Since we first introduced solid foods to Vienna (she's now 3.5 years), I've been incorporating superfoods into her diet. Superfoods are simply foods with a high level of nutrients, more specifically, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Many of them can be found locally (depending on where you live of course) and affordable (however, not all of them). I've provided a wide range of different superfoods your kids will love and their health benefits so that you have plenty of options to choose from to inspire the next generation of healthy eaters.
There are some superfoods such as maca, raw cacao, matcha, spirulina and more that you need to be cautious with for little ones but I've outlined my thoughts on those at the bottom of this post, since I often get asked about that. If there is a superfood that I have not listed in this post, please feel free to ask about it in the comments section.
Whether you've just started your baby on solid foods, you've got a hungry toddler or a ravenous 15 year old, it's never too late to introduce superfoods to your kids!
This was one of the first superfoods I introduced to Vienna because the taste is quite neutral. It's slightly nutty and the texture is soft (provided you're buying the "shelled" seeds also known as the "heart" of the seed). You also don't have to soak, sprout or cook them.
The main reason this is on my list is that it's high in protein. In fact, there are about 10g of protein in 1 serving (3 tbsp) and it contains all 10 essential amino acids. This is a great high protein food for babies, toddlers and kids. The digestibility of the protein in hemp is equal to or greater than that of protein in lentils and nuts.
They contain a rare fat called GLA (gamma linolenic acid) which is a fatty acid that is wonderful for skin and keeps inflammation in check. This fat is excellent for preventing dry skin and has research proven benefits that may help with eczema as well. There are other health benefits, but these are the main ones that apply to kiddies.
eat more hemp
When I was a kid, my mom used to make prune whip for a treat or as a natural solution to relieve constipation whenever my brother and I were a little "backed up", because they are an amazing source of fibre.
Now that I'm a mama, I make that whip (when I have time) or I make sure to have Love Child Organic's "First Prunes" stocked in my kitchen cupboards! Not only are prunes a superfood for kids but also for pregnant mamas and there's no reason that parents can't slurp back a prune puree too, haha!
If your child is new to prunes, start out slowly, because they DO work. They are really magic!
Eat more prunes
Okay, stay with me here on this one! The thing you have to remember about young ones is that they are the most open to trying new superfoods when they are young. "Young" meaning, as soon as they can easily chew food to a paste (depends on your child, but anywhere from 8 months to 1.5 years).
Before they can tell you they don't want to try something, let them experience as many flavours as possible! Vienna loves sauerkraut! It's one of her favourite superfoods, as a side dish or added to anything. I think it's because I gave it to her so early on.
For older kids, give them a chance. A lot of kids love the sour taste of sauerkraut, so even though you as a parent may not be into sauerkraut, don't assume your children will be the same. I talk about this in my post 8 Tips for Raising Healthy Eaters. Kraut is an incredible superfood for gut health because it's a fermented food. It feeds the good bacteria and therefore, supports the immune system and overall digestion.
eat more sauerkraut
When most people think of a superfood, goji berries come to mind. That's why I buy a bag of goji berries in bulk from my local health food store every couple of months because they are the king of superfoods for kids. Be forewarned, they are not a cheap superfood. But they make up for their price with being super high in vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene – the highest of all plant foods!) and vitamin C, which both support the immune system and they contain a phytonutrient called zeaxanthin, which is incredible for healthy eyesight.
Walker and Vienna love goji berries in their morning porridge in the wintertime. It's their favourite breakfast to enjoy together! It's so sweet. They both sit at Vienna's little table and eat together. As for me, I would rather eat pancakes ;) Goji berries are best rehydrated which is why they go great in a porridge. I also love using them in baking. If you're just eating them on their own, they are also nice in a trail mix.
Eat more goji berries
Grains and pseudo-grains are typically not hard to convince children to eat especially because most kids are carb monsters ! If your child eats rice or millet, then quinoa is the next best thing. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and like hemp, it's a complete plant-based protein which makes it satiating and a great food to include on your child's dinner plate. Quinoa is rich in an amino acid called lysine which has immune boosting health benefits especially for fighting cold sores. Quinoa is as versatile as it comes, but you'll want to make sure you get it as fluffy as can be with my pro tips.
Eat More Quinoa
Chia seeds are one of the best superfoods on the planet - totally versatile and super high in plant-based protein and omega-3 fatty acids. They are especially important for your child if they are eating a vegan or vegetarian diet -- but you probably already knew that ;)
Chia seeds can be a very filling food for your child, which is great if it seems like they are a bottomless pit!
They are also high in fibre that helps to absorb waste in the large intestine and fill up an empty belly. Chia seeds can be very helpful if your child has diarrhea or constipation, but you just need to make sure they drink lots of water and don't go overboard with chia. For a baby, I recommend no more than 1/4 tsp mixed into something.
Eat More Chia seeds
I don't know any child (or grown-up for that matter) who would turn down a blueberry! They are nature's perfect candy. I buy blueberries all throughout the year because my daughter loves to snack on them. In the winter, I buy frozen wild blueberries because they are more cost-effective and in the summer, I buy bucketloads of fresh blueberries!
Blueberries are a brain-supportive superfood because they are so rich in antioxidants that protect the brain from oxidate stress.
They support brain function and improve memory. They may be effective against UTI's in children which can become problematic especially during toilet training.
Blueberries contain substances that prevent bacteria like E. coli from binding to the wall of your bladder which is how they may prevent UTIs (same substance cranberries have).
Blueberries are perfect to munch on when you are craving something sweet too. Fruits like blueberries provide the body with a slow release of glucose because they contain fibre, unlike candies, cookies and pastries, which spike your blood sugar and make you crave MORE sweets.
Eat more blueberries
Avocado: This was the very first solid food I gave Vienna! Avocados are rich in healthy fat and fibre, making them super filling for kids. The Everything Guac is often on repeat in our home.
Kale or Spinach: These leafy greens are rich in fibre which helps to promote healthy digestion and are also rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene which promotes eye health and immune system strength. You can turn them into kale chips, mix s pinach into a smoothie or pasta sauce. My daughter thinks this kale galette is pizza! Love Child Organic's Purees also contains spinach and kale.
Olives and Olive Oil: Rich in healthy fats (specifically monounsaturated fatty acids important for heart health) and if you introduce them to your child when they are young, they will likely love the taste! We love Acropolis Organics olives and olive oil.
Bone Broth: It's incredibly rich in minerals and easily digested amino acids and great for gut health. I've been slurping on bone broth since I was a child. My mom always made soup from scratch with homemade broth and bone broth was one of Vienna's first foods too.
Eggs: From potein, vitamin B12, iron, choline and lecithin – eggs have it all and they are also the perfect brain-boosting superfood! These Mini Frittata Cups contain eggs and this cake (a healthy treat) has 6 eggs in the batter, so you can reap all of the amazing benefits!
Salmon: Fish is on the menu in our home at least twice per week because it's rich in essential fatty acids that are needed for brain development in babies and children. I make these salmon quinoa cakes all the time. Vienna has been enjoying these since she was a baby.
Of course, there are far more superfoods than the 13 I've mentioned, like cauliflower , turmeric (my daughter LOVES this latte ), but this should give you a good start. Feel free to share yours below if I've missed a superfood you can't live without!
This is a list of superfoods you'll want to be cautious introducing to your child.
As always, any questions or comments please post below!