It can often feel like a minefield on what to feed your kids to give them the best nutrients and best chance of being healthy. And when it comes to having a robust immune system, we now know that a well rounded and balanced diet is essential. In the gut there are billions of little good bacteria that are there to help keep the gut healthy.
Sometimes the gut bacteria (the gut microbiome) can struggle a bit however, either by not being diverse enough (there should be lots of different types or strains of bacteria) or there’s a build-up of more bad bacteria, which can have a whole host of side effects such as a weakened immune system, low level inflammation in the gut etc. So ultimately, we need to keep the good bacteria happy and healthy, so the bad bacteria can’t take over and thus ensuring a stronger immune system. To do this, they need to be fed the right things and this is where prebiotics come in – they are the food that keep the good bacteria happy. And then there’s probiotics which are live bacteria that help add strength to the bacteria that’s already living in the gut (flora).
You can buy pre and probiotics from health food shops but almost everything we need for a healthy gut can come from the food we consume. Holly Sugars is one of our nutritionists and a private caterer and she has put together a list of some common foods that have pre and probiotics in and suggested a couple of great ways of including them in a meal for your little ones. Have a look and see how she creates densely nutritious and thoroughly scrummy meals for even the fussiest of kids.
Garlic and Onions – They add great flavor and are a great source of prebiotics. Add them to anything with a sauce and if the kids complain, just try and chop them up as small as possible
Leek – Use this like an onion to add extra veggie content to your meals too
Asparagus – Great fun with a dippy egg for breakfast or lunch!
Banana – all kids like bananas right? If they’re not so keen try mashing one up and baking with oats to make a sugar free granola, or throw into a smoothie for a delicious kid frinednly snack with berries and yoghurt/milk
Barley – Pearl barley is a great grain to use in place of rice, pasta or potatoes … just try them on it and see what they think, they might just surpise you!
Oats – don’t buy cereals from the shops which are FULL of sugars and nasties … make your own banana granola, and feed your family delicious oaty goodness
Apples – An apple a day … apple sticks, apple puree, apple crumble, apple wedges with peanut butter, etc etc … go apple crazy
Flaxseeds – ground they can be sprinkled into soups, cereals, porridge, stews or whole use them as a veggie or salad topper
Seaweed – Seaweed is a delicious nutritiously dense snack for kids, buy some sushi sheets and chop them up into bite sized pieces. Yum
Kefir – readily available in the supermarkets now, this yogurt drink is full of goodness and comes in tiny bottles, which will appeal to tiny hands!
Active culture yogurt – Slightly more sour than normal yogurt, so sweeten with some fruit puree for the kiddies
Tempeh – This is a form of vegetable protein, similar to tofu – and it crumbles easily. So use it as a ‘mince’ substitute in dishes that traditionally use mince, such as shepherds pie, lasagna, bolognaise etc
Kimchi – maybe not one for the kids, but it’s easy to make your own and is a great salad topper
Pickled veg – Gherkins, onions, or cabbage, pickled veg is full of delicious goodies that your tummy will thank you for. Get the kids involved with making their own to tempt them to try some!
Miso – A teaspoon mixed in a mug with hot water is a great little snack/drink . And who loves noodles? Add some noodles to your soup and some chicken or prawns and pak choi, to make you feel like you’re in Asia