Spring is a great time to hit the reset button and reintroduce some fresh foods into your kids' diet after a long winter. Get into the swing of spring produce with these four seasonal favorites.
Spinach is called a superfood for a reason: It's packed with vitamins A and C, which are essential for eye health, immune function and many other body processes. Vitamin K helps build strong bones. Spinach also contains folate and iron, which help prevent anemia. The magnesium and potassium are important for muscle development and growth.
If your kids are on-board with green stuff, serve spinach salads or add it to smoothies. Serve it sautéed with meat and fish. For veggie avoiders, the mild flavor of spinach is easily masked. Just puree and mix it into sauces, soups and meatballs.
A calcium-rich food, yogurt is important for building strong bones and teeth. At eight grams per 6 ounce container, yogurt is also a great source of protein. Greek yogurt has up to twice that much, however it provides less calcium. Yogurt is also a good source of probiotic bacteria, which can promote good digestion and immune system function.
"Have your kids help make yogurt parfaits by layering yogurt, cereal and fruit," suggests Lisa Brown, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian in New York City. "If your kids are adventurous, have them top their pancakes and waffles with yogurt and fruit instead of syrup."
Loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, fresh strawberries are a seasonal superstar. Just one cup provides more than a day's worth of vitamin C, plus a hearty dose of manganese, which is important for bone development. A serving of strawberries also packs three grams of fiber.
Strawberries are great eaten plain or with other foods. "Sweet and colorful, berries are a great addition to smoothies, cereal and yogurt," says Brown.
Asparagus is an excellent source of bone-building vitamin K as well as folate. It also provides vitamin A and iron. Available in green, purple and white varieties, asparagus spears are fun to eat and go with all kinds of foods.
Pediatric nutritionist Laura Gibofsky, MS, RD, CDN, suggests rolling asparagus in egg and panko crumbs and baking on a cookie sheet as a kid-friendly prep method. You can also add Parmesan cheese to the panko crumbs for a cheesy variation. Serve with teriyaki or tomato sauce for dipping or even a small amount of low-fat ranch dressing. This is also a great way to prepare broccoli, and is easy enough for the kids to help prepare. "Getting kids involved in the kitchen will make them more likely to try new foods," Gibofsky says.