TOP 3 VEGGIES TO INCLUDE IN YOUR TODDLERS DIET
– Nutrition Talk by Lauren Willmot –
A plant based, wholefood diet is so important for toddlers in a world of packaged fast foods that are so often void of important nutrients for our children’s wellbeing. But getting your toddler to eat vegetables can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task. Starting them young is essential and by getting them used to the texture and taste or by simply adding vegetables to foods they already enjoy, you will be giving your toddler the important building blocks needed for them to grow. Here are my top three veggies to include in your toddlers diet.
1. SWEET POTATO
Sweet potato is so versatile and easy to include in your toddler’s diet. Part of the root vegetable family, sweet potato can be mashed just like you would regular mashed potato and served with a piece of salmon or a lamb chop, and with most kids loving their mashed potato – It really is that easy.
Sweet potato takes its place at the top of the list as they come with a high number of beta-carotenes, along with antioxidant enzymes copper/zinc, superoxide dismutase and catalase. Antioxidants are molecules which can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. As such sweet potato and other vegetable that posses these traits play a vital role in protecting our cells against damage from free radicals.
Sweet potatoes also come with adiponectin for balancing insulin, impressive doses of vitamin A (which rivals that of green leafy vegetables) and good levels of vitamin C and vitamin B6 which are essential for immunity and proper nervous system function. Studies have even proven both orange and purple sweet potatoes to be cancer fighters.
As its name suggests, sweet potato is just that… sweet! As such, an often overlooked but great way to include this vegetable in your toddlers diet is to incorporate it into desserts! Muffins, brownies, bliss balls – the list is endless. You can also, as we often do in our home, make sweet potato chips in the oven using coconut oil and herbamare seasoning to cook them. I have included our recipe below!
Sweet potato chip recipe
1-2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1. Cut sweet potato into wedges or thinner for fries
2. Rub coconut oil evenly into the chips (melt by placing jar in a cup of boiling water)
3. Coat in hedrbamare (herb seasoning salt)
4. Bake in oven at 200 degrees for 20minutes, turn and then bake for a further 20minutes.
5. Take out of oven and put aside to cool slightly before serving 🙂
Why coconut oil? Unlike many other cooking oils, coconut oil is very stable and can withstand high cooking temperatures (thanks to its high constitution of saturated fats).
Spinach has an incredibly high nutritional value and is so easy to include in your toddlers diet. We use spinach in pretty much every meal. Spinach is high in (wait for it)… vitamin B3 and zinc, vitamins A, C, E and K, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese as well as protein, fiber and lots of antioxidants. Need I say more!? Its pretty much loaded with everything your body needs!
We buy our organic spinach straight from the frozen section, it comes chopped and ready to add to any meal! A great way to add greens to your toddlers diet without the fuss of trying to get them to eat them, is to add spinach to your toddlers smoothie! Kids love colour, so make smoothie time fun by seeing which fruits and vegetables you can add and what colour their smoothie will be today! You can also add spinach to the saucepan when making porridge (green porridge is so exciting for toddlers!), soup or when making pasta sauce, pizza sauces and stir frys! We go through a lot of spinach in our house because it really is so easy to add to meals and hide if you need!
Note: In order to retain the rich iron content of spinach while cooking add a small amount of lemon juice.
Mushrooms are often overlooked when it comes to vegetables to include in your toddlers diet. But they really can be incorporated into any meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner! Little powerhouses of potent nutrition, mushrooms contain a number of valuable nutrients, including protein, enzymes, B vitamins (especially Vitamin B3), and vitamin D. They are also excellent sources of antioxidants in general as they contain ergothioneine (otherwise known as the “master antioxidant” for its sulphur content). Mushrooms also provide dietary fiber that acts as a prebiotic for the growth of probiotics in the stomach, which is very important for digestive health.
We cut organic button mushrooms into quarters and cook them in cultured butter and tamari (soy) sauce (it seems to be the winning combo). We also make mushroom risotto and soup regularly which is easy to make in bulk and freeze. I have included our mushroom soup recipe below – Its easy , packed with nutrition and they love it!
Lily’s Mushroom Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
30g cultured butter
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves
1kg washed organic mushrooms
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
375mL organic cream or milk
Salt & pepper
1. Melt olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion and cook for 2minutes until soft, add garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Add mushrooms and cook for 5minutes, stirring, until golden brown.
4. Add stock, bring to boil, reduce heat to low & cover simmering for 20minutes
5. Remove pot from heat and blend soup with a stab mixer or in a blender.
6. Stir in cream or milk and season with salt and pepper.
“Whilst a varied diet is important for all toddlers these three vegetables play a key role in keeping our little ones happy and healthy, and as a parent… thats generally all we care about!
Thank you to Lauren Willmot for her ongoing contribution to Twingenuity
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