Studies have shown that starting children off eating healthy early in life will help to keep them eating healthy later on. It also decreases their chances of obesity, childhood diabetes, attention disorders and many diseases. Here are four easy and healthy meal ideas for little ones, but they’re so good you might want to eat them too, and not just for taste. This study shows that the biggest factor for what children eat is what they see their parents eat.
My little guy just turned one so he has been eating for a few months now. I’ve received questions on my Instagram about what I feed him so I thought I’d share some of his favorites. One thing I keep in mind for my son’s meals is to make sure I have a healthy source of fat, carbohydrate and plant protein. Eating healthy fats like avocado, nut or seed butters have shown to help brain development plus good fats also help the body more efficiently absorb nutrients.
Banana and Almond butter
This is a quick and easy breakfast that my son has almost every morning. Right now, he is a huge fan of banana. I always make sure the banana is ripe (lots of brown spots) because that’s when they are truly ready to eat. It’s harder for our bodies to digest bananas when they are still green or don’t have their ripened spots yet. My son hasn’t been constipated once! Then, I give him small bites of almond butter on his spoon as this provides his good fat and protein. Make sure your child does not have a nut allergy before feeding them nut butters. If your child has a nut allergy, a seed butter like sunflower butter would be a better option.
If he is still hungry and wanting more I’ll give him other fruits like berries, which are great for teaching them how to pick things up, helping develop good motor skills. Always make sure to cut the round fruits, like blueberries or grapes, in half before serving it to your little one so they don’t choke. Whatever he doesn’t eat I usually add to my oatmeal.
Avocado and Beans
Avocado is one the best fats we can all eat. I am a huge fan of avocado mash, and so is my son. Both of us usually eat it when I make it for lunch but I’m the only one that eats it on toast or these rounds. My son will eat avocado on its own but I like to add in spices, not only to flavor it up, but also to get in more nutritional health benefits for him. I’ll add a tiny bit of turmeric for its great anti-inflammatory properties, but also as it’s be shown to help prevent colds. Nutritional yeast is another one I mix in because it’s a great source of B-12 and other vitamins as well as being another seasoning that has shown to prevent the common cold in kids.
The beans make a yummy pair with the avocado. I’m lucky my son is a bean fan as they are one of the healthiest foods we can eat. They are a great source of protein and fiber. Black beans and garbanzo beans seem to be my son’s favorite. I squish them with my fingers to flatten them out to prevent choking. I’m not even sure I need to do this now, but you know, as a first time mom it’s better to be safe than sorry! I’d like to note that my son has no issues with gas and he eats beans a couple times a day.
Boiled Veggies In Broth
Boiling veggies is pretty simple to do, especially if you already have vegetables that are going to be used for a meal that day. I do this most nights for dinner for my son. I will usually use whatever veggies we are having that night, or anything that we’ve meal prepped before and have in the fridge. Having chopped veggies in the fridge makes it so much easier. Pre-chopped frozen vegetables is another good alternative. Some of my son’s favorites are broccoli, mushrooms, onions and red peppers.
Using a little vegetable broth instead of just water also helps the flavor so I do about one part low sodium vegetable broth to 2 parts water. Also, using dried herbs like oregano, basil and thyme make it even better. Not only are you adding some Italian flavor but also antioxidants. Switching up the spices helps to keep my son from getting bored of certain vegetables so some nights I do a little cumin and chili powder for more of a Mexican taste, or a little curry powder for Indian-inspired cuisine.
Smoothies are a great way to pack in a bunch of nutrition. They are also quick and easy plus you can make one for yourself by doubling the recipe. These smoothie pouches make it really easy for a child to drink one. It’s also spill proof! I use them from my son every single time. They are amazing!
For the smoothie, all that’s needed is a liquid base, greens, fruit and a good fat. I have made a lot of my smoothie recipes for my son but below is a quick combo we do on the regular. I like using flaxseeds for the fat and protein in our smoothies because it has lots of antioxidants and fiber. Avocado and nut butters are also delicious fats to use in a smoothie.
1 cup water | handful of spinach (or other leafy green) | 2 dates | 1 cup fruit | 1 tbsp flaxseeds.
I hope these ideas will help you feed the little ones in your life. A child’s tastebuds develop over time, but starting them off with healthy foods will help them to continue to enjoy healthy foods as they grow. When a child has a lot of processed foods that’s what their tastebuds are going to become accustomed to so that’s what they’ll want more of. Let’s be honest, if you had a bag of cookies or an apple which one would you want? This is what happens to children the more they are exposed to unhealthy, processed foods. If you know someone who could use this please share with them!