“Eat your vegetables!” is a familiar refrain of parents the world over. When I was a young girl in Southeast Asia, my father insisted I eat my vegetables. He was a doctor and he knew the power of eating whole, fresh foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Today, I see so many quick-service restaurants offering meat and cheese and bread (pizza, hamburgers, mac & cheese, chicken nuggets) but no cooked vegetables. It’s distressing. And although some fast-food chains now offer salads, many kids don’t really enjoy eating them. So what is a parent to do?
For children to get the benefits of nutrient-rich foods, first they have to want to eat them. Tomatoes are an obvious favorite because of their lycopene content which is high in antioxidants. Another, less-obvious antioxidant-rich food is pomegranates. If you have time to seed these large red globes, kids will eat the seeds right up. One of my friends calls pomegranate seeds “nature’s Skittles” because they’re so sweet and compact and fun to eat.
Flaxseeds promote healthy skin, hair, and nails. Try sprinkling them in oatmeal, or topping mac & cheese with a breadcrumb-flaxseed mixture for a nice crunch. Flaxseeds can also be mixed into granola and then layered in a cup with yogurt and raisins, another kid-friendly food high in antioxidants and resveratrol. Organic apples are also an obvious and wonderful food that kids love. All varieties of apples contain quercitin, a compound that helps support the immune system, therefore keeping the doctor away.
Small fingers also enjoy grasping blueberries and popping them into little mouths. Fresh, organic blueberries are a perfect treat because they are so full of antioxidants and vitamin C. Kids can enjoy them as a morning or afternoon snack, and they like the effect of blue teeth and fingers that inevitably results. If fresh blueberries are not in season, try using frozen organic blueberries in healthy beverages such as protein shakes or as a fun coloring agent. My Blueberry Hemp-Milk Smoothie recipe is easy to make with your kids. Many of my recipes have fewer than 7 steps and are kid-friendly.
2 cups hemp milk
2 cups fresh blueberries
Crushed ice (optional)
Combine the hemp milk, blueberries, and banana in a blender and mix until smooth, about 1 minute. For a cold drink, add crushed ice before blending.