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While I wish I could, I most certainly can’t guarantee kids are never gonna get sick. I know, it would make life way easier. But the Winter’s coming in fast and so I figured I’d go over some of the best immunity boosting foods for kids to make them as healthy as they can be.
Immunity Boosting Foods For Kids
Kids and bugs often go hand in hand, especially when they’re smaller. All of mine would at some point or another, come home with snuffly noses and sore throats. It was just part of life and when the Winter hit, it’s always fully expected that one/some/all of the kids would go down with one thing or another. And then we would. And that’s just the way it is.
However all that said, there’s lots we can do to help stay as strong against all the bugs around as we possibly can. And it won’t surprise you to know that our diets are a great way to make sure our immunity to these bugs is robust and ready to fight back!
To be honest, I’m always trying to get the kids to eat more vegetables. They’re pretty good now, but out of all the ‘groups’ of foods, vegetables are the one thing I still ‘keep an eye on’. Even after eating Clean for quite a long time now, vegetables are not something my kids seem to gravitate towards naturally except perhaps some veggie sticks in the summer as a light snack when the weather’s hot. Oh, and Edamame beans. My kids eat these by the bucket load. Maybe I’m expecting too much but either way, I watch the veggie intake.
What Should Be Included In A Regular Diet To Increase Immunity?
I don’t cut out any food groups. I believe cutting out food groups promotes issues with food and problems later down the line. My aim is to get the kids to eat a well balanced healthy Real food diet. I buy the best quality food I can, Organic meat where it’s not crazy priced and we have been known to grow a few veggies in the back garden :)
- 6 Vegetable recipes to fool your picky eater
- Two steps to getting your kids into vegetables
- FREE Meal planning tool kit
- 22 Ways to encourage your kids to eat veggies
What Are Immune Boosting Tasty Foods For Kids?
With an estimated 1097 vegetable species worldwide and around 2000 fruits, there’s going to be something the kids will eat. Many kids prefer fruits to vegetables for obvious reasons, but there’s so many other ways to incorporate veggies into the kids diets other than the old fashioned, boiled to a mush and popped on the side of the plate variety.
You also don’t have to give a whole portion of just one vegetable. Make up a veggie side dish that’s got 3-4 different things. If you’re starting out and trying to introduce your kids to new vegetable tastes, make the goal getting them to try something, rather than getting them to eat an amount of something. It’ll make meal times a whole lot less stressful!
And don’t forget about herbs and spices. They’re full of the good stuff and can easily be incorporated into lots of recipes. See below for some ideas!
A healthy balance diet that’s heavy on the veggies, lighter (like, seriously light! ) on the sugar and medium on everything else. Here are some of the foods we veer towards as the Winter draws in:
I’ve broken this down into food groups and then listed some of the foods I like to cook with during the buggy season.
These are a selection of immunity boosting foods
Dark Leafy Greens
Kale, spinach, greens, they’re all leafy vegetables and all super good for you. There’s a whole load of things you can do with these veggies, from blending them into a smoothie to eating them raw in a salad, dark leafy greens are one of those vegetables you can easily sneak into the kids diets.
These veggies are full of goodness such as vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, fibre, folate, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium.
Also see: Spinach breakfast muffins
Pepper, specifically red, yellow and orange are the ones I use most often in cooking. I cannot get the kids to eat green pepper, and I’m not the biggest fan either really. Minus the green ones, these brightly colored peppers are perfect for crunchy snacks when they’re cut into strips and dipped in a little humous as well as used in cooked dinner recipes. And they’re pretty reasonably priced :)
They are an excellent source of vitamin C, especially the ripest peppers, which are red. Peppers are also a good source of vitamin A and fibre. Peppers also have antioxidant properties, which may help to protect against diseases such as cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
Also see: Dragon chicken recipe
Most of us can get the kids to eat broccoli. It seems to be one of those veggies on the ‘basics’ list and many kids eat this most often as one of their regular vegetables.
Broccoli is loaded with fibre, antioxidants to fight cancer, and vitamin C. While broccoli doesn’t provide as much calcium as some dairy products, what it does have is good at helping to help control blood pressure and healthy bones.
Also see: Broccoli and leek soup
Mushrooms (Really a Fungi)
Fun fact: Mushrooms are technically a fruit not a veg and are in fact a Fungi. Either way people seem to love them or hate em! We’re half and half in this house. Some of us would eat them with everything (me!) and others will only eat them if they’re chopped up so small as to be undetectable. I’m told it’s not the taste but the texture, which I get, and just means I have to work a bit harder at making them go unnoticed.
Mushrooms have been used for many many years for their nutrient and medicinal properties which include: B vitamins, phosphorus, vitamin D, selenium, copper and potassium. These are one veggie it’s well worth working that bit harder to get into the kids diets!
Also see: Simple mushrooms on toast
As a kid I knew to eat oranges for the vitamin C. None of us knew what on earth this was or did, but we heard it repeated so often that there wasn’t one of us who didn’t know to eat (or drink freshly squeezed) fresh orange for the vitamin C!
Now that I’m the Mom I’ve followed this through, except I don’t squeeze them for the kids to drink, I prefer to get them to eat the whole thing so they get the fibre from the flesh as well.
And it’s not just vitamin C either, oranges also contain: Protein, vitamin A, a little calcium and fibre.
Also see: Orange chicken
Berries berries berries. They make up a large portion of smoothie ingredients, my freezers very often full of them waiting to be thrown into the blender on a busy school morning and happily, I believe they’re one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Yay.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, bilberries and all the other berries, they’re awesome. I try hard to get numerous portions of these into smoothies and puddings through the week.
Where I live, berries can be pricy to buy fresh. They’re cheaper when they’re in season of course and if you have some berries growing in your back garden all the better, but the best way I’ve found to buy berries of all description is to buy them frozen and keep them in the freezer, for busy mornings mostly. Frozen berries are cheap, and there’s not need to worry about them languishing in the back of the fridge going off.
I have a NutriBullet blender and it’s used every single day. I think it’s the only ‘gadget’ I’ve bought in recent years that’s not found its way to the back of the cupboard. Everyone should get one, seriously. School morning have never been so easy :)
Why are berries so great? Glad you asked! They’re loaded with: antioxidants, fibre, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K1, copper and folate. On top of that lot, they may also help: fight inflammation, improve blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol levels, protect against cancer and promote healthy arteries. Phew. Get some of these into the kids, quick!
Also see: Immunity smoothie
Ever had a Papaya? We eat these sometimes and not as often as we should. They’re pretty expensive where I live being very not native to us. I haven’t seen frozen Papaya, but if you have that where you are, stock up on it.
Papaya is super sweet, very kid friendly and I haven’t had a seconds problem getting the kids to eat this when I have bought it. And when the kids were very little they equated Papaya to The Jungle Book, which helped get them to eat it :)
Papaya is great for: Fibre, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium, folate and they also contain a touch of protein.
We like a kiwi in this house! While they’re not something I buy all the time, I do make an extra push to start getting them into the kids before winter as an immunity booster. Mainly we eat these simply sliced in half and scooped out with a tea spoon, but they do need to be very ripe for the kids not to start protesting. If they’re not super ripe, they can be a bit tangy. Again, frozen kiwi is a great addition to smoothies here, as Kiwi contain: Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, potassium and folate.
Eggs. We eat these a lot. Several times a week I cook with eggs, whether that’s in baking, breakfast recipes or a simple egg on toast, and poached eggs are my lots egg of choice. There’s so many ways to use eggs and they’re such a great source of protein that they feature heavily here. We used to keep chickens and so had eggs on tap. Then the foxes came and we don’t have chickens anymore, or eggs on tap.
I always buy free range organic eggs, they’re one of the things I always buy Organic, no matter what. There’s the cruelty thing and the health thing, and the Organic version is so little money extra than the barn egg equivalent, it’s one rule i’m rigid with.
Eggs typically have: up to 7g of high quality protein, iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. They also contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin which help fight disease.
Also see: Scrambled egg on toast
Salmon is a goodun’! I mostly buy fresh, Organic salmon that’s not colored with food dye. If it’s too expensive and my budget doesn’t allow, I’ll buy the best that I can afford, as Salmon is such a good source of goodness when you’re trying to boost immunity.
Here’s what 3.5oz Salmon will do for you: 40% recommended protein intake, Vitamins B3, B5, B6 and B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and selenium. Salmon is also one of the best sources of Omega 3 fatty acids around.
Also see: Salmon and eggs for breakfast
I love legumes. The kids love legumes. We’ve been eating these long before we started Clean eating and I add them to about half of the weeks meals usually. They’re so versatile. If you’re watching your budget, bulk out meals with legume beans and you can turn one meal into two very easily and put one in the freezer. I make burgers, chillis, salads, baked beans, you name it, there’s a bean equivalent.
I don’t stop at savoury foods either, I use beans to make brownies and other sweet stuff. Because they have such a mild flavor for the most part, they’re an easy source of goodness to add without the kids being to aware :)
Legumes are full of nutrients, including: fibre, protein, B vitamins, iron, folate, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Also see: Clean eating homemade baked beans
If your kids are okay eating nuts, they’re a great nutrient source. Some of mine will eat nuts, some don’t like them. I never give these to the kids at school as I’m concerned about other kids with potentially fatal nut allergies, but at home, I do try and add them in where I can. They usually go into cookies or trail mix (search recipe on the site).
What are you gonna get from nuts? Heart healthy polyunsaturated fates and monounsaturated fats, phytosterols, fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, magnesium and potassium.
Also see: Date and nut cookies
I’ve included Oatmeal here because they’re nutrient dense, and you can use them in so many ways. Apart from the usual oatmeal breakfast we (mostly)all know and love, you can blend them into smoothies, grind them into a flour and then use them for muffins etc…so they’re really great to have in your pantry.
And what goodness does oatmeal have in it? They’re higher than most other grains in protein and fibre, and adding some berries to oatmeal and you’ve got a great immune system boosting breakfast!
Also see: Blueberries and cream oatmealGrab the FREE 18 Meal Ideas CHEAT SHEET Here!
Quinoa is one of those grains I used to see as trendy, and I don’t especially do trendy food stuffs, so for a long time I ignored it. And then I started playing around and adding it to recipes and it turns out as mush as 5000 years ago when we believe quinoa was eaten, they knew what they were doing, and now we love it!
Being one of the very few plant foods that contain amino acids, Quinoa also has: Fibre, magnesium, Vitamin B, Iron, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorous, and Vitamin E.
Also see: Quinoa meatballs
Wholegrain flour’s what I use the most, alongside wholegrain rice and pasta. Whole grains are packed with nutrients, including: Fibre, protein, Vitamin B, antioxidants, Iron, Zinc, Copper and Magnesium.
Swapping white pasta and rice for wholegrain was the first change I made to our diet when we started eating Clean, and it’s by far the easiest.
Also see: Wholegrain blueberry muffins
Herbs & Spices
I ?? using herbs and spices in cooking and baking, particularly spices. They add such am amazing flavor to food. Think spiced pumpkin and cinnamon muffins. Mmmmmmm.
Cinnamon is really good for you. Discovered in 2800 B.C, this is one ancient spice and luckily for us, it’s delicious and one of the easiest spices to get kids to eat, mainly because it’s often paired with candy and desserts, but it does mean kids often like the taste of cinnamon and so you can easily make Clean recipes with cinnamon in, and the kids will eat them.
What does cinnamon have to offer us? Cinnamon gives us: Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Vitamin A and more. It’s good :)
Also see: Honey cinnamon yogurt
Some of us in this house aren’t that keen on garlic, with the exception being garlic when it’s in a butter and slathered on bread and baked! And so this is how I get garlic into the kids :) I do add it to some recipes, but one. of my kids is especially sensitive to it so I have to add it in small doses! But…it’s got so many health properties that if they’ll eat garlic bread then that’s what I’m making!
In garlic you’ll find: Lots of Vitamin B6, Manganese, Selenium, Vitamin C. You’ll also find lots of minerals: Phosphorous, Calcium, Potassium, Iron and Coppper.
Also see: Wholemeal garlic bread
Ginger. Spice or herb? The jury’s out. Still, it’s delicious, easy to cook with and can be added to lots of recipes, hot and cold. Gingerbread, muffins, hot dinner recipes, loads of stuff. And it’s properly fgood for you. Oh yes. It’ll give you lots of antioxidant compounds: Beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, zinc to name a few.
Also see: Honey ginger chicken
Turmeric is the spice used to give curry its yellow flavor, and although it’s been used for thousands of years in the East as both a medicine and a spice, in more recent years it’s been studied more for it’s health benefits on the West.
One of the compounds in Turmeric is called Cur-cumin and it’s the main active ingredient in Turmeric. It’s also a great anti inflammatory and anti oxidant. I add Turmeric to whole grain rice and serve it with a curry, or I add a teaspoon to a smoothie. It’s an acquired taste so if you’re new to Turmeric, start small!
Keeping The Kids Immune Heathy
This is a small selection of healthy immunity boosting foods for kids that will give them a boost this Winter. It’s not a comprehensive list of everything included in a healthy diet!