By: Trisha Bautista
We hear the word “superfood” being thrown around a lot, especially among this generation’s health-conscious consumers. Recognizing this demand, many products are sold on the pretext of being “healthy” or “organic”, while packing many hidden and not-so-healthy ingredients.
According to the American Heart Association, “superfoods are natural, whole foods that are good for your heart and overall health when incorporated into a healthy diet that’s balanced in lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk and dairy products.”
In other words, there’s no “official” list of superfoods, but there are certain foods that are quite “super”—thanks to the amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they naturally have. Here’s our list of well-known, easy-to-find “superfoods.” We explain why they deserve this name, and how to incorporate them into your children’s meals.
High in fiber, antioxidants, and tons of other nutrients, this healthy staple promotes good digestion and can improve your metabolism. Serve it with fresh fruits or use a ground version to substitute flour for healthier baked goods. Oatmeal is filled with soluble fiber, so it can keep your kids full and energized for long days.
Quinoa is a grain-like seed that packs nutritional punch. The texture is similar to rice or couscous, and is great alternative for rice. Quinoa is one of the only grain variants that provides all of the nine essential amino acids that our bodies need and are packed with protein. Serve it as a rice substitute, or incorporate it into cookies and muffins.
Chia is another super-nutritious seed that has been used as a nutrition source since the days of the Aztecs. They’re also loaded with essential fatty acids, as well as magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. When soaked in milk, chia seeds swell up to become similar to tapioca, making it perfect for a nutritious and tasty pudding. Soak chia seeds in milk or even chocolate milk overnight and serve for breakfast.
This super-nutritious vegetable is packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium, and fiber, but is most notably high in vitamin C. Broccoli also contains more protein than most other vegetables. It is super easy to prepare (quick steaming softens it but preserves most of its nutrients) and it is easy to introduce to children at a young age. As soon as they start self-feeding, broccoli can be introduced as “little trees”, and babies who are developing their grip will easily be able to hold the stems while eating the soft “leafy” part.
Like its cruciferous cousin broccoli, cauliflower also packs a nutritional punch. It’s high in vitamin C and fiber, too, and it’s great as a rice pairing or substitute. Diced cauliflower “rice” is popular among healthy food enthusiasts because the texture is similar to rice. Chop cauliflower in a processor (or by hand) into tiny pieces resembling rice, and sauté quickly with onions for flavor for a quick rice alternative. If you’re introducing it to kids who aren’t too fond of vegetables, cauliflower can also be a great alternative to macaroni. Cook cauliflower as the macaroni in your go-to mac and cheese recipe—kids who love cheese will barely notice the difference!
Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are some of the most nutritious fruits in the spectrum. Just one cup of strawberries can give you your daily recommended vitamin C requirement, and the berry family is known to be high in antioxidants that help our cells build and recover faster. Strawberries in particular are said to be great for regulating blood sugar levels when consumed with high-carb foods. Serve as finger food and snacks (the fresher, the better!) instead of processed crackers and biscuits, to make fruit a regular part of your child’s day.
Trisha Bautista is a writer, editor, and PR practitioner with articles published in many of the country’s top magazines and lifestyle websites. She’s a mother to an eight months-old baby boy, and is constantly trying to find the time to stay fit and healthy while balancing married life, motherhood, career, and a social life. She enjoys discovering health, fitness, beauty, and shopping hacks to maximize time and money, and loves the occasional wine night.