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.

7 Kid-Friendly Ways To Use Chia Seeds

7 Kid-Friendly Ways To Use Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are hands down the ultimate superfood of the last decade and a great way to get more plant-based foods in your kid’s diet.

Sure, they might be tiny, but they pack a ton of nutrition.

With more than 4 grams of protein and a whopping 10.6 grams of fiber in every ounce, chia seeds will satisfy your kid’s hunger. Plus, because they have a low glycemic index, they keep blood sugar levels steady.

Chia seeds are also a good source of calcium, and the highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show support cardiovascular health, lower inflammation, prevent chronic disease, and support brain health.

Although your kid may initially be turned off by what they look like, you won’t have to sell him on the taste, because they have a mild, nutty flavor.

The other great thing about chia seeds is they can be added to virtually any type of meal or snack. They should however, always be mixed into another food or liquid before consuming and small children should avoid eating them due to the risk of an obstruction in the esophagus.

If you’ve tried to serve them to your kids only to be met with resistance, or you’re looking for more kid-friendly ways to use chia seeds, here are 7 to try.

1. Chia seed pudding

Chia seed pudding is one of the most popular ways to serve them up and makes for a healthy after-school snack or dessert.

Since chia seeds absorb about 10 times their weight in liquid, when they’re mixed with a liquid like almond milk, they form a gel and become soft like tapioca pudding.

Chia seed pudding is also a great replacement for store-bought puddings which usually have a ton of artificial ingredients and are high in sugar.

You can add things like cacao or cocoa powder, honey or maple syrup, pure vanilla extract and cinnamon, and top the pudding with fresh or dried fruit.

2. Breads, muffins, pancakes and waffles

Chia seeds mix well with any of your favorite breakfast foods and baking recipes and can be used as a substitute for other types of seeds. Since I’m allergic to flax seeds, I use chia seeds in my favorite gluten-free bread recipe.

You can also use it as a substitute for whole eggs. To replace one egg, mix one tablespoon of  whole chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let it sit for 5 minutes.

3. Toppings and mix-ins

Kids love a little something extra and special in their meals, and chia seeds easily lend themselves as a healthy topping on yogurt and apple sauce and incorporated into overnight oats or parfaits.

4. Smoothies

Breakfast smoothies can be a great, non-sneaky way to get your kids to eat vegetables and when you blend in some chia seeds, there’s plenty of protein and fiber to fuel your kid until lunch. You can add dry chia seeds or soak them beforehand, it’s only a matter of preference.

5. Ice Cream and popsicles

Making homemade ice cream or popsicles allows you to control the ingredients, the amount of sugar and it saves you money, especially during the summer months when kids eat a lot of cool treats.

Try this recipe for Chocolate Chia Ice Cream and this one for Fruity Chia Seed Coconut Popsicles.

6. Jam

Whether it’s a PB&J or toast for breakfast, most kids love jam, jelly or fruit preserves. But most store-bought versions are made with ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and are high sugar. 

With some chia seeds, fresh or frozen fruit and a bit of sweetener however, you can make your own. Try this recipe from Cookie + Kate.

7. Granola

With oats, nuts, and fruit, granola is often seen as a heathy food but most types of granola are high in sugar.

Instead, make your own homemade granola—try this easy recipe—and add chia seeds for even more protein, fiber and texture.

What are some of your favorite ways to use chia seeds? Let me know in the comments.

7 Best Kids’ Yogurt Brands

7 Best Kids’ Yogurt Brands

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

Whether you’re serving it for breakfast, an after-school snack, or for dessert, yogurt can be a healthy food and one that your kids will love to eat.

Yogurt is high in protein, a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12, and rich in gut-friendly, immune-boosting probiotics.

In the U.S., the yogurt market is booming—worth an estimated $38.7 billion

so if it seems the options are endless, it’s not your imagination.

Between plain, Greek, Skyr, French and dairy-free, fruit-flavored and with sweet, crunchy mix-ins, trying to figure out how to choose a healthy kid’s yogurt can make your head spin.

Luckily, I’ve done the work for you and selected some of the best kids’ yogurt brands based on the amount of protein, sugar and ingredients. Here are 7.

 

 

1. Siggi’s Yogurt Tubes

Siggi’s 2% low-fat yogurt tubes top my list for best kids’ yogurt brands and makes for a perfect snack or addition in your kid’s lunch box.

A strained, non-fat traditional yogurt of Iceland known as Skyr, Siggi’s has a thick and creamy texture but it’s smoother than Greek yogurt.

High in protein—5 grams per serving—and low in sugar, Siggi’s is non-GMO, made with milk that doesn’t contain rbST, a growth hormone, and made with real fruit.

 

 2. Happy Family Whole Milk Yogurt

If you’re looking for a healthy kids’ yogurt to pack for the park, a playdate or school, Happy Family’s Whole Milk Yogurt pouches are a great choice.

Made with organic, non-GMO ingredients, they have no added sugar, are sweetened with organic fruit and vegetable purees and some varieties have healthy extras like oats and chia seeds.

Each serving has 3 grams of protein and between 4 and 6 grams of sugar, depending on the flavor.

 

3. Lavva

If you’re looking for a dairy-free, high protein yogurt, Lavva is my new favorite brand.

Lavva is plant-based yogurt made with pili nuts, a type of tree nut that’s grown in Southeast Asia and is high in magnesium, and a good source of protein, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and monounsaturated healthy fats that kids need in their diets.

It’s also made with young plantains, coconut, cassava and real fruit, it has no added sugar, flavors or artificial ingredients and is available in 7 different flavors.

It’s also low in sugar—only 6 grams per serving.

What I like most about Lavva is that unlike almond milk and coconut milk yogurts, it has a much thicker, creamier texture and a more robust flavor.

One caveat: with 140 calories per serving, pay attention to portion sizes and take into consideration your kid’s age and if you’re serving it with lunch or as a snack, for example.

 

4. Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Tubes Strawberry Beet Berry

An organic kids’ yogurt made with dairy from pasture-raised cows and non-GMO ingredients, Stonyfield Organic’s Whole Milk Tubes Strawberry Beet Berry is one of the better in the product line of yogurt tubes.

With just 50 calories per serving, there’s a decent amount of protein (2 grams), but what I like best is that it’s also low in sugar (5 grams).

 

5. Green Valley Creamery Organic Plain Lowfat Yogurt

A lactose-free yogurt, Green Valley Creamery’s Organic Plain Lowfat Yogurt has no sugar added, no artificial ingredients and no preservatives.

Each 90-calorie serving has 8 grams of protein and 8 grams of sugar. They also have a whole milk variety that’s also high in protein and low in sugar.

 

6. Dannon Oikos Greek Nonfat Yogurt

Greek yogurt is high in protein and Dannon’s Oikos Greek Nonfat Yogurt does not disappoint.

Each 80-calorie serving has a whopping 15 grams of protein and 6 grams of sugar.

The tangy flavor of Greek yogurt can be a hard sell for kids however, so try adding cinnamon, pure vanilla extract, fresh berries or even a hint of honey to sweeten it.

 

 

7. Dannon Danimals

With no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, and non-GMO, Dannon’s Danimals non-fat yogurt can be a good option if kid-friendly characters are the draw that will get yours to eat yogurt.

With 4 grams of protein and 10 grams of sugar per serving, it’s not my first pick, but it’s not the worst yogurt brand either.

 

 

What are your favorite kids’ yogurts? Leave me a comment!

5 “Healthy” Kids’ Foods That Are Actually Desserts and Treats

5 “Healthy” Kids’ Foods That Are Actually Desserts and Treats

Go to any grocery store and you’ll find dozens of store shelves lined with so-called “healthy”  kids foods that you think are good choices for your family.

Maybe they have whole grains, are made with real fruit, are high in fiber, gluten-free and have no high-fructose corn syrup.

The healthwashing practices companies use are deceiving and can make you feel really good about buying their products for your kids.

After all, they’re not the potato chips, cookies and candy you already know to avoid.

Yet there are some foods that you’re probably feeding your kids every day, which although they may seem like good choices, are actually desserts and treats in disguise—and something kids should eat occasionally. Here are 5.

1. Dried fruit

My daughter loves to eat raisins and I used to be OK with her eating a handful with oatmeal or mixed with sunflower seeds since they’re a good source of fiber, iron (she was anemic), and calcium.

After a while however, I found that she was asking for them all the time and eating them like candy—and I can’t blame her.

Raisins, and other types of dried fruit, are really high in sugar. One small box of raisins has 25 grams of sugar—as much as a Hershey’s chocolate bar!

Dried fruit has more nutrition than candy of course, but it’s better to serve fresh, whole fruit whenever possible and reserve dried fruit as a treat.

2. Trail mix

Trail mix has traditionally be seen as a healthy food, but most types are packed with salty nuts, seeds, dried fruit (see #1), “yogurt-” covered raisins, chocolate chips and M&Ms.

Trail mix is also high in calories: one ounce has 129 calories—it doesn’t sound like a lot, but because of its salty and sweet combination, it’s easy to keep snacking.

Nuts and seeds can be a healthy snack especially because they have the healthy fats kids need in their diets.

But if you want to serve trail mix, make your own because you get to control the ingredients and the portion size.

3. Cereal

Cereal is an easy option for breakfast especially when you’re rushed and running out the door in the morning—which if you’re like me, that’s every morning.

Yet most cereals are low in protein and fiber, filled with artificial ingredients and loaded with sugar.

In fact, a May 2014 study by the Environmental Working Group found kids who eat a bowl of cereal every day for a year get a whopping 10 pounds of sugar in their diets.

And I’m not only talking about the cereals that have bright, artificial colors, marshmallows and favorite characters on their boxes—so called “healthy cereals” aren’t always the best option either.

Cereal can be an OK breakfast option, but it’s probably best to serve it every once in a while, or as dessert.

Instead, serve eggs, oatmeal and even leftovers, which have the nutrition your kids need to stay focused until lunch.

 Need more ideas? Check out my blog post, 5 Tips For a Quick and Healthy Breakfast and How To Pick a Healthy Cereal For Your Kids.

4. Goldfish crackers

When I ask my kids what their classmates bring for snack time, most of them bring processed, packaged foods.

One of the most popular of course, are Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish crackers. Suffice to say, most parents have packed them in their kid’s lunch box or served them as after-school snacks—my daughter even gets them at church.

In fact, a 2018 survey found 2.63 million people ate 8 or more bags of Goldfish within the last 30 days!

Kids love the taste, but Pepperidge Farm also does a great job of marketing them as healthy. Some of their health claims include:

  • Baked with real cheese
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives.
  • Colors sourced from real plants.

 True, they have varieties made with whole grains and organic wheat, but Goldfish can’t compare to serving up fresh, whole foods like fruits and vegetables.

If you want to take a deep dive into why these snacks aren’t something you should be feeding your kid everyday, I encourage you to read Megan Telpner’s very comprehensive blog post, Why Golfish Crackers Don’t Belong in A Lunch Box.

5. Pre-made smoothies

Smoothies are often seen as the quintessential health food, especially because they’re made with good-for-you-ingredients like almond milk, yogurt, chia seeds, and fruit.

Yet take a look at most bottled or restaurant smoothies—yes, green smoothies too—and you’ll discover most are filled with sugar thanks to ingredients like fruit juice, honey, raw sugar and loads of fresh fruit.

Sure, fresh fruit has natural sugars, but sugar is sugar.

Take Smoothie King’s Apple Kiwi Bunga, one of their kids’ blends, for example. It sounds really healthy—it has kale—but with apple juice and an “apple juice blend,” this smoothie weighs in at 30 grams of sugar.

Store bought yogurt smoothies aren’t the best option either.

Stonyfield Organics’ low-fat strawberry banana smoothie is made with organic strawberry juice from concentrate. And the second ingredient? Cane sugar.

With 15 grams of sugar per serving, it’s not the worst smoothie you could feed your kid, but it’s better as a treat.

10 High-Fiber Foods Kids Will Love

10 High-Fiber Foods Kids Will Love

Fiber is something all kids need in their diets but most aren’t getting enough from foods like fruits and vegetables and those with whole grains.

In fact, 9 in 10 kids don’t eat enough vegetables, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 39 percent don’t eat any whole grains.

If you’re trying to get your kids to eat more fiber-rich foods, the good news is that you don’t have to resort to gritty bran cereal, sneak vegetables into their meals or force them to drink a fiber supplement.

With plenty of opportunities to taste and explore new fiber-rich foods, kids can grow to accept—and even crave them.

These 10 picks are healthy, delicious and super-easy to incorporate into any meal or serve as snacks.

1. Apples

When you think of high-fiber foods, apples are usually the first to come to mind.

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.

2. Chia seeds

With a whopping 10.6 grams of fiber in every ounce, chia seeds are a standout when it comes to fiber-rich foods for kids.

Chia seeds are also high in protein, a good source of calcium, and the highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show support cardiovascular health, lower inflammation, prevent chronic disease, and support brain health.

A word of caution: due to the risk of an obstruction in the esophagus, avoid feeding chia seeds to little ones.

3. Raspberries

All types of berries are high in fiber, but with more than 6 grams of fiber in a 1/2 cup, raspberries are one of the best.

Raspberries are also loaded with antioxidants and rich in vitamins C, K, and magnesium, and they’re low glycemic so they won’t spike your kid’s blood sugar.

4. Avocado

Avocado is a superfood for kids, thanks to almost 2 grams of fiber in every ounce. 

Avocado also has 20 vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and lutein and zeaxanthin, or carotenoids, found in the eyes that can improve memory and processing speed, one study found.

5. Figs

Real figs (not the cookie kind!) are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

A 1/2 cup of raw figs contain nearly 3 grams of fiber while the same portion of dried figs have more than 9 grams.

Figs are also a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin K.

6. Popcorn

If you’re looking for a crunchy kids’ snack with some fiber, serve up some popcorn.

A cup of popcorn has more than 1 gram of fiber, which isn’t a ton but it’s much better than a bag of chips for example, and it’s a whole grain. Unlike refined carbohydrates, whole grain carbohydrates keep blood sugar steady and help stave off hunger.

7. Rolled oats

With 6 grams of filling fiber in a 1/2 cup, rolled oats are a good source of whole grains as well as iron, selenium and manganese.

When buying rolled oats or oatmeal, always read labels and compare brands because the amount of fiber can vary.

8. Almonds

With nearly 3 grams of fiber in one ounce, almonds are fiber-rich and filling.

Almonds are also a great source of protein and iron, and make for a quick and easy kids’ snack.

9. Sweet potatoes

With more than 3 grams of fiber in a 1/2 cup,  sweet potatoes are one of the best high-fiber foods to feed your kids.

Sweet potatoes are also loaded with antioxidants and lend themselves to almost any meal.

10. Beans

You can’t go wrong with beans, which are high in both fiber and protein, and an excellent source of folate, zinc, iron and magnesium. They’re also rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that fights inflammation.

Navy beans and small white beans are some of the highest in fiber—more than 9 grams in a 1/2 cup.

5 Foods With Healthy Fats Kids Will Love

5 Foods With Healthy Fats Kids Will Love

The long-standing myth that eating fat causes high cholesterol, heart disease and weight gain has been debunked and we now know that healthy fats are essential to our health and our kids’.

Fats are a vital source of energy for our kids and help satisfy their hunger. Fats are essential for healthy cell membranes, they support kids’ brains and the growth and development of their nervous systems, and help their bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins like  A, D, E, and K. Fat are also necessary to make hormones and immune cells and they help regulate inflammation and metabolism.   

While experts agree it’s the trans fats and some saturated fats that should be avoided, foods with healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats from whole foods are beneficial.

Here are 5 foods with healthy fats you should consider getting in your kid’s diet.

 

1. Avocado

Avocado is a super-food because the polyunsaturated fats are vital for brain growth and development during pregnancy and for babies and children.

Avocado also packs in a ton of nutrition without a lot of calories.

A good source of fiber, avocado also has 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate, iron, magnesium and potassium.

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

Add avocado to salads, make avocado toast or an avocado chocolate pudding.

2. Chia seeds

An excellent source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are by far one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

In fact, chia seeds are the highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show support cardiovascular health, lower inflammation, prevent chronic disease, and support brain health.

Add chia seeds to smoothies, mix them into oatmeal, incorporate them into your favorite baking recipes or make a chia seed pudding.

A word of caution: young children shouldn’t eat chia seeds because of the risk of  an obstruction in the esophagus.

3. Walnuts

The only nut with a significant source of  alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, walnuts are a great way to get healthy fats in your kid’s diet.

An excellent source of magnesium and phosphorus, one ounce of walnuts also have 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber which will satisfy your kid’s hunger and give him plenty of fuel during the day.

Walnuts make for an easy, healthy snack, or add them to salads, savory meals or mix them into breads, muffins and other baked goods.

4. Olives

Most of the healthy fats in olives (a fruit), are oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat, but they also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Olives are also a good source of vitamin e, selenium and zinc.

Add olives to salads, pasta or rice dishes or make an olive tapenade kids can snack on before dinner.

5. Sunflower Seeds

An ounce of sunflower seeds has 14 grams of fat, including omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats.

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

Add sunflower seeds to salads, on top of yogurt or make your own healthy trail mix.

5 Healthy Foods I Buy Every Week

5 Healthy Foods I Buy Every Week

While I enjoying going to the mall to shop for new clothes just like the next mom, perusing the aisles of the grocery store and specialty food market to check out new products is my guilty pleasure.

If my kids are with me however, I’m hyper-focused on getting in and out of the store as soon as possible.

It seems that they inevitably ask for something that isn’t on the list, but if they spot a vegetable they’ve never tried, I’m happy to buy it. Allowing them to make choices and explore new foods is a great way to teach kids about healthy eating.

Since life is so hectic, I also have to make sure I keep meals simple. I usually spend some time on the weekends to roast vegetables, make a large vat of lentils for school lunches and bake gluten-free bread.

Sticking with many of the same foods and meals each week takes the guesswork out of meal planning and makes my life less stressful.

While we often purchase a new type of fish, try new spices or test out new recipes, there are 5 healthy foods I buy every week that make healthy eating a breeze.

1. Salad


When salad starts to run low in the refrigerator, I start to feel a bit uneasy. I know,

it sounds completely ridiculous, but our family eats a lot of salad and I rely on it to make meals fast.

Salad is of course healthy, but it’s also one of the quickest meals you can make for lunch and dinner.

With my wood chopping bowl and mezzaluna set, it’s super-easy to chop and mix everything right in the bowl without having to pull out a chopping board. I add lettuce, raw vegetables and avocado, pair it with a protein and I have a meal ready in no time.

 


2. Avocado


High in fiber and healthy fats, and packed with nutrition, avocado is a superfood for kids and a must-have in my kitchen.

I add avocado to salads, serve it with eggs, or make guacamole in my Vitamix.

You can also make avocado toast, add it to smoothies, use it to make homemade salad dressing, or swap it for mayonnaise or butter in baking recipes.


3. Beans


We eat a lot of plant-based foods so beans are something I buy every week.

Beans are high in both protein and fiber and an excellent source of folate, zinc, iron and magnesium. They’re also rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that fights inflammation.

I usually serve beans with green leafy vegetables, add them to salads, or make bean burgers or beans and rice.

 

 

4. Eggs


Eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids which is why my family eats them every day.

They’re an excellent source of protein and high in lutein, B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

Eggs lend themselves to so many easy and delicious recipes too.

In addition to scrambled eggs and omelets, I’ll make a vegetable frittata or quiche, egg “fried” rice or egg salad. A large batch of hard-boiled eggs stocked in the refrigerator are also great to have on hand for grab-and-go snacks.

 

 

5. Bananas

Bananas are a great source of potassium and vitamin B6, and also a good source of fiber: 1 small banana has 2.6 grams.

When my older daughter walks into the kitchen in the morning, she immediately reaches for a banana to eat with her breakfast.

I also use bananas for my morning smoothies, add them to overnight oats or incorporate them into baked goods so I usually buy two bunches every week. If some start to over-ripen, I pop them in the freezer to use later or to whip up a dairy-free treat.

What are some healthy foods you buy every week? Let me know in the comments!

5 Healthy Types of Fish For Kids (& How to Make Them Delicious)

5 Healthy Types of Fish For Kids (& How to Make Them Delicious)

If you’ve tried to feed your kids fish, chances are their reactions—yuck! and gross!—and the mealtime battle that ensued was enough of a reason to never offer it again. 

There’s no getting around that fish is right up there with other offensive foods like Brussels sprouts and beans, but if you can get your kids to take a few bites, they’ll get a ton of nutrition into their diets.

Packed with protein, low in saturated fat, and rich in micronutrients, perhaps the biggest benefit of eating fish are the omega-3 fatty acids which support kids’ brain health and memory.

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—4 points higher on average—than kids who eat fish less frequently or not at all.

Studies also show that omega-3’s may prevent anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses.

In fact, an October 2011 study in the Journal of the American Academy and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids has a small, but significant, effect on improving attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms.

Of course, there’s always the concern of mercury in fish, which types of fish are safe for kids and how many servings are best.

Before introducing fish and shellfish to your child, be sure to check in with your pediatrician because of the risk of food allergies.

Although all types of fish are packed with nutrition, there are some that you might consider focusing on.

These 5 healthy types of fish for kids are high in vitamins and minerals, excellent sources of protein and healthy fats and low in mercury.

1. Tuna fish

Thanks to its mild flavor and aroma, tuna is perhaps one of the easiest types of fish to get your kid to eat.

Tuna is an excellent source of protein: an ounce has more than 8 grams. Tuna fish is also a good source of vitamin B12, phosphorus, niacin and selenium.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), canned light tuna (solid or chunk, including skipjack) is a “best choice” for kids.

White albacore and yellow fish are both considered a “good” choice, but because they’re higher in mercury, stick to one serving a week.

Serve tuna in a sandwich, lettuce wrap or in a green salad.

2. Salmon

To get dinner on the table almost every night, I tend to stick to the basics and serve many of the same meals.

Since it’s so easy and fast, salmon has become my go-to meal on Monday when we’re off to the races of a busy week.

Salmon is an excellent source of protein and a good source of niacin, vitamins B6 and B12 and selenium.

It’s also versatile enough to serve at any meal, not only dinner. Serve leftover salmon on toast for breakfast or make an omelet. Canned salmon also works well in a sandwich or a lettuce wrap for lunch.

3. Anchovies

My kids love anchovies as much as I do and actually fight over who gets more when we crack open a can.

Although anchovies are definitely a type of food anyone—including adults—either love or hate, they’re one of the healthiest types of fish for kids.

A good source of protein, anchovies are also rich in iron, niacin, selenium, magnesium and phosphorus.

An ounce of anchovies provide 7 percent of the daily value for calcium, which helps build strong, healthy bones and teeth.

Since they can be an acquired taste and are high in sodium, try adding small amounts to pizza, pasta and rice dishes, and chopped salads.

4. Sardines

Sardines are another type of fish my kids started to eat regularly after they saw me eating them and asked to have a taste.

A good source of protein, calcium, vitamins B12 and D, phosphorus and selenium, sardines are less pungent that anchovies but still packed with plenty of nutrition.

Fresh or canned, you can grill or sauté sardines, add a small amount of mayonnaise just like you would with tuna fish or add them to pasta and rice dishes.

5. Scallops

With a mild and slightly sweet flavor and soft, buttery texture, scallops are another healthy type of fish that kids may be more likely to try.

Scallops are an excellent source of protein, phosphorus and selenium and a good source of vitamin B12, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and copper. Scallops are also a good source of zinc, which supports a healthy immune system.

Kids like bite-sized foods and since scallops are so small, try serving them as an appetizer or paired with a dipping sauce.

10 Ways To Get More Plant-Based Foods Into Your Kid’s Diet

10 Ways To Get More Plant-Based Foods Into Your Kid’s Diet

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

Whether your family are vegetarians, vegans, pegans or full-fledged meat eaters, getting more plant-based foods into your kid’s diet is one of the best things you can do for their health.

Plant-based foods are packed with the nutrition kids need for their growth and development.

Most plant-based foods also have filling fiber to satisfy their hunger and prevent constipation.

Recent studies show plant-based diets are also linked with a lower risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity.

When you have picky eaters however, getting them to eat more vegetables, plant-based proteins and different types of grains can seem impossible.

With a few tips and tricks however, you can add more plant-based foods to your kid’s diet. Here are 10.

1. Start small

If your kids already don’t love beans, you’re probably not going to get them to eat black-bean soup, no matter how different it may look.   

Instead, start out by introducing small—even minuscule—amounts like a teaspoon of peas they can munch on before dinner when they’re most likely to be hungry.


2. Blend it up


Every morning, I make this really easy smoothie for my kids and I in my Vitamix: one cup of almond milk, 2 cups of spinach, 2 stalks of celery, one banana, and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.

I like green smoothies for kids, not as a way to sneak vegetables, but to get a bunch of vegetables and other plant-based foods into one meal.

Making smoothies with your kids is also a great way to teach them about healthy eating. When kids pick what goes into smoothies and have a hand in making it, they feel empowered and excited to try what they made.

 

3. Take advantage of snack time


Kids love their snacks but most kids snack up to three times a day on foods like chips, cookies and other junk food, which nets a whopping 600 calories, a March 2010 study in the journal Health Affairs found.

If snack time is when your kid is hungry and most likely to eat, use it as an opportunity to get more plant-based foods into his diet.

Serve cut veggies with a bean dip or hummus, fruit with a nut butter, chia seed pudding, a muffin with almond flour and flaxseeds, or homemade trail mix with nuts, seeds and raisins.

 

 

4. Put fruits and vegetables in plain sight


Kids will eat what’s visible and accessible so keep healthy options front and center.

Keep a fruit bowl filled with easy options like bananas, apples and pears.

Also, when you get home from the grocery store, wash and cut up fruits and veggie and store them in glass containers in the refrigerator. Most grocery stores also have grab and go containers of fruits and vegetables that are already washed and cut up, making healthy eating a no-brainer.

 

 

5. Serve frozen fruit for dessert

Frozen fruit is a great way to get more plant-based foods into your kid’s diet and it may pack more nutrition than fresh. 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.

Serve frozen fruit straight out of the package for snack time or add it to smoothies, yogurt parfaits or overnight oats. You can also blend it up with some almond or coconut milk for a delicious dessert.


6. Re-think recipes


When you do your meal planning, think about ways to swap meat for plant-based foods. Try zoodles, bean burgers, veggie burgers, black bean soup, vegetarian chili, or an egg “fried” rice with edamame.

 

 

7. Try new whole-grains


Most kids will eat pasta and rice but those with whole grains are the best. Whole grains provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Some whole grains like quinoa, (a seed), provides both protein and fiber.

Make meals interesting by switching up the grains you serve. Instead of brown rice, experiment with new types like farro, teff and millet.


8. Make “fries” and “chips”


There are so many ways to transform plant-based foods into foods kids already love like fries and chips.
Carrots can be sliced thin and roasted in the oven. Check out this recipe for carrot chips on Weelicious.

Or try kale chips, jicama and parsnip “fries,” or roasted chickpeas.


9. Make a vegetable hash

 

Kids may not eat leftover vegetables for breakfast but if they like hash browns, try substituting grated veggies like squash, zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes or parsnips into a hash and serve them with eggs.

 

 

10. Think finger foods

Kids love finger foods and when you serve plant-based foods, there are plenty of options.

Offer small pieces of fruits and vegetables, beans, lentils, edamame, small cubes of tofu or tempeh, nuts, seeds, and avocado.

7 Budget-Friendly Healthy Foods

7 Budget-Friendly Healthy Foods

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


Although there are ways to eat healthy on a budget, there’s no denying that buying fresh, whole—even frozen—foods is pricier than processed, packaged foods and fast food.

In the last decade alone, the cost of food has increased by 26 percent and the average grocery bill for a family of 4 is anywhere between $129 and $285 per week, according to the USDA.

The good news is that your family can eat healthy and save money without sacrificing nutrition or taste.

Here are 7 budget-friendly healthy foods to fill up your grocery cart with each week.


1. Bananas


A great source of potassium and vitamin B6, bananas are also a good source of fiber: 1 small banana has 2.6 grams.

Since they’re not considered part of the dirty dozen, you can buy conventional  bananas which are more affordable.

In our home, we go through at least two bunches of bananas a week. I add bananas to oatmeal, overnight oats, green smoothies, and use them as a replacement for oil in bread, muffin and baking recipes.

When the bananas start to over-ripen, throw them in the freezer and whip up a frozen, non-dairy faux ice cream to stretch your food dollars even more.

 

2. Eggs


Eggs are often dubbed “a perfect food” and for good reason.

An excellent source of protein, eggs are also high in lutein, B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

Eggs make the list of budget friendly healthy foods because they’re so versatile.

Hard-boiled eggs can be served for breakfast, added to salads, transformed into egg salad or packed for snacks when you’re on the go.

My kids eat eggs almost every day whether it’s scrambled, in a frittata or a quiche, or incorporated into an egg “fried” rice.

Pasture-raised eggs and organic eggs are ideal because they’re raised humanely, treated without antibiotics or arsenic, and their nutritional profile is better than white eggs.

Although they’re more expensive, I’ve noticed prices come way down in recent months.

Something I also discovered at my local grocery store is that organic eggs are found in two areas of the store: the organic/natural section where they’re more expensive and the regular eggs section which are more affordable.


3. Broccoli


Since they’re high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, green leafy vegetables are some of the best vegetables to feed your kids

Broccoli in particular, is high in vitamins C, K, and folate.

It’s also quite affordable and can be served cooked or raw, and for meals or snacks.

Add broccoli to stews, casseroles and salads, as well as egg, pasta and rice dishes. 

Or use your blender or Vitamix to blend the florets and the stems into a healthy, delicious soup.


4. Rolled oats


Rolled oats are low in sugar and a good source of whole grains and filling fiber, iron, selenium and manganese.

I use rolled oats practically every day in oatmeal, overnight oats, energy bites, cookies, breads, pancakes and muffins.


5. Frozen peas


With 5 grams of fiber and protein per 1/2 cup, peas are also a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, K, folate and magnesium.

While fresh peas are in season in the spring, you can stock up on frozen peas all year long.

Peas not only make for a great first food for baby, but they can be added to practically every dish including soups, stews, rice dishes, pastas and salads.

 

 


6. Sweet potatoes


An excellent source of vitamins A and C, and fiber, sweet potatoes are not only healthy, but a food most kids like and one that can stretch your food budget.

I love roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon and sea salt but you can also pop them in the microwave when you’re tight on time or grate them into a hash and serve them with eggs.

 

 


7. Beans and lentils


Beans and lentils are high in both protein and fiber and excellent sources of iron. Also, since you can buy beans in bulk, a little goes a long way.

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.