Having a good immune system will protect our bodies from day to day exposure to many germs and bacteria. We know too many immunity boosting foods. There is a lot of information out there about these variety foods. But when it comes to feeding these to our kids, it’s definitely a big mission. I struggle with giving these different varieties to my 1 yr old daughter. So I started in finding out the simplest way to feed these immunity-boosting foods to my daughter. So here I take the opportunity to share some serving tips on the foods, packed with immune-boosting nutrients to help boost your kid's natural defences.
These varieties are also easy to find at most of the grocery store and easy to prepare. Also, these can be used to keep your whole family healthy.
We all know that green and/or leafy vegetables are good sources of immune boosting nutrients and antioxidants. So here are some top veggies that help in immune boosting.
When we think of green leafy vegetables, spinach is first one to flash in our minds. Spinach is packed with all sorts of vitamins and nutrients to keep bodies functioning well. Spinach densely contains Vitamin A, a key component of white blood cells that fights against infections.
Serving tips: Many moms have trouble feeding spinach as it can taste as nothing when cooked with lentils or stir-fried or even in salads. But one of my favorite ways of feeding spinach to my daughter is by preparing spinach rice, my daughter loves it! You can also add spinach and some mint leaves blended together in any meat recipes, tastes yummy!
This vegetable is becoming extremely popular among Indians now. Why not! This veggie is an excellent source of vitamin C, selenium, natural sulfur compounds; ok the bottom line is broccoli is one amazing veggie.
Serving tips: It is pretty difficult to convince your kids to eat broccoli as a floret. Being an adult I hate to eat broccoli as florets. But if it is served in fun and tasty way like slightly steamed and finely chopped into pasta or noodles or even include this as one of the ingredients as stuffing in their wraps. Also, blended broccoli soup could be a great option, as your kids won't even know they're eating their greens. Remember, to get the most health benefits from your broccoli don’t overcook it.
Cabbage is a great source of glutamine, an amino acid that is essential in maintaining a healthy gut.
Serving tips: Chop it up and sauté it with potatoes or stir-fry with onions. You could use these two varieties as stuffing in wraps too. This could be a good lunch box idea J. Another good way to eat cabbage is by making cabbage soup. If you want you could blend it for young toddlers who may not able to eat cabbage chunks in the soups.
Red tomatoes, in whatever form, are known for being the richest source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant, which protects from the damaging effects of free radicals, and to help boost your child’s immunity. Tomatoes contain plenty of vitamin C and beta-carotene to fortify your kid’s immune function protecting against infections.
Serving tips: One has endless choices in using tomatoes in their food. You could use them in salads, soups, pasta or pasta sauce, pizza, rice, stir-fry or simply eat raw, my daughter loves it raw J. Only limit is your imagination.
Button mushrooms are very high in selenium, which can fight severe flu symptoms.
Serving tips: Slice and sauté them in olive oil, which tastes and smells amazing. Could also add some slices in salads and wraps.
Garlic is well-known to be the best immune boosting ingredient, which could be included in almost in any recipes. It has been also known as one of nature's best medicines for centuries. It is an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant. It is popular not only for its immune boosting powers, but it also enhances flavor of meals.
Serving tips: like tomatoes, garlic can be used in about every recipe and in any form. You could use it raw in any kind of dips, soups, spaghetti, pastas, as garlic bread and in any stir-fries. Also, if garlic is served raw or added at the near end of your cooking, its immune enhancing antioxidants are retained to the fullest.
Fruits can be exciting with kids. But which ones is the immune boosting? Here are some options:
Berries that are bright and juicy like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are high in vitamin C and flavonoids, which are antioxidants that help, protect cells against injury.
Serving tips: here is some good news; these naturally sweet berries don't need much dressing up to make them attractive or mouth-watering. You just have to either, cut and serve them as it is or with some vanilla yogurt or in their breakfast cereal. Also not very unfamiliar but you can also make some delicious smoothies too.
Lemon and Oranges
Lemon and Oranges are one of the most inexpensive and easily available fruits with some amazing benefits to our health. These fruits are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, which can improve the immune system.
Serving tips: you could just squeeze some lemon on a salad or make a juice with some honey. Serve oranges as a whole or as juice.
Apart from being full of water, a natural body cleanser, watermelon is another great source of healing antioxidants.
Serving tips: there is no need to present it in any different way as this fruit is loved by most of the kids for sure.
Yogurts have probiotics or you could say good bacteria which protect against gastrointestinal illnesses and may help increase the body's resistance to colds and other infections. Yogurts are now easily available in any super-markets and in different flavours too. But always look for products that say they contain live cultures. "If it's separated when you open it, and there's a little liquid on top, that's a good sign," says Leo A. Heitlinger MD, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics section on gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition. Yogurt is also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin-vitamin B2, iodine, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid-vitamin B5, zinc, potassium, protein and molybdenum.
Serving tips: With the availability of different flavored yogurt can be your kids’ favorite dessert. You could also serve it with some nuts, berries or honey drizzled on top.
Oily fish like salmon and tuna are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help supercharge our white blood cells, which fight infections in our body. These are also rich in selenium and zinc, which are important minerals for giving the immune system a boost.
Serving tips: Salmon and tuna even from a can – could be tossed with olive oil and make some pasta or a sandwich or a wrap. You could also blend and add some cream and use it as a bread spread.
Nuts are loaded with immunity-boosting vitamins and minerals. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, which can ward off upper-respiratory infections, and they are great at boosting energy levels as well. Walnuts have healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Peanuts in addition to their monounsaturated fat (good fat) content, peanuts are good sources of vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein and manganese.
Serving tips: try almond or peanut butter (the ones with no hydrogenated or trans fats) on bread slices or simply sprinkle them over their yogurts or in their cereals. Remember not to give your young toddler whole nuts since they could pose a choking hazard. Instead, you could blend these nuts into their smoothie or powder them in their cereals.
P.S: check with your pediatrician before giving your child any nut products for the first time — nut allergic reactions can be very dangerous, even life-threatening.
Some general tips:
- The above mentioned lists of foods are not the end of all immunity boosting and healthy foods.
- Try to give a wide range of healthy foods. Don’t just hung up with yours or kids' favorite ones.
- More is never better. If strawberry is a super fruit that doesn’t mean your kid should eat 10.
- Remember, no food is a miracle food. If your child gets sick, it doesn’t mean that you did not give him/her a diet which was healthy enough. Kids with developing immune systems are constantly exposed to vulnerable environments. And these foods help to prevent or reduce the number or incidences of falling ill.
- Try to give the foods in its original form or as a whole. Sure, watermelon juice also has antioxidants too, but watermelon as a whole; along with its nutrient values their fiber content can do wonders to your kids’ bodies.