A kid’s hit list of veggies is usually pretty short. How about extending it with some unsung heroes? These five vegetables might not get the star treatment of broccoli, but they pack a wallop of nutrition.
No disrespect to the baby carrot, but when it comes to nourishing a kid, it would do well to share the plate with a few unsung veggie heroes.
Of course all veggies are good for us, and especially for kids. Growing bodies especially require antioxidants to support immune systems and other nutrients to support bone health and memory.
But as most parents know, kids tend to stick to a short list of preferred veggies. It’s a wonder they have energy to so vigorously resist broccoli, spinach, cauliflower and other “rock star” veggies parents try so hard to work onto their meals.
So how about another option? If broccoli and spinach are rock stars, then think of other veggies as the back-up bands. Let’s shake up mealtime with some less-obvious but highly nutritious veggies. Following are five super good-for-you veggies and tips for preparing them.
Microgreens and watercress: Baby forms of kale, radishes, cabbages and broccoli look so cute on the plate. They also can be higher in vitamins C and E than their mature counterparts, according to WebMD. Watercress is high in vitamins A, C and K as well as antioxidants that boost immune systems. So make a salad of them all, or include them in wraps. Kid tips: Add dried fruit, cashews or sesame sticks to the greens and toss in a yummy, all-natural dressing. Micro-greens also cook nicely on pizza.
Garlic: This allium, along with scallions, chives and other onions, contains a compound that has been shown to improve immunity. In particular, they protect the body from illnesses including heart disease and cancer. Onions also are a great source of biotin, a B-vitamin complex that is good for metabolism and skin health. Garlic, meanwhile, packs manganese – great for healthy bones and skin – and the vitamins C and B6. Kid tips: Cook several cloves of minced garlic into your tomato sauce. Also, roasted garlic can be rubbed on toasted bread. As for onions, when caramelized they gain a sweetness that makes them terrific in stews and frittatas. No time to caramelize? Simply roast sliced scallions with carrots or sweet potatoes.
Frozen peas: Isn’t it awesome that something so easy is also really good for kids? Peas provide growing bodies with vitamins A and C, fiber (to keep kids feeling full). Bonus: They deliver a good amount of protein (4.1 grams per half a cup). Feel good about eating the frozen kind. Peas are among those veggies that tend to be more nourishing frozen than fresh. This is because veggies begin losing their nutrients once they are picked, and peas tend to do so faster than others. Kid tips: Peas are a great finger food for kids and can be packed, frozen, in a lunch box. If you want to be creative, they can be speared on plastic toothpicks.
Red bell peppers: The red bell is a veggie with a capital C. Just one red pepper contains more vitamin C than an orange. Further, red bells are high in vitamin A (essential for vision) as well as manganese and fiber. All this translates to stronger hearts, bones and bodies. Kid tips: Clean out and roast peppers whole before filling with chicken chili or cheesy brown rice. Or simply cut a raw red pepper into fun shapes, like flowers, and assemble them in a glass of all-natural dip.
Purple potatoes: Potatoes in general get a bad wrap due to their carbs, but they are a super source of potassium. However, if you want a real stud spud, opt for the purple potato. It carries a dash more protein than white potatoes as well as a flavonoid called anthocyanin. This important antioxidant supports immunity, blood pressure and memory strength. Other purple varieties of veggies, such as carrots, cabbage and asparagus, offer similar nutritional benefits. Kid tips: Purple potatoes roast nicely, especially with super-healthy chives, and are small enough to make for bite-sized treats. They also make for festive oven fries.