We all want our kids to live long and healthy lives, and we all know that diet and exercise is key. But when little noses turn up at vegetables, it can feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.
With rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes at an all time high, good childhood nutrition is more important than ever. But not all foods are created equal, and while all children need a generally well balanced diet with plenty of veggies, carbs, protein and healthy fats, there are a six food items that are such nutritional powerhouses that they should be on the menu every week.
According to American nutrition expert Joel Fuhrman MD, his six super foods (which he calls his G-BOMBS) can literally build a protective health armour around your kids. And if you focus your efforts on getting these six items into your children on a regular basis, you can watch them grow up safe in the knowledge you’ve done all you can to disease-proof their future.
The Big Six
The great news is, these super six aren’t expensive, faddy foods – they’re all things you’ve probably already got in your fridge, even if they’re not usually on the kids’ menu. But with a few clever recipes and a bit of craftiness, your children will be wolfing them down in no time, whether they realise it or not!
G is for Green Leafy Vegetables.
Bursting with more anti-cancer nutrients than any other food and a great source of protein, kale, bok choy and romaine lettuce must be on the menu. But how do we make them kid friendly?
Hide them! If green leaves are a no-go in your household, blitz them into a smoothie. Add a large handful of any green leafy vegetable to a blender with a banana, a cup of almond milk and some frozen berries and watch the kids gulp it down.
B is for Beans: These little legumes can keep diabetes at bay, cholesterol low and even slash colon cancer risk by half, if they’re eaten twice a week!
Yummy bean burgers: Served up in a wholemeal bun with a splodge of ketchup, bean burgers are a perfect way to get legumes into your kids – they can even help you make them!
Mash a tin of beans, then add half a grated carrot, half an onion and half a clove of garlic (whizzed in a food processor first), a glug of olive oil, crumbs from a slice of wholemeal bread (or ground oats) and a pinch of cumin and coriander to taste. Shape into burgers and bake for about 20 minutes.
Black bean brownies: A cunning way to get beans into children without them noticing: Put two cups of tinned black beans, 2 tablespoons of almond butter, a teaspoon of vanilla in a blender and blend.
Add ½ cup of natural cocoa powder, 1 ¼ cups of pitted dates and a tablespoon of ground chia seeds and blend again adding a drop of water if necessary. Pour into a lightly oiled baking tray and cook for 90 minutes in a very low oven (90C).
O is for Onions: Onions, leeks and garlic are immune-enhancing miracles, which also slash the risk of cancer and diabetes.
If your kids pick the bits of onion out of a spaghetti bolognese, then blitz them in a food processor before you add them to the meat.
Garlic pitta bread is another way to get these immune-boosting gems into little tums. Mix a clove of garlic into a tablespoon of butter and heat on the hob for a few minutes. Chop a wholemeal pitta bread into wedges, pour the melted garlic butter over and grill until golden brown.
M is for Mushrooms: The humble fungus is jammed with anti-cancer phytochemicals, and the great news is you don’t need to eat that much. One small mushroom a day can reduce breast cancer risk by 64%!
Homemade pizza is a wonderful way to get mushrooms into your kids. Chop an onion, a garlic clove and a few mushrooms and cook them in a saucepan with a splash of water for five minutes.
Add in half a tin of chopped tomatoes and cook until the sauce starts reducing. Blitz with a hand blender and use on top of a wholewheat pizza base, before adding your kids' favourite toppings.
B is for Berries: True superfoods, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are dripping with antioxidants and protect you from heart disease in later life. They’re also great for the brain and help improve memory and motor coordination.
Berry blend ice cream: Nutritional eating doesn’t mean saying goodbye to puddings! Give your kids their daily dose of disease fighting berries in a scoop of homemade ice cream.
Add ½ cup of pomegranate juice, ½ cup soy milk, 1 frozen banana, 1 cup frozen mixed berries, 1 cup frozen peaches. Mix together in a powerful blender or food processor and eat!
S is for Seeds: Sesame, pumpkin, flax, chia – all seeds contain lignans (flax has the most) which literally make you live longer if you eat them when you’re young, protecting you from cancer and heart disease.
If children turn their nose up at seeds, turn them into sweetie balls: mix ground walnuts, ground almonds, flax seeds and chia seeds in a blender with cinnamon, dates and some cashew nut butter. Roll the resulting paste into balls and keep them in the fridge.
Seed-milk banana milkshakes are another great way to get the goodness into kids without a battle. Just whizz a banana and a drop of honey in the blender with some seed milk. Hemp milk is available in most supermarkets, or you can make your own.
Just soak a cup of seeds overnight, rinse them in the morning, add 3 cups of water and blend. Run the remaining liquid through some muslin or a fine sieve and serve.
By Sophie Vokes-Dudgeon
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