Hi folks! Hope your weekend is off to a happy, healthy start! It is a difficult time for us all with the coronavirus outbreak, and more important than ever that we pay attention to proper nutrition to keep our immunity in top shape!
If you’ve been following us on social media for a while, you will have heard us refer to superfoods and the importance of including them in our diet. You may have also wondered what this term really means.
The term “superfood” is a new-age term referring to foods that offer maximum health benefits. Although there is no standardised criteria or definition to classify what makes these foods “super”, there is no denying that they pack a nutritional punch as they are rich sources of important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also a great way to help us meet our nutritional RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance)!
The list of superfoods easily runs into hundreds. Each culture and geography has unique foods that are considered superfoods – from fruit and vegetables, to nuts, seeds, legumes and even spices!
Here are six of my favourite kid-friendly super (good) foods that are easily found in Singapore. I also have suggestions on how to incorporate them into your child and family’s diet!
I have to begin my list of superfoods with one of my personal favourites…the Avocado. This fruit (yes it is a fruit, not a veggie!) is full of monounsaturated fats, i.e. the “good” fats that kids need in their diet every day. Monounsaturated fats are important for kids’ growth including their brain development and eye health.
There are so many delicious ways to offer avocado to your child! Dips (guacamole) or diced into a kid-friendly salad are the easiest ways to offer this fruit to your child. But we have a few clever tricks up our sleeves for the picky eaters!
#1 Add avocado cubes to a banana chocolate smoothie
#2 Bake with avocados, they’re an excellent alternative to butter in vegan cupcakes or muffins! Here an easy recipe for Chocolate-Avo cupcakes from one of my old blogs!
#3 Puree avocado with mangoes and plant-based milk of choice with a dash of honey or maple syrup. Pour into a mould to make yummy popsicles!
Berries are what I like to call nature’s candy! These delicious fruits are loaded with antioxidants that protects our cells from oxidative stress.
They are also high in fibre, rich in vitamins and minerals, fight inflammation and improve blood sugar and insulin response.
Fortunately, most kids enjoy eating berries just on their own, but here are a few more ways to use these nutritional powerhouses in yummy recipes!
#1 Make a 10 min home-made Jam. This recipe combines two of my favourite superfoods – berries and chia seeds!
#2 Popsicles… It’s a no brainer really, but berries pureed with watermelon, frozen into popsicles are literally the most satisfying way to cool off in sunny Singapore!
3. BEANS & LENTILS
Beans and lentils are fantastic sources of plant-based protein. They are high in fibre and release glucose slowly, which stabilise mood and energy. Beans contain insoluble fibre (which lowers cholesterol) soluble fibre, which provides a longer feeling of fullness; and loads of vitamins and trace minerals that are essential for growing bodies.
Some kid-friendly ways to enjoy beans are:
#1 Kid-friendly chickpea curry using mild spices. I love this easy delicious recipe by Kanchan from Spice Spice Baby.
#2 Mixed bean hummus. Use a mix of beans like kidney beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans to whip up a creamy kid-friendly hummus! Perfect for little hands to dunk their veggies or crackers into!
#3 Vegan Omelette – Yep, it’s a thing. Our Indian readers will know this as a “cheela” that is made using bean or lentil flour. Check this cool recipe for a veggie loaded version!
#4 Dessert... YES! You read that right! Beans are an excellant gluten-free alternative in baked goods! Find that hard to believe? OMG you have to then try out our crazy good Blackbean brownies!
4. CHIA SEEDS
Chia seeds have become super popular among health and fitness enthusiasts. These tiny seeds contain large amounts of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, plenty of high-quality protein, and several essential minerals and antioxidants.
One fun-fact about chia seeds that my 7yo loves, is that Chia seeds were once used as currency! The Aztecs thought so highly of these nutrional powerhouses, that they were often used as legal tender and conquered nations would pay their Aztec rulers in chia seeds!
#1 Make home-made gummies or jello using chia seeds! Curious to try these out for your kids? Here's an easy recipe from our blog!
#2 Add chia seeds to overnight oats for a power packed breakfast for the entire fam!
#3 Got a fussy kid who just won’t accept chia seeds in jam or overnight oats? We have one super clever trick up our sleeve which no child can resist…Delicious cookies! Our Almond & Chia Seed Cookies are a great place to start! Be sure to add these to your next order!
5. LEAFY GREENS
We've all heard about the nutritional superiority of greens. They're rich in iron, calcium, fibre, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and folate. In short – they’re one of the healthiest foods nature has provided.
Leafy greens are unfortunately for many kids, the ultimate enemy. Parents struggle to get their little ones to eat them. Expecting the kids to eat their greens after watching Popeye chomp down a can of spinach is a bit much, so here are some clever ways to serve leafy greens to your family!
#1 Add greens like baby spinach to smoothies (tip: freeze washed, dried leaves for 20-30 mins to make them blend smoothly). We have many names for green smoothies in our home – Dino smoothie, The incredible hulk, Monster slush and even Shrek’s swamp!
#2 Bake leafy greens like kale into crispy chips! This is seriously delicious! I promise.
#3 Blanch and puree greens like spinach, rocket, or watercress, and add to your favourite basic curried chicken recipe.
#4 We’ve added leafy greens to two of our best-selling products… our Baked Chicken Meatballs and Spinach Pesto Mini Pizza, both of which contain fresh spinach! They are easy delicious ways to get kiddos to eat their greens without any of the fuss!
6. NUTS & SEEDS
Packed with protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, nuts and seeds may boost the mood and keep your nervous system in check. Nuts and seeds are great options to consider for snack boxes. Many schools in Singapore are nut-free as these are also a very common allergen; so mixed seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia or hemp seeds are all great options to consider.
Here are some easy, healthy and safe ways to offer nuts and seeds to kids:
#1 Home-made nut and seed milks are a delicious option for kids of all ages. Store-bought versions are expensive and contain a very small percentage of actual nuts or seeds. They also contain thickeners such as carrageenan, which have been linked to inflammation, bloating, IBS, food allergies and even colon cancer. Bottom line – Read the label if purchasing store bought options or make your own!
#2 Add nuts and seeds to home-made granola or mixed seed clusters
#3 Nut or seed butters! Peanut butter is a popular nut butter, but even pistachio, walnuts, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, all can be roasted and turned into delicious “butter” to spread on morning toast!
Here's wishing you good health and happiness!