If we let them, our toddlers would subsist on a steady diet of plain noodles, white bread (preferably without crusts, thank you very much), goldfish crackers, and cookies.
Even if you’re blessed with a good eater who will happily munch on veggie sticks and apple slices without complaint, who among us isn’t forever on the hunt for new ways to mix more variety into our kids’ diets? Variety of flavours—to grow their palates—and variety of foods to make sure they’re getting a wide range of vitamins and minerals to fuel their little growing bodies.
The best fuel is undoubtedly so-called ‘superfoods’, which are foods with especially dense concentrations of nutrients, vitamins, or minerals. They may also contain healthy enzymes, good fats, antioxidants, and more. And while some you might not find front and centre in your local store (spirulina, we’re looking at you), others are (wonderfully) common and familiar. Tomatoes are full of powerful antioxidants, broccoli flushes the body of harmful chemicals, and avocados are chock-full of the healthy fats that lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Here’s a list of our favourite tried-and-true ways of incorporating more fruit, veg, and superfoods into a little one’s diet.
1. Make more smoothies
If you haven’t started feeding your toddler smoothies on the reg, trust us—they’ll love them. To get the most nutritional bang for your buck, think beyond traditional smoothie ingredients. For example, adding a bit of avocado to your smoothie gives it a wonderfully creamy, milkshake-like texture without an obtrusive flavour.
2. Slip it into dessert
They’ll never know there’s anything healthy in it if you hide it with a bit of chocolate. Check out this recipe for chocolate avocado pudding (the avocado flavour is completely undetectable, and actually makes it creamier). Also, you can use sweet potatoes to make an incredibly rich chocolate frosting. We kid you not. Finally, the fatty, creamy texture of avocados makes them a dream to bake with—these decadent and fudgy brownies have no butter.
3. Introduce a new veggie verrry slowly
Apparently, the trick to getting your kids to eat ‘weird’ new foods is to introduce them slooowwllllyyy, and to not make a big deal out of it. Check out this account of how one mom got her kids to happily eat kale. She started out adding very finely chopped kale to things like pasta sauces and omelettes, and eventually worked them up to kale salads. Teach us your ways, mama.
4. Make ‘kid’ versions of adult faves.
Try toddler tapas. Fill each compartment of a muffin tin with a different snack. Think bite-sized nibbles like walnuts, blueberries, and carrot sticks. Or try a toddler antipasto platter (think: cheese cubes, turkey slices, crackers, avocado slices, and grapes). And avocado toast isn’t just for hipsters—our food editor reports that the mini picky eaters in her life will happily chow down on avocado toast with hummus.
5. Have a fiesta with the whole family.
Pretty much every kid we know is a fan of tacos and tortillas. Lucky for us, Mexican-inspired meals are a cinch to prepare at home and the ingredients are often inexpensive and adaptable, making them perfect for families. Make your own guacamole (it’s mainly avocados, which are an incredible superfood) or set out Pico de Gallo (fresh tomato salsa) since tomatoes are also a powerful superfood, and dig in. Ole!
6. Adopt ‘Meatless Monday’.
Make it a family goal to bring veggies and pulses front and centre on the dinner menu at least one night a week. (Pulses, in particular, are filling, easy to cook, and very inexpensive.) Setting a meatless goal may help you to break out of the meat-and-potatoes box.
7. Hand out more popsicles.
Making your own popsicles is a great way to sneak in fruit and veggies. Fresh fruits like berries and bananas are an obvious crowd pleaser, but you can also blend in other healthy foods like avocados and yogurt.
8. Let them pick out the vegetables.
How many times a day do you hear ‘me do!’ or ‘I’ll do it myself!’? Start a new tradition of letting each child in your family pick a new fruit or vegetable (the weirder looking the better!) every time you’re at the supermarket. Accept whatever they choose—and go home and look up how to prepare it together.
This post was brought to you by Avocados from Mexico but the opinions and ideas are our own.