As a registered dietitian nutritionist, one of my favorite things about my job is empowering kids to become healthy eaters. I look at every meal and snack as an opportunity to provide little ones with valuable nutrients and teach them great habits for life.
So what do I tell parents about the best ways to nourish their children?
First, fruits and veggies should fill half of every plate, given their excellent nutrient profile of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. They are the stars, after all! As a bonus, fruits and vegetables don't have added sugar and most are negligible in fat and sodium. While each fruit and veggie is powerful on its own, eating a variety throughout the week is also important in order to collect different nutrients from various-colored produce.
Next, protein, to help kids grow, should compose a quarter of each meal. Aim for lean proteins like eggs, nuts, beans, fish, and chicken.
And don’t forget about whole grains for energy. I recommend that a quarter of each plate also include whole grains like a whole wheat tortilla, bread, pita, oats, quinoa, or barley. Children should also be getting calcium, mostly found in dairy products, to build bones. Lastly, growing kids need healthy fats that contain monounsaturated fats or omega-3s for heart and brain health benefits.
So what are the best foods that cover these categories? Here are my nine favorite foods to feed kids every day: