With kids back in school and the entire family spending more time indoors, are coughs and sick days far behind? Good nutrition, with an emphasis on antioxidant-rich foods, is one of the best ways to support the immune system. Nowadays, 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. Nutrient-dense superfoods are especially important this time of year when kids come into contact with so many bugs in the school environment. Missed school days often equate to missed work days…something we all want to avoid.
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 chicken nuggets. Sneaking superfoods into their diets is crucial.
How to make superfoods kid-friendly
- 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 contain more flavonoids, called anthocyanins, than any other fruit. Anthocyanins have a remarkable ability to stimulate the body’s immune system. You can’t find black elderberries in the produce section but you can find them in Sambucol Gummies. Sambucol is the original and most-researched brand on the market. These pectin-based gummies are great for kids ages 4 and up because they contain no artificial flavors or colors. They are also 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 a little cinnamon to help balance blood sugar. Fresh berries are also great yogurt toppers.
- 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. I would love for you to try our Sweet Avocado Chocolate Power Pudding.
If your kids do get sick, encourage them to eat their water. 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!
Whether we’re around sick kids or sick co-workers, there’s never a convenient time for our own immune systems to be less than strong. There are a lot of teas with herbs that support immune health. If you’re already feeling sick, some teas are good for tummy problems. A little lemon with your tea will help to cut 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. For the same reason, 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.