As a dietitian who specializes in children’s nutrition, I get asked a lot of questions, such as: “Can I give my 6-month-old nuts?” or “Can I give my 2-year-old fish?”
I’d like to give you seven foods to introduce to your entire family’s diet in 2016, whether your children are 6 months old, 1 year old or 18 years old.
One cup of cooked spinach has as much calcium as a cup of milk! Not only that, but it gives your toddler his full iron needs and more than half of yours. You know what else? It’s packed with vitamin A and C. Popeye was right to be obsessed with his spinach. You can use fresh leaves in salad or use spinach in a pie or make a spinach stew or soup or mix it into a smoothie.
We barely include fish in our diet, especially during winter. This is too bad because fish contains an amazing amount of essential fatty acids, which are essential to our body. Fish are also an excellent source of zinc, which can be difficult to obtain. You should aim to have fish at least once a week. Salmon, white fish and sardines are especially high in essential fatty acids, specifically omega-3. Once you’ve added fish to your shopping list, the work is almost done because cooking fish filet in the oven takes 20 minutes — tops.
One cup of almonds has more calcium than a cup of milk. It is also a surprising source of protein and iron. Almonds are also rich in those essential fatty acids we talked about earlier. For babies and toddlers, you can introduce almonds by either making home made almond milk or grinding the almonds and spraying them over porridge or oatmeal.
4. Brown rice
It can be difficult to make the switch from yummy white rice to brown rice. The best way to do it is to simply stop buying white rice altogether. You’ll find that your digestive system, energy levels and vitamin levels all thank you in return.
5. Sesame seeds
Did you know that one cup of sesame seeds has 144 grams of calcium, whereas a cup of cow’s milk has around 25 grams? A sprinkle of sesame in salads, over home-cooked bread and on steamed vegetables can surely kick up the meal a notch.
I won’t name a single fruit, because they are all important. Aim for two to three fruits a day for each family member. Fruits are not only rich in vitamins and fiber, but are full of antioxidants, which can protect your cells from damage like pollution, tobacco damage and cancer.
7. Dried fruits
As part of the fruit intake throughout the day, try to have dried fruits at least once a day. They help the digestive tract, and they are full of antioxidants, rich in vitamins such as vitamin A and are a good sources of minerals, such as iron and potassium. Make raisins, dates and dried cranberries a daily snack. They are great whether at home or on the go.