We all know the importance of a balanced diet, but what makes a diet a balanced diet? If the food you are feeding your baby is full of all the nutrients that a child needs, then the diet is a balanced diet.(what are the essential nutrients for kids). According to research, most of the kids are deficient in important nutrients because of their food choices. This is a direct outcome of increased intake of processed and refined foods such as chips, cookies, pizza, burger, fries and carbonated drinks (What are the effects of junk foods on kids?). These foods not only have zero nutritive value but also have an undesired impact on the health of the child. Here is the list of some best foods for toddler and kids that you must include in your kids daily diet.
Best foods for toddler and kids
An apple a day keeps the doctor away! It’s not just a saying, it really works. Apple is high in antioxidants and fiber which supports higher immunity and better digestion ( What are antioxidants?). Avoid peeling the skin, that’s 50% source of fruit fiber and loaded with powerful antioxidants called polyphenol. Your child needs 15-20g of fiber in a day. Imagine getting 5g fiber just from an apple with the skin on. To rinse of the alleged pesticides from the top layer of the apple, I soak it in water for 20 minutes and rub it clean. You can also add Apple cider vinegar to rinse the apple. Apple is one of the best foods for toddler and kids. ( Benefits of eating apple )
Whole grains are nutritious foods for kids as they are powerhouse of energy and rich in carbohydrates, protein, iron, fiber, iodine, magnesium, zinc, folate, riboflavin and vitamin E. All these nutrients help in overall growth and development of kids. Whole grains are a great way to start the day for a toddler or young child. They are nutrient- dense, energy rich foods which make them ideal food for busy school going children. They help to maintain energy level and feeling of fullness for longer. Whole grain includes wheat, bulgur, oatmeal, quinoa, corn, barley and millet. As it contains dietary fibers, it also helps to maintain digestive health and contributes in preventing constipation. (Recipe of whole grain and millet pizza)
1 small bowl Sprouted moong daal:
This is the easiest form of sprouts which can get ready overnight. Sprouting makes our gut healthy and enables better absorption of vitamins and minerals by our body. Just with a small bowl your child gets 8g of fiber and 12 g of protein. With an apple and a bowl of sprouted dal you have covered nearly 100% fiber for your child and 50% protein. Purée sprouts to add to paratha dough or make Dosa or Cheela with it. (What are the health benefits of sprouting?)
They are a great source of good fat and many micronutrients which otherwise do not get covered in our daily home-cooked meals. 10-20g of nuts are sufficient for a child depending on their age/weight. If possible, add 1 brazilnut, which is a great source of selenium mineral which is not found easily in daily meals. Nuts are the best foods for toddler and kids. (How to get Selenium?)
150ml Yogurt or Kefir:
Yogurt is considered a carrier of both Probiotics and Prebiotics which keeps our gut healthy and immunity high that eventually results in less illness. It can be used plain or as a fruit smoothie. ( What are some foods supports healthy gut?)
1 slice Cheddar Cheese:
Cheese which is fermented and aged is a great source of good bacteria for the gut and also high in protein and calcium. I try to search for cheese which is at least 2 years aged.
2 tbsp Fresh or dried leaves:
Green leafy veggies are high in iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Use any form of green leafy veggies, either dried or boiled and puréed, to add to your kids paratha dough. I know this can be tricky but anything can hide behind a paratha!
With the amount of screen time the kids enjoy these days, it becomes imperative for them to safeguard their eyes. Beta carotene in carrot converts into Vitamin A and keeps the eyes healthy. Carrot is also loaded with phytochemicals which are excellent antioxidants and helps to keep the immunity levels high. Just with half a carrot, your child can meet 100% of daily requirement of Vitamin A.
If you have covered these 8 food items, you can rest assured that considerable amount of nutrition has been fed to your child.
I always keep grated carrot, sprouted beans, kefir, dried moringa (drustick) leaves handy to fold up in my kids’ paratha dough. Just by adding 10g of moringa leaves (dried) along with a slice of cheese and yogurt to their diet, your kids will meet 60% calcium requirement of the day.
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