing peanut butter and other nut butters to your baby, you read all of the guidelines here and talk to your pediatrician.

Related: How To Safely Introduce Nuts To Your Baby

Tips For How To Pick A Healthy Peanut Butter

When you’re looking for a healthy peanut butter, it’s important to read labels carefully and know what ingredients to look for and what to avoid.

Choose brands with one or two ingredients

The peanut butter you choose should only contain peanuts (and list it as the first ingredient), and salt, depending on your preference.

Scan labels for oils, sugars and additives

Avoid peanut butter brands that contain hydrogenated oils, palm oils, added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup and fillers.

Also, don’t be fooled by the tubs of peanut butter that are made in-house at the grocery store because although they’re marketed as “natural,” I’ve found these brands to have added oils and sugars as well.

“Reduced-fat” or “low-fat” doesn’t mean healthy

You might think reduced-fat or low-fat peanut butters are a good option, but these brands usually contain added sugars. The full-fat version is fine, just be mindful of portion sizes.    

Take stock of the sodium

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90 percent of kids get too much sodium in their diets every day. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which about 3.5 percent of kids already have, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and vision loss, among other health conditions. So even if your kids don’t have high blood pressure now, if they continue to eat too much sodium, there’s  a good chance they will in the future.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend the following limits for daily sodium intake:

  • Ages 1-3: 1,500 mg
  • Ages 4-8: 1,900 mg
  • Ages 9-13: 2,200 mg
  • Ages 14+: 2,300 mg

When looking for a healthy peanut butter, take into consideration your child’s overall diet and how much sodium they’re already consuming, and consider purchasing a brand that’s low in sodium or sodium-free.

 

 

 

Healthy Peanut Butter For Kids: My Favorite Brands

 

Here are some of my favorite brands of peanut butter but a word of caution: always read labels carefully because some varieties of the same brand contain palm oil and other additives, for example.

Santa Cruz

Stonewall Kitchen

Smucker’s Natural Creamy

MaraNatha Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

Teddie All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter

 


What’s your favorite healthy peanut butter? Let me know in the comments!

15 Healthy Blueberry Recipes Your Kids Will Love  Blueberries are superfoods for kids and with these healthy blueberry recipes, you'll find new ways to serve them.

15 Healthy Blueberry Recipes Your Kids Will Love

Blueberries are superfoods for kids and with these healthy blueberry recipes, you'll find new ways to serve them.

“I love blueberries!,” my older daughter exclaimed.“Blueberries are delicious!,” she continued.

That was last summer when my daughters and I were visiting their grandparents and we decided to go blueberry picking.

As a toddler, she used to eat blueberries by the handful and would even come close to finishing off half of a pint.

But as she got older, bananas, mango, watermelon and cantaloupe became her new favorite fruits and getting her to eat one single blueberry was impossible.

Maybe it was the experience of berry picking (likely) or that her Italian grandmother, who can get her to eat just about anything, was there (even more likely).

Whatever it was, I’ll take it because blueberries are one of the best superfoods for kids.

Health Benefits of Blueberries

Not only are blueberries sweet and delicious, but they’re packed with nutrition.

Blueberries are a good source of fiber—1/2 cup has more than 2 grams—as well as vitamins C and K and manganese, an essential nutrient.

Blueberries are also high in antioxidants, including anthocyanin, a flavonoid which gives them their rich hue.

Anthocyanin is also known to support cognitive and motor function, improve visual and neurological health, and prevent disease.

In fact, a February 2019 study in the Journals of Gerontology conducted in adults found eating about a cup of blueberries a day can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease by 20 percent.

Another reason blueberries are healthy is that they consist of nearly 85 percent water to help satisfy your kid’s hunger and prevent constipation.

Related: 10 Foods That Relieve Kids’ Constipation

Since blueberries contain high levels of pesticide residue however, consider purchasing organic blueberries, fresh or frozen.

Sweet, succulent and delicious in pancakes, muffins, oatmeal, yogurt and desserts, there are also a ton of unique ways to incorporate them into other meals too.

Healthy Blueberry Recipes Your Kids Will Love

Here are 15 healthy blueberry recipes to try.

Breakfast

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

Blueberry Bliss Breakfast Bars

Magical Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam

Avocado Blueberry Baby Smoothie

Lunch and Dinner

Cranberry Blueberry Salad With Blueberry Balsamic Dressing

Blueberry Chicken Salad Wraps

Wild Rice Salad with Corn, Blueberries and Almonds

Blueberry Basil Chopped Veggie Salad

Vegetable Couscous With Wild Blueberries

Desserts and Snacks

Blueberry Cheesecake Bites

Blueberry Fruit Dip

Blueberry Muffin Energy Balls

Frozen Blueberry Yogurt Bites

2 Ingredient Vegan Blueberry Ice Cream

Wild Blueberry and Almond Butter Yogurt Popsicles

9 Cheap Healthy Foods Under $2

9 Cheap Healthy Foods Under $2

When it comes to my family’s budget, one of our largest line items is food. Each week, I spend anywhere between $150 and $250 dollars on groceries. Although none of it goes to waste—my kids are good eaters—it drives me crazy to spend so much to eat healthy.

Although I find ways to lower our grocery bill such as by buying foods in bulk, eating less meat and more plant-based meals, and shopping sales, it seems that whole, fresh foods are usually pricier than foods in a box, can or package. Aside for a few select items, these foods are highly processed, high in sodium, and low in nutrition.

Still, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to find cheap healthy foods that are nutritious and won’t put a huge dent in your grocery bill.

Prices will vary depending on where you live and if you purchase organic, for example, but here is a solid list of 10 cheap healthy foods to add to your shopping list.

1. Frozen spinach

I prefer fresh vegetables over frozen because I think you get more bang for your buck, but frozen vegetables like spinach, can also be a good way to shave money off your grocery bill.

Frozen vegetables may actually be healthier than fresh varieties since they’re picked at their peak freshness and flash frozen.

In fact, a June 2017 study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found in some cases frozen produce is more nutritious than fresh that’s been stored in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Spinach is packed with nutrition and a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, E, B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

Spinach is also a good source of lutein, a carotenoid, which research suggests may improve brain health.

In fact, two studies from Abbott and the University of Illinois found children who had higher levels of lutein performed better when they were faced with tough cognitive tasks and they had higher scores on standardized tests.

Average cost: $.28 cents per serving

2. Pureed pumpkin

With 22 vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, and E, pureed, canned pumpkin is one of the best cheap healthy foods.

Pumpkin is also rich in lutein and beta-carotene, an antioxidant and plant pigment that gives the fruit its bright orange color.

You can add pureed pumpkin to waffles, pancakes, muffins and breads or eat it straight out of the can like my daughter does, but you’ll probably want to add some cinnamon and maybe a bit of honey. Pureed pumpkin also make a great first food for baby.

Average cost: $.52 cents per serving

Related: 6 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

3. Beans

Beans are high in both protein and fiber and an excellent source of iron.

Canned beans cost more than dried beans, but either one is still very affordable.

Add beans to rice and pasta dishes, incorporate them into soups, stews and chilis or serve them as an appetizer that your kids can munch on while you’re cooking dinner.

Average cost: $.29 cents a serving (canned); $.11 cents a serving (dried)

4. Brown rice

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 50 percent of the grains we eat be made up of whole grains, which have more nutrients and fiber than white, refined grains.

Brown rice is a great whole grain option because it’s a good source of protein, fiber, selenium, and manganese.

Since all types of rice (organic included), have been found to have high levels of arsenic, rinse rice before cooking, then drain the water and rinse again and at least one more time while cooking. Another good tip is to use as much water as you would when you cook pasta. 

Average cost: $.10 cents a serving

5. Tuna fish

Fish is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids. It’s packed with protein, low in saturated fat, rich in micronutrients, and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support brain health and memory.

Although many types of fish can be expensive, canned tuna fish is by far one of the most affordable.

It’s important however, to pick the right type of tuna since mercury is a concern.

Although albacore/white tuna is OK for kids to eat, the FDA and EPA recommend you limit it to one serving a week.

Tuna, canned light (including skipjack) on the other hand, have the lowest levels of mercury and are considered the safest.

Average cost: $1.30 cents per serving

Related: What Types of Fish Are Safe for Kids?

6. Peanut butter

The quintessential kid-friendly food, peanut butter is packed with protein: two tablespoons has 8 grams—plus filling fiber and healthy fats.

When choosing peanut butter however, it’s important to read labels carefully. Many brands are made with hydrogenated oils, added sugars including high-fructose corn syrup and fillers.

Choose brands that are made with peanuts (and list it as the first ingredient) and salt, depending on your preference.

Average cost: $.21 cents per serving

7. Edamame

An excellent source of protein, fiber, iron and magnesium, edamame (soybeans) are also high in calcium.

Edamame is quick and easy to prepare and lend themselves to almost any meal and can be served as a snack.

You can purchase edamame fresh or frozen, but look for those that are already shelled to save time. 

Average cost: $.83 cents per serving

8. Baby carrots

Carrots are one of the best cheap healthy foods thanks to vitamins A, C, K, B6, folate, iron, potassium and fiber: 1/2 cup has nearly 3 grams

Add carrots to salads, roast them as a healthy side dish, or pair them with hummus.

Average cost: $.28 cents per serving

9. Canned tomatoes

Tomatoes are a good source of fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, and choline.

Tomatoes also contain lycopene, a type of carotenoid that protects the eyes from damage and keeps them healthy.

A can of whole, diced, or crushed tomatoes is always a good thing to have on hand for quick and easy dinners. Use tomatoes to make a quick pasta sauce, or add them to chili or soups.

Average cost: $.28 cents per serving

Related: 8 Supermarket Shortcut Foods To Make Healthy Eating Easy

25 Healthy Avocado Recipes for Kids

25 Healthy Avocado Recipes for Kids

Along with strawberries and cherries, avocado (it’ also a fruit!), is one of the healthiest and most delicious foods you can serve your kids.

Guacamole, avocado toast or added to green smoothies are some tried and true ways to serve them up.

But there are so many healthy avocado recipes that the options are endless.

My kids are big fans of avocado—whether it’s in a salad, mixed with sweet corn, tomato and red onion, and of course served with tortilla chips.

Here, learn a bit why avocados are healthy for kids, and get 20 healthy avocado recipes to try.

Avocados are a superfood for kids


Tons of vitamins and minerals

With 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate and potassium, your kids will get a ton of nutrition without a lot of calories.

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.

Eating avocado alongside nutrient-dense vegetables helps to improve the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, K and E.

 


Healthy fats

 

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

 

The polyunsaturated fats found in avocado are also vital for brain growth and development during pregnancy, infancy and childhood.

 

  

 

Filling fiber

 

Avocado is a great source of fiber, which helps to satisfy kids’ hunger, help them feel fuller longer, prevent weight gain and cure constipation.

 


Related: How Much Fiber Do Kids Need?
 

 

 

 

25 Healthy Avocado Recipes for Kids

 

Mashed, blended, scooped or cut up into cubes, there are so many ways to serve avocado. 

 

Avocado makes a healthy first food for baby or as a substitute for mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup, or for butter in baked goods.

 

Here are some healthy and delicious ways to serve avocado.

 

 

Breakfast

 

 1. Butternut Squash Avocado Muffins

 

2. Tropical Avocado Breakfast Parfait

 

3. Avocado Toast

 

4. Avocado Pineapple Smoothie Bowl

 

5. Bacon and Eggs in a Mason Jar Topped with Avocado, Tomato and Basil

 


Lunch

 

6. California Grilled Chicken Avocado and Mango Salad

 

7. Chilled Avocado Soup

 

8. Avocado and Cheese Toasties

 

9. Avocado Egg Salad

 

10. Avocado and Cheese Roll-Ups

 


Dinner

 

11. Summer Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad with Creamy Buttermilk-Dijon Dressing

 

12. Avocado Chicken Enchiladas

 

13. Avocado Cilantro Lime Rice

 

14. Tortilla Soup

 

15. Summer Goodness Millet Salad

 

16. Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad

 

17. Avocado Pasta

 


Snacks and Desserts

 

 

18. The Easiest 4-Ingredient Guacamole

 

19. Avocado Fries With Lime Dipping Sauce

 

20. Avocado Chocolate Mousse

 

21. Vegan Brownies

 

22. Mint Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream

 

23. Creamy Avocado Lime Parfaits

 

24. Coconut Avocado Popsicles

 

25. Chocolate Avocado Pudding Pops

 

What are your favorite avocado recipes? Let me know in the comments!

 

15 Best and Worst Summer Foods For Kids

15 Best and Worst Summer Foods For Kids

School is almost out and with summer right around the corner, there will be plenty of time to enjoy backyard barbecues, lazy days at the pool, trips to the amusement park and family getaways.  

Of course, of all the places you’ll go, there will also be plenty of healthy, delicious superfoods and some foods that are high in sugar, unhealthy saturated fats and artificial ingredients. 

Here are 15 summer foods that can be served up regularly along with those that are better in moderation, or avoided altogether. 

Best Summer Foods 

1. Watermelon

With its juicy, refreshing and subtle sweetness, watermelon is a kid favorite and one of the best summer foods. 

As its name implies, 90 percent of watermelon is water, which is a great food to keep kids hydrated on hot, summer days and prevent constipation.

It’s also a good source of vitamin C, iron, calcium and lycopene, a carotenoid or antioxidant. Studies show lycopene may reduce exercise-induced asthma and lower the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer. 

2. Zucchini and Squash

Zucchini and yellow squash are rich in fiber, potassium, vitamins A, C, and E, B vitamins and magnesium, the “calming mineral.”

Squash is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids or plant pigments found in the eyes that can improve memory and processing speed, one study found.

3. Cherries


Cherries are a nutritional powerhouse and one of the best summer for kids.

Cherries are an excellent source of potassium, a mineral that helps to regulate fluid levels in the body and counteracts the effects of sodium—a good thing if your kids are filling up on salty fare this summer.

They also contain quercetin, a plant pigment and an antioxidant that helps balance blood pressure. 

Since cherries are also a natural source of melatonin, the “sleep hormone,” they can help kids have an easier time falling asleep, which can be challenging during the summer months when the sun sets later and kids are often wound up from the busy days.

Read: 6 Reasons Cherries Are Healthy for Kids + Recipes

4. Swiss Chard


All green leafy vegetables are superfoods for kids, but Swiss chard, which is in season during the summer, has a mild taste, making it more likely that your child will eat it.

Swiss chard is high in vitamins A,C, E, and K, B6 and folate, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. 

5. Kiwi fruit


Kiwi fruit is an excellent source of fiber—a 1/2 cup has 3 grams—and a good source of vitamins C, E, and K, and potassium. Sweet and delicious, it also makes for a great first food for baby.

Read: How To Make Baby Food—Fast


6. Shrimp


Shrimp is one of best summer foods for kids.

It’s an excellent source of protein— a 3-ounce serving of shrimp contains a whopping 18 grams. It’s also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron,  vitamin B12 and selenium.

Serve shrimp cocktail as an appetizer or grill it for dinner, shrimp is a quick, easy and versatile.

7. Corn on the cob

It’s not summer without corn on the cob, and fortunately, it’s a kid-favorite and can be healthy without tons of butter and salt.

One ear of corn has nearly 2 grams of fiber and protein and is a good source of folate, vitamins A, B6 and C, magnesium, thiamin, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Boil or grill corn on the cob and if you’re going to add butter, stick with grass-fed butter because it contains gut-friendly probiotics.

 

8. Strawberries


Strawberries are high in fiber, rich in antioxidants and a good source of vitamin C, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Strawberries can also satisfy a sweet tooth and make for a healthy, delicious swap for a high-sugar dessert.

Read: 5 Reasons Strawberries Are Healthy For Kids

Worst Summer Foods


1. Fried dough


Whether it’s an amusement park, a carnival or fair, chances are, you’ll be able to get fried dough, zeppole (my favorite), or funnel cake.

Flour, sugar and deep fried: what’s not to love?

But fried foods contain trans fat, which raises both LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers  HDL (good) cholesterol and is linked to an increased risk for heart disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes, a condition that’s on the rise in kids.

Sure, a plate full of funnel cake might not sound like a big deal, but let your kid eat the whole thing and it can net more than 700 calories.

Also, take into account other foods that may have trans fat your kids might be eating throughout the summer: doughnuts, French fries, bakery goods, pizza, chips, cookies and crackers.

2. Hot dogs

 

Hot dogs at a picnic or summer party are synonymous with childhood, but hot dogs are hands down one of the worst summer foods for kids.

Hot dogs are processed, contain nitrates and are high in saturated fat.

Take a look at how hot dogs are really made, and you’ll probably swear them off forever.

Even worse? A corn dog, which is high in saturated fat and sodium.

 

3. Macaroni salad

 

A staple at summer barbecues, macaroni salad is creamy and delicious thanks to ingredients like mayonnaise, sugar and cheese.

Yet with 300 calories per serving, along with 19 grams of fat, 8 grams of sugar and nearly 800 milligrams of sodium, it’s one summer side dish that’s best to avoid.


4. Popsicles

 

Fruit popsicles are a summertime kid-favorite but many store-bought brands are made with high-fructose corn syrup, artificial food dyes and are high in sugar.

Take the Popsicle brand fruit pops which are made with real fruit: 34 grams of sugar, 31 of which are added sugars!

When buying popsicles, read labels carefully. Even better? Make your own. Here are some great recipes from Super Healthy Kids.


5. Cole slaw


Sure, cabbage is a healthy, green leafy vegetable but smother it in mayonnaise and you’ve got a calorie-dense, fat-laden side dish.

A half cup of cole slaw has 230 calories, 23 grams of fat, and 6 grams of sugar. 

If you still want to serve it, cut back on the amount of mayo, nix the sugar or swap in Greek yogurt. Or serve up grilled vegetables or a green salad instead.


6. Snow cones

A favorite along the boardwalk and at carnivals, snow cones are not only made with high-fructose corn syrup and are high in sugar (25 grams per serving), but they contain artificial food dyes, sweeteners and preservatives, and ingredients like propylene glycol, the same toxic chemical used in anti-freeze.

7. Cotton candy

The quintessential carnival fare, cotton candy is melt-in-your-mouth goodness but it is perhaps one of the worst summer foods you can feed your kids.

Loaded with sugar— 56 grams of sugar per serving—and artificial flavors and food dyes, it’s one food to avoid, or at the very least share among the family.

6 Reasons Cherries Are Healthy For Kids + Recipes!

6 Reasons Cherries Are Healthy For Kids + Recipes!

Cherries are one of the most healthy and delicious fruits during the spring and summer months and a favorite in U.S. households: people consume more than 2 pounds of cherries each year.

Whether you add them to a lunch box, serve them as a snack or dish them up as an after-dinner treat, chances are, they’ll be a hit with your kids.

Not only do kids love to eat bite-sized foods, but they also get to be in control and feel empowered to choose how much they want to eat, which may encourage them to make healthy choices at other times of the day too.

It goes without saying however, that if you have little ones, be sure to pit the cherries to prevent choking. Since they have a tough texture, it may also be a good idea to puree them if you’re serving them to an infant.

Read on to discover 5 reasons why cherries are healthy for kids, plus some healthy and delicious recipes.

1. Rich in antioxidants

Cherries are high in polyphenols and vitamin C, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

Vitamin C in particular, is important for skin, bones and connective tissue, promotes healing, helps the body to absorb iron and helps in the formation of neurotransmitters, or the body’s chemical messengers.

2. Supports brain health

Cherries are also rich in anthocyanin, an antioxidant that provides their rich red pigment.

Anthocyanin is also known to support cognitive and motor function and improve visual and neurological health.

Studies in mice suggest consuming cherries also supports brain health, improves memory, and prevents Alzheimer’s disease.

3. High in fiber

Since most kids don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, they’re falling short on fiber which is necessary to satiate hunger, keep blood sugar levels steady and prevent constipation.

Studies also show eating plenty of fiber lowers the risk for heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

In fact, a January 2019 review in The Lancet found compared to people who ate less fiber, those who ate more fiber had a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, colon cancer and a risk of dying early from any cause, by 15 to 30 percent.

With more than 3 grams of fiber in one cup, cherries will help kids get the fiber they need.

4. May prevent type-2 diabetes

Cherries have a low glycemic load so they don’t spike blood sugar and insulin levels, which may prevent type-2 diabetes, a condition that’s on the rise among kids

5. Heart-healthy

Although the research is still unclear, some studies suggest drinking tart cherry juice or consuming cherries may lower levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure—all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

In fact, a small June 2019 study published in the Journal of Functional Foods found consuming the juice of Montmorency cherries reduced insulin levels and blood pressure.

Although heart disease isn’t something to be concerned about when your child is young, what they eat today can set the stage for their diet—and their health—well into the future. 

6. May make bedtime easier

If you have little ones, bedtime is one of the most dreaded times of the day to begin with.

But older children may get less sleep than they need because of electronics use, evening activities, homework, and a lack of sleep rules such as a sticking with a consistent bedtime, for example. 

Instead of turning to a melatonin supplement, which experts say is a concern for kids, eating a handful of cherries may help.

In fact, a December 2012 study in the European Journal of Nutrition suggests consuming tart cherry juice can improve the duration and quality of sleep.

That’s because cherries are the only natural source of melatonin, Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist and best-selling author said in this article.

Melatonin, known as the sleep hormone, regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycles.

Healthy Cherry Recipes

Here are some of my favorite healthy cherry recipes to try.

Brown Butter Cherry Bars by Tutti Dolci

Fresh Cherry Sauce by The Brewer & The Baker

Cherry Almond Smoothie by Hungry Girl For Vida

Super Detox Salad by Well Plated

Cherry Chocolate Hazelnut Muffins by Hip Foodie Mom

Cherry Pomegranate Limeade Popsicles by Chef Savvy

Do your kids eat cherries? How do you serve them? Let me know in the comments.

5 Reasons Strawberries Are Healthy For Kids  The quintessential summer time fruit most kids love are super-healthy too.

5 Reasons Strawberries Are Healthy For Kids

The quintessential summer time fruit most kids love are super-healthy too.

There’s nothing better than the taste of fresh, sweet, succulent strawberries—the quintessential summer time fruit that most kids love.

In fact, 94 percent of U.S. households eat strawberries—nearly 5 pounds a year!

And 53 percent of young kids say strawberries are their favorite type of fruit.

The spring and summer months are prime time for picking strawberries, which is not only fun to do with your kids, but it can put an end to picky eating.

When it comes to choosing strawberries, organic is best since the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s ranks them #1 on their Dirty Dozen list of fruits and vegetables highest in pesticides.

If organic isn’t within your budget however, the benefits of eating conventionally grown strawberries still outweigh the risks.

Here are 5 reasons strawberries are healthy for kids.

1. Strawberries are loaded with nutrition

Strawberries are one of the best superfoods you can feed your kids.

One cup of strawberries have nearly 150 percent of the daily value of vitamin C.

Strawberries are high in fiber and manganese, and a good source of potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Strawberries are also rich in antioxidants that have been shown to ward off certain types of cancer.

Studies show eating strawberries may reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke and hypertension.

2. Strawberries can prevent and treat constipation

Constipation is a common problems for kids. In fact, nearly 5 percent of pediatrician visits are because of constipation, according to a report in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care.

With 3 grams of fiber in every cup and a high water content, eating strawberries can help prevent constipation and get things moving again.

3. Strawberries might prevent type-2 diabetes

Rates of type-2 diabetes are on the rise in kids— a result in part, due to childhood obesity and diets high in processed foods.

Between 2008 and 2009, more than 5,000 kids were diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. Plus, and April 2017 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed the rate of newly diagnosed cases of type-2 diabetes in children between ages 10 and 19 increased by 4.8 percent.

Although kids should eat a wide variety of fruits to get the most nutrition, strawberries are healthy for kids because they have a low glycemic load—a measurement of a food’s impact on blood sugar.

In fact, a small study published in  February 2016 in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found eating strawberries may improve insulin resistance and prevent type-2 diabetes.

4. Strawberries support healthy eyes

Strawberries are one of the best foods to support kids’ eye health.

Vitamin C is necessary for proper eye function and their antioxidants may prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

These are not concerns when kids are young of course, but teaching kids healthy eating habits now will set the stage for healthy eating in the future.

5. Strawberries encourage healthy eating

Kids love their sweets but before you dish out candy, cake or cookies, try serving strawberries.

Strawberries can satisfy a sweet tooth and make for a healthy, delicious swap for a high-sugar dessert, even if your kids refuse to eat dinner.

What’s more, if you can add strawberries to the list of foods your kid will eat, he may be more likely to try and love other new fruits too.

Do your kids love strawberries? What are your favorite ways to serve them? Let me know in the comments.