In order to meet your child’s nutrient needs, there are a few foods that are a MUST for everyday nutrition. Meaning, EVERYDAY your child should eat these foods or comparable substitutes to ensure he/she is meeting the RDA for important nutrients including calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin C.
1) Milk. Until the age of 2, all children should consume whole milk (Vitamin D fortified). If there is a milk or soy allergy, choose a substitute such as enriched rice milk which contains exactly the same vitamin and mineral content after enrichment. Just 16 oz per day is all that is needed to meet calcium needs.
2) Oatmeal. Oatmeal is rich in iron. Just a 1/3 cup provides over half your child’s iron needs for the day.
3) Beans. Baked, canned, cooked or boiled. These lovely little guys are packed with iron and zinc. Just 1/4 cup baked beans per day will boost your child’s nutrition in many ways.
4) Carrots. It is true if you eat too many, you may turn orange, but carrots are a great source of vitamin A. Try 1/4 cup as an alternative to cereal for a snack.
5) Soybeans. Soy is one of those greatly debated foods due to the phytoestrogen or “fake estrogen” properties. Good news, soy is safe. Research demonstrates soyfoods are safe and do not affect hormone levels in men or women. 1/4 cup of soybeans provide about 1/3 your child’s iron needs for the day.
6) Broccoli. Rich in vitamin c, just 1/4 cup of broccoli per day meets the RDA. This super food is also a great source of fiber!
7) Sweet Potato. Great source of Vitamin A. Just 1/8 of a cup meets your child’s needs for the day. Rotate with 1/4 Butternut squash to get the same benefit.
8) Strawberries. These guys are not only a good source of fiber, but a sweet source of Vitamin C. All you need is 3 to do the trick!
9) Orange. Always know as a good source of Vitamin C. Oranges are full of nutrition. Try offering the fruit versus the juice to get the fiber benefits and avoid the unnecessary calories juice provides.
10) Cod Liver oil. Brace yourself. I know this may be off the “deep end”, but this arctic derived oil gives the most bang for your buck. One teaspoon will provide over 100% RDA for Vitamin D. Mix this oil into yogurt, oatmeal, soups or sauces. Choose a purified oil to ensure no harmful contaminants. Many are available in child friendly flavors.
Don’t forget these items on your next trip to the grocery store! Try to include as many of these items as you can, EVERYDAY!