With many kids back returning to the classroom and the entire family spending more time indoors, sick days may not be far behind. In addition to frequent handwashing and using hand sanitizers, eating antioxidant-rich foods is one of the best ways to support the immune system. Today, there’s a lot of talk about superfoods. But which superfoods will your kids eat? And what are some “mom hacks” to also help you stay healthy?
What Makes a Superfood So Super?
“Foods that are called superfoods offer more nutrients, bite for bite, than other foods in their category. In most cases, these are fruits and vegetables,” explains Holistic Nutritionist Andrea Donsky. Nutrient-dense superfoods are especially important as kids come into contact with a variety of bugs in the school environment. Even if we are working from home, missed school days are something we all want to avoid.
Donsky points out, “Because kids tend to be picky eaters, a lot of the calories they take in are not nutrient-dense. There just aren’t many vitamins or minerals in cheese pizza. Sneaking superfoods into their diets is crucial.”
How to Make Superfoods Kid-Friendly
Donsky lists some simple, and probably surprising, ways to get kids to consume more superfoods.
Instead of steaming vegetables such as kale and cauliflower, try roasting them in olive oil, salt and garlic. “Roasting brings out the flavor and makes them crispier.”
Another hide-the-nutrients trick that really works is to bake healthy seeds and grains—such as quinoa, millet, flax or chia—into cookies or banana bread.
Introduce kids to black elderberries. “They have a remarkable ability to empower natural immune support. You aren’t going to find black elderberries in the produce section which is why more moms are now stocking up on yummy black elderberry-based products that come in easy-to-use drink mix, syrup, capsules and pastilles as well as pectin-based gummies which are great for kids ages 4 and up. They are free of all major allergens including gluten, nut, soy, dairy and eggs.”
Some moms are surprised to learn that Greek yogurt is a superfood. “It has probiotics and protein and is great for breakfasts and snacks. Add berries for antioxidants and fiber, and a sprinkle of cinnamon to help their blood sugar levels.”
Substitute peanuts in trail mix with goji berries and mulberries. “Sprinkle in coconut flakes and dark chocolate chips for a delicious and nutritious nut-free snack.”
Hide half an avocado in a smoothie. Avocados are good for the brain and concentration. They have good fat plus fiber and protein. “My youngest loves my sweet avocado chocolate power pudding!”
If your kids do feel under the weather, Donsky advises you to encourage them to eat their water if they don’t want to drink it. “Yes, I said EAT. Kids can get dehydrated easily if they are vomiting or have diarrhea. It’s often easier to get them to eat soup, or snack on fruits and vegetables that are mostly water (such as watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, oranges and tomatoes) than it is to get them to drink enough fluids.”
Mom Hacks: You Need to Stay Healthy Too!
There’s never a convenient time for our own immune systems to be less than strong. Sip on teas that contain immune-supporting herbs and/or squeeze lemon into your tea to reduce phlegm. (The acidity is what does the trick!)
Honey contains antioxidants and helps with sore throats. “Always use non-pasteurized because the heat in the pasteurization process will kill honey’s health-boosting properties,” she advises. For the same reason, she says never put honey directly into hot tea. Wait until it cools down or eat the honey off the spoon then drink your tea.
Finally, get creative by using spices from your pantry. Ginger tea helps reduce inflammation. Cinnamon helps to open sinuses as does peppermint oil when used in a diffuser.