7 Healthy Memorial Day BBQ Ideas

7 Healthy Memorial Day BBQ Ideas

The Memorial Day BBQ is the unofficial start to the summer and whether you’ll be hosting or visiting family and friends, there will be plenty of food.

Yet between hot dogs and hamburgers, potato salad, coleslaw, chips and dip and your favorite red-white-and-blue dessert, Memorial Day is also one of the most caloric, high-sugar, fat-laden holidays of the year.

While I encourage my kids to try new foods and indulge on any holiday, I also worry that they’ll overeat, which in the past, have caused them to become physically ill.

Not only that, but I want to teach them healthy eating habits and how to enjoy food without going overboard.

Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice taste, forego your favorite summertime dishes or have “food rules” to strike a balance. Here are 7 healthy Memorial Day BBQ ideas that will allow your family to enjoy without getting too far off track.

Stay hydrated

Chances are Memorial Day will be a warm, sunny day and your kids will be running around so it’s important to encourage them to drink plenty of water.

Encourage your kid to stick with water throughout the day, instead of juice which is high in empty calories and sugar, spikes blood sugar, and may encourage cravings for other sugary fare.

If plain water is hard for your kids to swallow however, add sliced cucumbers or strawberries for some flavor. See also: How to Get Your Kids To Drink More Water

Since thirst can often be mistaken for hunger, drinking water before you arrive to your cookout can prevent overeating.

2. Offer veggies


The great thing about the vegetables served at Memorial Day BBQs is that they’re often kid-friendly.

Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, brightly-colored sliced bell peppers, cucumber slices, broccoli florets and jicama “fries,” are often kid favorites and if they’re served with a dip, even better.

You can also set up a station with a variety of vegetables and have your kids make their own grilled veggie kabobs.

Although your kids may still not want to eat vegetables since other, tastier options will be available, do your best to get some on their plates since they’ll help to satisfy their hunger, fill them up, and prevent constipation.

3. Arrive hungry

Most nutrition experts advise people to have a small snack before they arrive at a party to prevent overeating, but arriving hungry may actually be a good thing for your kids.

By taking advantage of their hunger, you might have an easier time of encouraging them to make at least a few healthy choices.

Instead of filling up their plates with chips, which they’re probably going to eat anyway, you may be able to get them to eat fruits and vegetables first and have a more balanced meal.

4. Upgrade your protein

Most kids love hamburgers and hot dogs, but think about other protein options for you and them.

Instead of regular ‘ol hamburgers, make your own using grass fed beef. Or serve organic grilled chicken, shrimp or pull together a bean salad or lentil chili.

5. Include healthy dessert options

Kids should enjoy s’mores, ice cream or a festive Memorial Day dessert, but why not have other options available too to show kids that healthy food can be delicious.

Consider making a fruit salad with strawberries and blueberries, homemade fruit popsicles, or an almond butter fruit dip.

6. Pay attention to portions


When buffets, family style dining, and bowls of snacks are out for the day, it’s easy for kids to grab and lose sight of how much they’re eating.

Although I let my kids decide what they want to eat, I also help them make up their plate and keep portion sizes at bay.

7. Set up games and activities


There’s no doubt kids will be busy running and playing at their Memorial Day BBQ, but you can also set up games and activities that encourage them to move more. 

Think: ring toss, jump rope, hide and seek, tag, telephone or freeze dance.

What are some of your healthy Memorial Day BBQ ideas? Let me know in the comments!

Best and Worst Drinks For Kids

Best and Worst Drinks For Kids

Longer days and warmer temperatures mean more time for outdoor sports, bike riding, and playing at the park.

Since kids are usually more active this time of year than during the winter, getting them to stay hydrated is much easier but what they drink is key.

Most drinks marketed to kids and young athletes are loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors. Those so-called “healthy” kids made with ingredients like dairy and fruit? They’re no better.

So what should your kids drink to stay hydrated? Here, get a list of the best and worst drinks for kids.

Best Kid’s Drinks

Water

Water makes up 60 percent of a child’s body weight and is an essential nutrient, responsible for every function in the body.

Pure, simple H2O may not be their first choice, but it’s the best because it gives their bodies what they need and it quenches their thirst without any unnecessary calories, fat or sugar.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics says water should be their main source of hydration.

Depending on their age, weight and sex, kids should get between 6 and 8 cups of water a day, although that can include drinking water and water from foods like fruits and vegetables.

If you have trouble getting your kids to drink enough water, here are 5 ways to encourage them.

Milk

My kids will drink cow’s milk from time to time, but overall, I’m not a fan of it.

Expert say drinking dairy isn’t necessary.

Although it’s been promoted as a food that builds strong bones, studies show consuming dairy doesn’t reduce the risk of hip fractures in men and women.

Consuming dairy has also been linked to increased risks for heart disease, cancer and death.

Besides, they get their calcium from other, better calcium-rich foods that aren’t dairy.

Still, if you decide to serve it to your kids, it does have some benefits. It’s a good source of protein, vitamins A, B6, B12, D (because it’s added), calcium, magnesium, niacin, riboflavin, selenium and zinc.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), kids between 1 and 8-years old should get 2 cups a day of dairy or milk and kids 9 and older should get 3 cups.

Non-dairy milk alternatives

Almond milk, coconut milk and other non-dairy milk alternatives usually have less protein and calories than cow’s milk, but they can have as much, if not more, calcium and vitamin D.

Compare brands and read labels carefully. I like to steer clear of those that are high in sugar and instead choose those made without artificial ingredients and are non-GMO, like Califia Farms.

Worst Kids’ Drinks

 

 

 

Soda

It goes without saying that soda is hands down the worst drink for kids. Soda is high in sugar and artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors.

Soda and other sugary drinks are main contributors to the childhood obesity epidemic, and conditions like type-2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which are also on the rise in kids.

Despite the health risks, 63 percent of kids consume a sugar-sweetened beverage on any given day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

If your kids won’t drink plain water, serving sparkling water with cucumbers or strawberries, for example, for some sweetness is an OK substitute. 

The more you can steer them away from the fizzy stuff and encourage them to drink water however, the better the chances that they’ll stick with the healthy habit throughout their lives.

 

 

Flavored milk

It blows my mind that chocolate milk is an acceptable drink for school lunch and

it’s one of the reasons I’m trying to change my kids’ school lunch program.

Flavored milk may have calcium and protein, but the sugar content is way too high: a 1/2 cup of low-fat chocolate milk has nearly 25 grams of sugar

as much as a chocolate bar!

 

 

Juice

Kids love to drink juice, and juice boxes are really convenient especially when you’re spending time outside, but juice is one of the worst drinks for kids.

Juice lacks fiber and is high in calories and concentrated sugars.

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

Surprisingly the claim “fruit juice from concentrate” is actually added sugar and even if the label says “100 percent fruit juice,” it can still be made with fruit juice from concentrate.

Learn more about why juice isn’t healthy for kids and how homemade juicing can fit into a child’s diet.

 

Lemonade

It may be the quintessential summertime drink, but both store-bought and homemade lemonades are high in sugar.

Since lemons are acidic, letting your kids sip on lemonade all day can also cause erosion, which leads to cavities.

Save lemonade for an occasional treat or for weekend barbecues and make your own. Try this recipe for healthy homemade lemonade.

 

Ice tea

Ice tea sounds like a healthy and benign choice—tea is high in antioxidants, after all, but sweetened ice teas are high in sugar.

With unsweetened ice tea, you won’t get the sugar but some brands also have caffeine.

As an alternative, you can brew a non-caffeinated herbal tea at home. Keep in mind  however, that some herbal teas aren’t safe for kids so read labels and when in doubt, check with your pediatrician.

 

Fruit smoothies

Smoothies are often seen as a health food, 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.

If your kids like smoothies, make your own at home. Combine 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent fruit to keep the sugar low and pay attention to add-ins which can make a drink meant to quench your kid’s thirst, enough calories to be a meal.

 

Sports and energy drinks

Sports and energy drinks are heavily marketed to kids, particularly for those that play sports, but they’re a significant source of calories and sugar.

Energy drinks also contain caffeine, and other stimulants, which have been linked to harmful neurological and cardiovascular effects, according to the AAP.

The AAP says water is usually fine for kids playing sports but sports drinks can be helpful for young kids who are engaged in prolonged, vigorous sports. Energy drinks should be avoid altogether.

[VIDEO] 5 Spring Activities That Will End Picky Eating

[VIDEO] 5 Spring Activities That Will End Picky Eating

When you have kids who are picky eaters, it can take months—even years—

to get them to try a bite of new, healthy foods.

You do your best to offer fruits and vegetables, try new recipes, different cooking methods or add butter or cheese to make them more appealing but nothing seems to work.

Picky eating is really frustrating and if you’re ready to throw in the towel, you’re not the only one.

According to a 2018 survey out of the U.K., half of moms and dads have given up persuading their kids to eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day.

Take heed—and stick with it.

With spring time in full swing, there is perhaps no better time of year to offer all the healthy superfoods the season has to offer and take advantage of fun activities that can get your kids out of their picky eating behaviors for good. Here are 5.

Short on time? Get 3 tips in this quick video.

1. Berry picking

Although my kids eat just about anything, they have fallen into picky eating patterns in the past.

Last year for example, the only types of fruits my older daughter would eat were bananas, mangos, watermelon and cantaloupe.

As a toddler, she used to eat berries by the handful but now it had become impossible.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal—she was eating fruit after all—but berries are high in fiber, a great source of antioxidants and low glycemic, so they don’t have as high of an impact on blood sugar as the types of fruits she was eating.

Kids have their own food preferences of course, so I didn’t push the issue. But my gut feeling was that it was a phase.

Everything changed when we visited my mother-in-law in Delaware and made an impromptu trip to a blueberry orchard.

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).

But within seconds, my daughter was saying: “I love blueberries!” and “blueberries are delicious!”

As we continued to pick the blueberries, I shook my head. I couldn’t believe how one new experience could literally change her perspective in seconds flat.

One of my Instagram followers had a similar experience:

“… this is how I got my daughter [to] eat more fruit. We go pick fruit all the time! She loves it and most of the time more goes in her tummy than in the bucket.”

May is the season to pick strawberries, but keep up the fun throughout the summer by picking blueberries, peaches, nectarines and cherries as well.

2. Farmers’ market

Visiting your local farmers’ market is a spring activity that can put an end to picky eating.

Kids learn where food comes from and it’s a new way for them to be exposed to local fruits and vegetables.

Let your kids pick out something they’ve never tried before and prepare it together at home—it will make them feel empowered and more likely to eat it.    

3. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm allows you to purchase local, seasonal food directly from local farmers.

You purchase a “share,” usually a box of vegetables, but some CSAs also include other farm products like eggs and cheese, that you receive each week.

It may be a benefit or a drawback depending on how you look at it, but you’ll receive varieties of vegetables that you never tried or heard of before.

Some CSAs may also allow you to personalize your share and choose some of the produce that’s included.

If you’re not ready to commit to a CSA, then take a visit to a local farm. Many local farms host tours, cooking classes and special events that can encourage your kids to try new foods.

4. Plant a garden

Last year, our family planted our first vegetable garden and my kids were thrilled to pick and eat the salad, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers that we grew.

A family garden is one of the best ways to encourage healthy eating. In fact, a September 2016 study out of the University of Florida suggests kids who garden are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables throughout their lives.

When kids learn how to grow their own food, they get really excited to see the fruits—and vegetables—of their labor and their perspectives can change overnight.

If you don’t have space for a garden, use small potted plants, grow herbs, sprouts or microgreens, or look for community gardens where you can plant your own food.

5. Have a picnic

Sometimes all it takes to get your kids out of their picky eating behaviors is a change of scenery.

Take advantage of the warmer weather and longer days and head out to the park, picnic grounds or even your own backyard for a picnic with your kids.

Pack foods you know they’ll eat in addition to some new, in-season foods, which they may be more likely to eat because eating outside is something different—and fun.

What are some of your favorite spring activities that have encouraged your kids to eat healthy? Let me know in the comments!

8 Health Risks of Childhood Obesity Every Parent Should Know

8 Health Risks of Childhood Obesity Every Parent Should Know

You already know the statistics: one-third of children in the U.S are overweight or obese and rates have more than tripled since the 1970’s.

Although we hear a lot about childhood obesity itself, what I think is often missing in the message is the why.

We talk a lot about eating right and exercise, which are of course, important to prevent childhood obesity, but what seems to be missing is a focus on the several long-term health consequences of childhood obesity.

Perhaps even more important is that many of the health risks of childhood obesity can affect kids both when they’re young and as adults.

Although many health conditions have physical symptoms and can be diagnosed, some are insidious and may not be detected until much later in life.

Here, read on for 8 health risks of childhood obesity—and why they matter. 

1. Type-2 diabetes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the immediate health risks of childhood obesity include higher than normal blood glucose levels (known as impaired glucose tolerance), insulin resistance, a condition in which the cells cannot use insulin effectively, and type-2 diabetes.

A condition previously only seen in adults, today, cases of type-2 diabetes in kids are on the rise.

According to an April 2017 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the rate of newly diagnosed cases of type-2 diabetes in children between ages 10 and 19 increased by 4.8 percent.

2. Cardiovascular and heart disease

Children who are obese have risk factors for cardiovascular disease including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and problems with blood glucose tolerance.

In fact, a 2007 study in the Journal of Pediatrics of 5-17-year-olds found that approximately 70 percent of kids have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 39 percent had two or more.

What’s more, according to an October 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, children and teens with the most severe obesity also had worse cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

3. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a build up of extra fat in the liver cells not caused by drinking alcohol  has become an epidemic among adults in the U.S.

Yet in recent years, more children than ever are also being diagnosed. Studies show up 38 percent of obese children have NAFLD, a 2.7 fold increase since the 1980’s.

NAFLD is also the most common cause of liver disease in children.

Although it’s unclear of the causes, NAFLD is associated with insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes and high cholesterol, and obesity is a risk factor.

Since NAFLD rarely has any symptoms, it’s been dubbed a silent killer. If fat continues to accumulate, it can progress to non-alcoholic steatosis

(NASH), which causes inflammation and liver cell damage, cirrhosis of the liver and liver failure.

4. Asthma

Approximately 9 million children in the U.S. have asthma, a disease which causes the airways to become sore and swollen and causes symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and trouble breathing.

Experts say childhood obesity may play a role.

In fact, a December 2018 study in the journal Pediatrics suggests childhood obesity increases the risk for childhood asthma by 30 percent. Kids who were overweight also had a 17 percent increased risk for asthma.

Although the study doesn’t prove that obesity causes asthma, research suggests weight loss can improve or reverse it. A January 2019 systematic review in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society found obese children who lost weight may improve their asthma.

5. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

According to the National Sleep Foundation, between 1 and 10 percent of kids have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition that causes symptoms like snoring, restless sleep, pauses in breathing and bedwetting.

Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart trouble, poor weight gain, learning problems and behavioral problems.

There are several risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea, and one is childhood obesity. Studies show up to 60 percent of kids who are obese also have sleep apnea.

The reason is that the tonsils become enlarged from fatty tissues in the upper airway, and fat deposits in the neck and chest encourage the airways to collapse during sleep, Lisa Shives, M.D., said in this article.

6. Joint problems

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, kids who are obese can have problems with the growth and health of their bones, joints and muscles.

Excess weight can damage the growth plates, and alter the length and shape of the bones when they’re fully grown. Being overweight also ups the risk for premature arthritis, broken bones and other serious conditions.

In fact, an October 2018 study out of the U.K. suggests that raising rates of obesity are leading more teens to develop Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE), a debilitating hip disease that requires surgery and can cause lifelong disability.

7. Mental Illness

In the U.S., mental illness is a serious issue for all kids, but kids with obesity in particular  are more likely to be at risk for emotional problems that last into adulthood.

In fact, a 2006 study in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care found obese teens were more likely to have anxiety, depression and low self-esteem than those who had a normal weight.

Of course, the stigma associated with being overweight, social discrimination and bullying all impact an overweight child’s self esteem and confidence.

8. Obesity into adulthood

There’s no question that kids who are obese are more likely to stay overweight into adulthood and face the same heath risks, but those risk factors are also likely to be more severe

Although there’s a clear link between obesity and cancer, research suggests that childhood obesity rates are also causing more young adults to get cancer.

According to a March 2018 study in the journal Obesity, certain types of cancer that were previously seen in adults over 50 such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer and thyroid cancer, are now being diagnosed in younger adults (as young as 20), and childhood obesity rates may be to blame.

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.

9 Best Meatless Protein-Rich Foods For Kids (+Recipes!)

9 Best Meatless Protein-Rich Foods For Kids (+Recipes!)

Protein is an essential macronutrient that’s found in every cell of the body and is vital for building muscle, strengthening skin and bones, producing hormones, and transporting nutrients.

Although everyone needs it in their diets, kids in particular must get adequate levels of protein to support their rapid growth and development.

What’s more, eating meals with a combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats promotes feelings of satiety, staves off hunger, keeps blood sugar levels steady and can prevent overeating.

According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, protein needs for kids vary by age and gender:

  • Children between 1 and 3-years-old: 13 grams of protein each day
  • Children between 4 and 8-years-old: 19 grams of protein each day
  • Children between 9 and 13-years-old: 34 grams of protein each day
  • Girls between 14 and 18-years-old: 46 grams of protein each day
  • Boys between 14 and 18-years-old: 52 grams of protein each day

Whether your kids are vegetarian or you’re cutting back on meat and trying to get more plant-based foods in their diets, here are some of the best meatless protein-rich foods for kids, plus healthy and delicious recipes to try.

1. Quinoa

A gluten-free, whole grain carbohydrate, a 1/2 cup of quinoa has more than 4 grams of protein. Quinoa is also high in fiber and a good source of B vitamins and magnesium.

A great substitute for rice and pasta, quinoa can also be served as a side dish, added to salads, incorporated into soups, stew, or chili, or even served for breakfast.

Try this recipe: Apple Quinoa Breakfast Muffins Perfect for Busy Mornings

2. Lentils

With 9 grams of protein in every 1/2 cup, lentils are one of the best meatless protein-rich foods for kids.

Since they’re also high in fiber, they keep blood sugar levels steady and are super filling.

Use lentils to make a vegetarian chili, lentil soup or meatless burgers.

Try this recipe: Lentil-Chickpea Veggie Burgers With Avocado Green Harissa

3. Eggs

In March, a new study came out, once again suggesting that eating eggs is linked to heart disease and premature death.

But experts say—and I agree—there’s no need to avoid them.

With nearly 30 grams of protein in one large egg, plus several key nutrients like potassium, vitamin D, B vitamins, lutein and omega-3 fatty acids, eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

Scrambled for breakfast, in a quiche or frittata for lunch, or hard-boiled for snacks when you’re on the go, eggs are a food you can always find a place for in your kid’s diet.

Try this recipe: Egg and Bacon Muffin Cups

4. Pumpkin seeds

With more than 5 grams of protein in one ounce, plus magnesium and zinc, pumpkin seeds are a great addition to your kid’s diet.

Pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that converts to serotonin, a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for sleep and a happy mood.

Add pumpkin seeds to breads and muffins, on top of yogurt or in homemade granola.

Try this recipe: Vegan Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta

5. Green peas

Serve them in meals or as a snack, these little green gems are also a perfect first food for babies.

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

Try this recipe: Best Ever and Kid-Friendly Easy Split Pea Soup

6. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are a superfood and high in protein: 1 ounce has more than 4 grams.

They’re also a great source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and phosphorous.

Add chia seeds to smoothies, pancake batter, overnight oats, and breads and muffins.

Try this recipe: Overnight Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

7. Chickpeas

All beans are excellent sources of protein, but chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) in particular, stand out. With nearly 9 grams of protein in one cup, chickpeas also high in fiber and folate.

Pair chickpeas with brown rice, add them to salads or make your own hummus.

Try this recipe: Roasted Chickpea Snack

8. Peanut butter

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

Top toast with peanut butter, add it into breakfast smoothies or mix with Greek yogurt for a healthy dip.

Try this recipe: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Balls

9. Tempeh

Made with fermented soybeans, tempeh is an excellent source of protein: one ounce has 5 grams.

Tempeh is also high in calcium—a good thing if your kids don’t drink milk or you’re avoiding dairy—and rich in probiotics, the healthy bacteria that strengthen your kid’s immune system

Although tempeh is a great swap for meat in almost any dish, it shouldn’t be a regular food in your kid’s diet.

Since high amounts of soy in a child’s diet is linked to a Kawasaki disease, a serious autoimmune condition that can cause damage to the heart, experts say babies under 1 should avoid consuming foods with soy and older kids should consume soy in moderation.

Try this: Easy Baked BBQ Tempeh

What are some of your kid’s favorite meatless protein-rich foods?  Let me know in the comments!

[VIDEO] 6 Reasons Your Kid Won’t Eat At Meals

[VIDEO] 6 Reasons Your Kid Won’t Eat At Meals

Although there are some kids who will eat anything you put in front of them no matter how new or exotic, all kids at some point will snub a vegetable, turn their noses up at what’s being served or flat out refuse to eat dinner.

As a parent, it’s incredibly frustrating to spend time cooking dinner only to hear “ew!” “yuck!” or “I’m not eating that!”

Take heed, mama.

It’s normal for kids not to eat meals from time to time. Sometimes they’re legitimately not hungry or they really may not like what you’re serving—kids have their own food preferences just like we do.

If your kids consistently push food around their plates, take 2 bites and declare, I’m done, or it seems like they’re never hungry no matter how hard you try, there are some possible reasons for their behaviors. Here are 6.

Short on time? Learn the top 3 most common reasons in this quick video.

1. Too many snacks

If your kid won’t eat at meals, it’s possible that he’s filling up on too many snacks throughout the day.

In fact, according to a March 2010 study in Health Affairs, kids eat snacks 3 times a day and consume up to 600 calories from foods like chips, crackers and candy.

Although there’s no hard and fast rule about how often kids should snack, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest toddlers need 2 to 3 snacks a day, while pre-schoolers need 1 to 2 snacks per day—healthy snacks that give them the nutrition they need.

If you cut back on the amount of snacks but you still find that your kid isn’t eating meals, consider making snacks smaller, adjusting the time between meals and snacks, or eliminating snack all together.

Also, instead of allowing kids to graze all day, have structured snack times and try to avoid snacks in the stroller or in the car when kids are more likely to eat mindlessly and overeat.

2. Pressure tactics

We all want our kids to eat enough and we worry when they won’t eat, but putting pressure on kids can create power struggles and make your kids less likely to eat their meals.

Instead of begging, pleading and negotiating, take a step back and be patient.

Let your kids decide if they want to eat, what they want to eat (among the choices you provide) and how much.

In order for kids to feel empowered to make their own choices, they need plenty of opportunities to touch, smell and taste their food and develop their own food preferences instead of being forced to eat something you think they should have.

3. Food ruts

Serving the same foods over and over can keep your family on track with healthy eating and help you get meals on the table in a pinch, but when the habit turns into a food rut, kids will be less likely to eat at meals.

I’ll admit: I’m totally guilty of this.

To make my life easier and encourage my kids to eat healthy, my husband and I pack lentils almost every day for lunch, serve salmon most Mondays and make eggs almost everyday for breakfast.

Lately, I’ve realized that although my kids actually like eating the foods we serve, they’re probably bored—and I was right.

To my surprise however, they didn’t want pizza or chicken nuggets—mixing up lunch a bit with a sandwich with salmon salad was just fine.

When you can carve out some time, try a new recipe, a different cooking method or cook with a new spice to change things up a bit. Or, transform old standby meals, so instead of roasted chicken, make chicken roll ups, chicken soup or chicken enchiladas, for example.

4. Changes in appetite

Just because it’s meal time, doesn’t mean your kid will be hungry.

Toddlers in particular can be really fussy eaters and more interested in playing than eating too.

After the first birthday, a child’s growth isn’t as rapid as it was during the first year of life. Although they continue to grow at a slow, steady rate and they’re moving a lot more, their appetites may slow down making them not as hungry at meals as they once were.

As long as your child’s growth trends are progressing at a healthy rate, you shouldn’t worry.

However, if your child’s lack of appetite seems extreme, it’s always a good idea to talk to the pediatrician to rule out a medical condition or another issue.

5. Portions are too large

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned when it comes to feeding my kids is that kids aren’t adults and they don’t need as much food as we do.

Kids shouldn’t be expected to clean their plates—like adults, they should eat until they’re no longer hungry, instead of eating until they’re full.

You may also be surprised what a healthy portion is. For toddlers, the AAP says one serving of vegetables is equal to one tablespoon for each year of age, for example.

For more specific recommendations, check out Super Healthy Kids’ My Plate Guide to Portion Sizes.

6. Too much milk, juice and sugary drinks

If your kid won’t eat at meals, it’s important to take a look at what he’s drinking.

Although milk is a good source of calcium and protein, filling up on too much can prevent him from being hungry for real food at meal time.

The AAP recommends 2 cups of milk for kids between 1 and 8-years-old and 3 cups for kids between 9 and 18-years-old.

Sipping on juice can also displace calories in your child’s diet.

According to the new AAP guidelines for fruit juice in kids’ diets, kids under age 1 shouldn’t drink juice.

For toddlers between 1 and 3, juice should be limited to 4 ounces a day; children ages 4-6 should have no more than 4 to 6 ounces; and children ages 7-18 should limit juice to 8 ounces—if you’re going to serve it.

All kids should avoid soda, sugar-sweetened drinks and energy drinks.

Although the AAP says sports drinks can be helpful for young kids who are engaged in prolonged, vigorous sports, they’re usually unnecessary and plain H2O is just fine.

Do you have a kid who won’t eat at meals? What have you found that helps? Let me know in the comments section! 

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.

7 Ways to Get Your Kids To Eat a Healthy Breakfast

7 Ways to Get Your Kids To Eat a Healthy Breakfast

You’ve heard the old saying, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but when it comes to our kids, most don’t eat it.

According to an August 2017 study in the British Journal of Nutrition, only about one-third of kids eat breakfast every day, 17 percent never eat breakfast and the rest only eat breakfast a fews days a week.

If your kid doesn’t like to eat first thing in the morning, doesn’t have time for breakfast or doesn’t like what you’re serving, don’t give up.

Here, learn some simple strategies to get your kids to eat a healthy breakfast every day.

1. Make breakfast family time

If you’re rushed in the morning to get your kids out the door and they’re feeling the pressure, they may feel too anxious to eat breakfast.

Instead of stressing out, carve out enough time for breakfast, even if it means the beds don’t get made or the dishes are left in the sink.

You can also make breakfast an opportunity to spend some quality time as a family together, especially if you don’t eat dinner as a family.

Read a Bible verse, ask your kids what they’re grateful for, or talk about your plans for the weekend. 

2. Don’t eat a late dinner

After-school activities can make it tough to eat dinner on time, but if your kids are eating dinner late, they may not be hungry for breakfast.

Try to feed your kids before you head out to activities and discourage after-dinner snacking so they’ll have an appetite come morning.

3. Do some easy meal prep

If there’s no time to make breakfast in the morning, make it ahead of time.

Set aside individual re-sealable bags of fruits and veggies for smoothies, make overnight oats or parfaits in mason jars, boil a batch of hard-boiled eggs, or make a frittata, egg casserole, or egg “muffins” at the beginning of the week or the night before. 

4. Let them decide

Cereal and toast are easy options for breakfast but if your kid is more likely to eat leftovers for breakfast, then go with it.

Pair a protein with veggies or a piece of fruit, serve soup, or mix leftover rice with coconut milk, nuts, cinnamon and a drizzle of honey to break out of the breakfast rut.

Another way to give kids choices is to make something easy like oatmeal, and then let your kid choose the spices, nuts, seeds, and fresh or dried fruit.

5. Wake up earlier

Little kids are up early anyway, but if your kids are older and they like to sleep in until the last possible minute, they probably don’t eat breakfast because there’s no time.

An easy fix? Try moving their bedtime back a half an hour or so until they can wake up in time.

6. Take the lead

No surprise here, but only 47 percent of adults in the U.S. eat breakfast every day, according to a 2015 survey by Instantly.

Although you may think mornings are hectic enough, carving out time to eat a healthy breakfast may encourage your kids to do the same.

7. Serve a morning snack

If your kid isn’t a breakfast eater, stick to small bites.

Serve 4 or 6 ounces of a green smoothie, apple slices with almond butter, mini muffins, energy bites or raw vegetables with hummus.

What are some of your tricks to get your kids to eat a healthy breakfast? Let me know in the comments.

7 Nutrition Mistakes All Parents Make

7 Nutrition Mistakes All Parents Make

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.

We all want our kids to eat healthy, but between food marketing, brands that tout health claims and some outdated advice from experts, deciding what to feed your kids and what to avoid can be challenging.

Although most of us are well intentioned and try our best to offer healthy foods, there are still some common nutrition mistakes all parents make that can affect kids’ health now, and well into the future. Here are 7.

Nutrition mistake #1: Serving only “breakfast foods” for breakfast

Let’s face it: if you have young kids, mornings are stressful.

I get it.

Most mornings, I’m up at 5am to pray, read a devotional and enjoy a cup of coffee—and quiet—before my kids get up.

Once they’re awake however, it’s always a mad rush to feed them breakfast, get them ready and on the bus.

Cereal and toast are definitely easy and quick options for breakfast, but serving the same ‘ol breakfast foods every day can be a missed opportunity to get nutrition into your kid’s diet. Not to mention—it can get boring.

If you think out of the [breakfast] box and offer new types of foods, kids can also become healthier, more adventurous eaters.

Since lunch and dinner may be the only time kids are offered vegetables, breakfast is another chance to get them into your kid’s diet. The more you offer vegetables, the more likely your kid will be to eat them.

It’s not necessary to re-invent the wheel every day, but try to change things up a few times a week. Add leftover veggies to scrambled eggs, make chia seed or pumpkin pudding the night before, pull together a bean burrito or serve baked tempeh instead of toast, for example. 

 

 

 

Nutrition mistake #2: Filling up on processed snacks

 

We must recognize that our kids are growing—physically, mentally and emotionally—and what we feed them should be real, whole foods packed with nutrition to fuel that growth.

Bags of crackers, chips, cookies and other snack foods are easy to throw in a lunch box or pack when you’re on the go.

But processed snacks are usually made with refined carbohydrates and are high in sugar, sodium and artificial ingredients. They also lack the protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals kids need.

Do your best to avoid processed foods and instead, stick to whole foods for snacks. For ideas, check out my blog post, Healthy Kids’ Snacks 101: When, What and How Much

 

 

 

Nutrition mistake #3: Thinking all yogurt is healthy

 

 

Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, which promotes satiety and can prevent weight gain. It’s also a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12 as well as probiotics, the healthy bacteria that boost kids’ gut health and strengthens their immune systems.

Yet many yogurts, those that are marketed to kids or otherwise, are also sneaky sources of sugar.

Yogurts with pretzels, candy and crushed cookies are obvious sources, but those that are blended with fruit can also be high in sugar.

Read labels carefully and stick to brands with less than 11 grams of sugar, according to nutritionist Joy Bauer.

Siggi’s is one of my favorites for kids. Or serve plain Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit for a hint of sweetness and fiber.

 

 

Nutrition mistake #4: Missing sneaky sources of sugar

 

 

You already know to limit foods that are obvious sources of sugar like candy, cookies and ice cream, but sugar is sneaky and can hide behind at least 61 different names like fruit juice, cane sugar, sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.

Foods like dried fruit, canned fruit and fruit cups, salad dressings, BBQ sauce, ketchup, juice, sports drinks, granola, instant oatmeal and cereal can all be sneaky sources of sugar.

 

 

Nutrition mistake #5: Avoiding all types of fat

 

 

Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the U.S. and as a result, parents are consistently told to limit the amount of fat in their kids’ diets and serve low-fat dairy and lean cuts of meat, for example.

Although experts say trans fats and some saturated fats should be avoided, foods with healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats from whole foods like fish, avocado, nuts and seeds and olive oil are all essential to kids health.

 

 

Nutrition mistake #6: Labeling foods “good” or “bad”

 

 

Labeling foods “good” or “bad” can turn mealtime into a power struggle and make your kid want the poor choices even more.

Teaching kids about healthy eating includes teaching balance. So although there are healthier choices, it’s OK to indulge in sweets and junk food.

When food is off limits, it can also create the same unhealthy eating habits many adults struggle with down the line.

Instead, talk to your children about making healthy choices and why they matter. For example, choosing celery sticks with almond butter will give your kid the energy she needs for sports while a bag of crackers will cause her to crash.

 

 

Nutrition mistake #7: Cutting carbs

 

 

Low carb diets like keto are all the rage for people looking to lose weight, but cutting some carbohydrates from a kid’s diet is a nutrition mistake. Check out my blog post, Is Keto Safe For Kids?

Refined carbohydrates like those found in white breads, pastas and rice and processed foods should be limited because they break down into simple sugars easily, cause blood sugar levels to spike and don’t satiate hunger—which might be one of the reasons your kid is always hungry.

Complex carbohydrates on the other hand, provide kids with the energy they need and support their muscle growth and brain development. They also take longer to break down, which keeps blood sugar levels steady.

Complex carbs are also high in fiber which satisfy hunger and prevent constipation.

Offer a variety of foods with complex carbohydrates including vegetables like pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes, fruits like berries, apples and pears, beans and legumes and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa which are also high in B vitamins, magnesium and iron.

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.