This is Part 2 in my Healthy Eating Series – read all about it here.
Do you talk with friends about whether to “trick” your kids into eating healthy foods, versus teaching them about what is healthy and letting them know full-on that they’re eating well? When I’ve had these conversations, my friends and I usually agree that we try a combo approach of both tactics.
I think “nutritional boosters” offer that kind of compromise. Boosters are add-ins that you can include in dishes like hot and cold cereal, salads, sauces and drinks. Boosters can also be alternatives to ingredients that American cuisine tends to use a lot of, like regular flour or pasta.
The thing I like about boosters is that when you know how to use them, they can give you a lot of flexibility in your eating and cooking. And that’s a key lesson about healthy eating: variety. Changing up what you eat not only keeps you interested in what you put into your body, but it also gives you different benefits that you might miss if you eat the same meals week after week.
So, in the mornings if I’m having cereal, I’ll sprinkle things like ground flaxseed, chia seed or chopped walnuts into the bowl. My daughter gets some boosters mixed into her applesauce – one way I just add it in without a full-on discussion about healthy eating. For a lunch or dinner meal, I love to add finely chopped kale for the mega-green veggie boost. And, sometimes I’ll use quinoa or cous cous for extra protein and grain variety every now and then, and my daughter does see then that the grain differs from a pasta. Smoothies are a great way to put lots of these boosters in, under the guise of a fruity flavored beverage. While always tricking kids into eating certain foods isn’t a great approach for lifelong habits, boosters give you some leeway in broaching the topic.
Here’s my cheat sheet of nutritional boosters that I keep handy in the house. Change up eating, and enjoy!
Nutritional boosters, grains, and flours – put these in clear containers for easy use
|Benefits||How to Use||Where to Find it in Vienna (and similarly elsewhere)|
|Flaxseed (ground)||Healthy fats, linegans||Mix into yogurt, cereal, baking if ground; can also mix in whole seeds||Anywhere, or Whole Foods bulk aisle. More versatile in ground style, rather than whole seeds. Keep in the fridge.|
|Wheat germ (ground)||Healthiest part of wheat – healthy grains||Mix into yogurt, cereal, baking if ground||Anywhere, or Whole Foods bulk aisle|
|Chia seeds (ground)||Omega 3 fats||Mix into yogurt, cereal, baking if ground||Whole Foods refrigerated|
|Teff flour||Healthy grains – Ethopian||Can substitute for baking but it’s very dense – use way less than regular flour. Read bag.||Whole Foods, Healthway Health Food Store|
|Brown rice flour||Gluten free alternative||Susbstitute when baking for a change||Whole Foods, Healthway|
|Whey protein||Protein||Good in smoothies or milk||Whole Foods, Trader Joes – in canisters, and comes in different flavors (plain, vanilla, chocolate)|
|Quinoa (“keen-wah”)||Protein, only grain with all 13 amino acids, wheat-free||Versatile. Savory for dinner when cook with soup stock or just plain with food, or sweet for breakfast with raisins, honey. Sprinkle cooked into salads.||Everywhere, even BJs|
|Wheatgrass||Healthy greens||Add juice to smoothies, or buy already in smoothie (like Naked brand). Also in pill form.||Whole Foods, even BJs|
|Kale||Super green – loads of vitamins.||Chop kurly kale in food processor. Freeze or sprinkle cooked or uncooked into things like eggs, soups, stews, pasta sauce. Instant boost!||Everywhere. Organic is best. Can get frozen in some places.|
|Ground nuts||Healthy fats||*If not allergic* Mix into yogurt, cereal, baking if ground. Not too much or it makes a paste.||Anywhere, Trader Joes|
Note: The above information is offered as food for thought (pun intended), and I’ve compiled this information based on my learning gathered from places like ExperienceLife.com and the Omega Institute. These are suggestions for healthy eating based on my personal experience. Readers should consult their own health care professionals and consider their own health situations when adopting changes to their eating and dietary lifestyles. In other words: I’m not responsible for anything bad that may happen to you as a result of you trying my suggestions! Be smart, live well.