Monday, May 25, 2015

5 kid-friendly food additions to boost nutrition

From Chia to Cacao, there are a few things that you can use to add more nutrition to your family meals without messing with the taste. Learn how use them here.

5 kid-friendly food additions to boost nutrition

From Chia to Cacao, there are a few things that you can use to add more nutrition to your family meals without messing with the taste.
From Chia to Cacao, there are a few things that you can use to add more nutrition to your family meals without messing with the taste. iStock

These days, I think we’ve all wary of the term “food additives.” But the following additions below will give your family’s diet a little healthy boost.  From Chia to Cacao, there are a few things that you can use to add more nutrition to your family meals without messing with the taste. 

1. Chia Seeds: This edible, unprocessed seed with a mild, nutty flavor, will help provide a boost of fiber, protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acid intake. Unlike flax (see below), these seeds can be eaten in their whole form. 

Add (1 tablespoon) seeds to: waffle, pancake, and muffin mixes, rice dishes, and cereals.

2. Flax Seeds: These seeds have gained some significant popularity in recent years, and for good reason.  Research suggests that these seeds have anti-cancer properties, reduce inflammation, and can help protect the cardiovascular system.  Flax seeds need to be ground in order to be digested, so buy them ground or use a coffee grinder if you buy them whole . 

Add ground flax to: smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, stews, meatballs, and sauces, or substitute ¼ cup for flour in baking recipes. 
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3. Almonds: Full of fiber, protein, and vitamin E, these nuts are one of my favorite to add to many recipes.  Their mild flavor makes them more palatable to kids, while their vitamins and minerals have both heart health and anti-cancer properties. 

Add whole almonds to:  trail mixes
Sliced to: cereals and muffins
Ground to: breadcrumb mixes and yogurt
One of my favorite new recipes to use almonds is in these chicken fingers.

4. Cacao:  Have a moody teenager?  Offer up some cacao nibs.  Cacao nibs are the unprocessed, healthier alternative to dark and milk chocolate, and they offer a host of nutritious benefits.  They have magnesium for muscle and bone function, fiber, iron, and can send some pleasant messages to our brain that may even help boost our mood. 

Add cacao nibs to: baked goods, trail mix, and cereal or snack on a few by themselves.

5. Greek Yogurt:  Many parents know that Greek yogurt contains more protein than its regular counterpart, but did you know it’s better for your child’s digestive tract, too?  Greek yogurt contains more probiotics than the processed kiddie-versions, which helps to promote the good bacteria in their tummies, and keeps the bad bacteria out.  Another bonus?  It is an excellent source of calcium, and has less lactose for those sensitive tummies. 

Add it to: everything that needs a little extra flavor!  Mix it into hummus or with avocado for a creamy veggie dip.  Put it in the fridge with oats and fruit for “overnight oats,” or freeze it for a DIY popsicle

Add one, or a few, of these to your family’s meals and snacks daily, and you can rest easy that you are making the most of their nutrition. 


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Registered Dietitian at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
About this blog
The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Beth Wallace Smith, R.D. Registered Dietitian at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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