Here are 10 foods that are great to incorporate into your toddlers’ repertoire, and best of all, they are generally pretty popular with little pudgy hands. Try to get two or more serves of each of these in each week and you are off to a good start.
Protein and calcium in dairy products provide fuel for the brain and body. Protein helps build brain tissue while the calcium found in milk is good for strong bones and teeth.
Eggs are rich in protein and naturally contain vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. Eating protein at breakfast helps to sustain little bodies and minds for longer, but feel free to enjoy them any time of the day. Boiled eggs and omelettes are quick and easy, opt for free range where possible.
Any fruit is good for your child, providing essential vitamins and minerals. Fruit also has fiber, which keeps kids regular. Be sure to offer your child a variety of fresh fruits including berries, melons, oranges and apples.
Blueberries deserve a special mention as they are so rich in antioxidants, protecting against heart disease and diabetes and improving brain function.
Serve them fresh or on porridge or muesli for breakfast. Or mixed into natural yoghurt. Frozen blueberries are a cost-effective way of buying and storing them.
Oats are a fiber-rich whole grain that digests slowly, delivering a steady stream of energy. Cooked as a porridge with whole milk and served with cinnamon, you are giving your toddler a great start to the day. Also great for making your own muesli and muesli bars.
Nuts are made up of healthy fats which kids need for growth and development as well as for heart health. Having a little bit of “good” fat in the morning gives your kids a burst of energy to keep them going. Use them in muesli, ground into smoothies, as a snack or blended to make your own nut butters. Delicious.
6. Whole Milk Natural Yogurt
Containing lots of good bacteria and protein, natural yoghurt is the only yoghurt your toddler should be having. Avoid sweetened or flavoured yoghurts for as long as possible as these are really high in sugar. Natural yoghurt is deliciously refreshing on its own or can be flavoured with fresh fruit, a squeeze of honey (for the over 1’s). Agave syrup is a great low GI sweetener alternative.
Packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fats, which are also known to boost brain development, fend off depression and have superb anti-inflammatory powers. Salmon is delicious steamed, baked or used in patties or fish cakes. It;s oily and kids love it. The tails are usually cheaper than fillets and are bone free.
Believe it or not, 70% pure cocoa, the non-sugary kind, is not all that bad for you. And raw cacao is even better. Use it to make delicious treats for your toddler such as hot chocolates, milkshakes, or for baking with like cakes, muffins, slices.
Always minimise sugar by using alternatives such as maple or agave syrup, and you can have guilt-free treats. Strawberries dipped in melted 70% cocoa chocolate are a great dessert.
9. Black Beans
Beans are a great source of protein, fibre and calcium. They can also guard against heart disease and high cholesterol, and better still, it’s easy to get kids to eat them. Use them in Taco sauce, Quesadillas or mash into vegie burgers.
This herb is packed with antioxidants – vitamins A, C and K – as well as iron, potassium and calcium and can help improve digestion. Use it to make fresh pesto for pasta, spread leaves on homemade pizzas, add a whole bunch to a batch of Bolognaise or add it into mince. It’s also great for meatballs or burgers.