Toddlers are at an age where they are very curious and their palettes are still developing. This is a perfect age to introduce your kids to a variety of nutritious foods before they get too fussy or start reaching for unhealthy options. It isn’t reasonable to assume that your little ones won’t ever be exposed to processed foods with empty calories.
With persistence and patience, your kids will begin to crave certain foods that you hope will be nutrient dense. Let’s take a look at some healthy foods toddlers are likely to gravitate towards that will support their growing bodies and immune systems.
1. Fresh Fruit
Fruit tops the list for healthy foods that kids really seem to like. They are mostly naturally sweet and colorful. Most fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and antioxidants.
Clementines are a wonderful source of vitamin C. And, they are very easy for toddlers to eat seedless segments.
Blueberries are eye-catching with their deep blue color. Blueberries are among the highest antioxidant fruits. Pack a baggy or a little storage cup and take them with you for a quick snack.
Apples are a good source of quality carbohydrates and fiber. For added protein, spread a little nut or seed butter on peeled apple slices. It is recommended that only organic apples be eaten, unless you peel the apples. Homemade applesauce is also a good choice.
Milk is something kids this age still like the taste of. Toddlers need high quality dairy to supply them with the calcium required for their constantly growing bones and teeth. You can blend milk with berries into a smoothie that is sweeter than plain milk.
Butter is a fat you should not be afraid of. Prepare vegetables with a pat of grass fed or cultured butter. This is a healthier fat than margarine. Kids need fat for organ health, especially their developing brains.
Yogurt, especially whole milk yogurt, is often enjoyed by children, especially if it is mixed with fruit. The probiotics in yogurt are essential for a properly functioning gastrointestinal tract. Try yogurt with fruit instead of ice cream for dessert.
Cheese can be a terrific source of protein. Try to avoid those American single slices, as these are not real cheese. Go ahead and give the kids real mozzarella string cheese, cubes of mild cheddar, and even cottage cheese.
3. Whole Grains
Rolled oats are a much better choice for breakfast than sugary boxed cereals. Oats are rich in B vitamins, fiber, and iron. Add some fresh milk, cinnamon, and a little pure maple syrup for enticing flavors.
Brown rice is preferable to white rice because it is full of fiber and the minerals manganese and selenium. Prepare rice in a congee fashion so that it is easier for toddlers to chew and digest. This is basically rice that is cooked in water or broth for a long time. A little butter and some salt is all you will need. Note that organic brown rice is best to avoid any possible chemical contamination.
Ezekiel bread is made from sprouted whole wheat that is much more nutrient dense than white bread. It is a good source of protein and fiber. This bread is a little nutty in flavor and is delicious when topped with an all-fruit spread or jelly. It also makes a golden grilled cheese sandwich.
4. Fresh Vegetables
Vegetables are often a tricky food group for young kids. You might have to sneak them into other foods so that your toddler isn’t put off. A steaming bowl of fresh spinach doesn’t generally get applause from kids.
Broccoli is exceptionally rich in both vitamin C and vitamin K, necessary for immunity. Surprisingly, kids often do enjoy broccoli, especially if they can eat the florets with their hands. Try steamed broccoli with teriyaki sauce. Or add some into mac and cheese.
Acorn squash is a good source of magnesium, iron, and vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for eye health. This winter squash is naturally sweet and soft when baked. Mash it with butter and a little pure maple syrup for a tasty vegetable.
Green peas are also naturally sweet and kids like to eat them either with their tiny fingers and pureed with a little cream cheese or butter. Peas are a healthy source of carbohydrates and they are loaded with vitamin C and minerals.
5. Animal Protein
Eggs are often considered a perfect food for children, provided there is not an allergy present. They are high in protein and healthy fat. Eggs contain many B vitamins, vitamin D, and selenium. Scrambled eggs are what many kids like, especially if you add a little cheese.
Fish is the best way to get some omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12, and minerals into your toddler’s diet. You can make fish patties or breaded fish sticks with a dipping sauce to get the little ones to eat more of this protein.
Turkey has phosphorous that is necessary for bone development. It also contains tryptophan, an important substance that helps to regulate serotonin levels, resulting in improved mood and better sleep. A great way to incorporate turkey into your child’s diet is to make ground turkey meatballs served with pasta.
We all know that toddlers can be finicky eaters. Often, there is no rhyme or reason. Sometimes it is the appearance or smell of the food. If you are struggling with getting your kids to eat healthy foods, try some of the food and preparation suggestions outlined here. Remember to pick and choose your battles and be gentle with yourself and your child.