Small tummies fill up quickly, so you want to make sure every bite is full of nutrition! This can be a challenge because your child’s food choices may be limited either by what they CAN safely eat or what they are willing to eat. Sometimes it may seem like their most desired foods are chips and crackers or sweet treats and cereal. These foods are often highly processed and usually low in vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and fat– all nutrients that growing children need. For kids with multiple food allergies on an elimination diet, good nutrition can still be achieved. Be sure to offer fresh fruits and vegetables and combine foods that are lacking nutrition with foods that are naturally nutrition-packed or fortified.
How do you do that?
- Spreads and dips are a great way to add nutrition to chips, crackers and sandwiches. Any kind of bean makes a great high protein, high fiber spread or dip. Try refried pinto beans with salsa or avocado, garbanzo beans with lemon juice and garlic. Vegan mayonnaise can also be a good base for a dip or spread. Boost the nutrition of vegan mayonnaise by adding mashed avocado and/or mashed beans with one tablespoon Neocate Jr for every tablespoon of mayonnaise. Adding unflavored Neocate Jr with probiotics works well for savory dips and spreads and not only adds vitamins, minerals, protein and fat but prebiotics also helps to feed the good bacteria in the your child’s intestine. Strawberry or chocolate Neocate Jr can be mixed with coconut cream or non-dairy yogurt for a sweet dip.
- Vegan cheeses made from rice or tapioca are great for adding variety but do not have the nutrients your child need. Serve with a slice of meat or fortify your condiments, mix unflavored Neocate Jr with probiotics with vegan cream cheese or mayonnaise.
- Trail mix is a great snack, include gluten-free pretzels, cereal, freeze dried fruits and if allowable sunflower seeds for protein. Look for wheat-free cereals that are fortified.
- Homemade baked goods are easy to “home-fortify.” Use sunflower butter for 1/2 of the fat in cookie recipes; add chopped raisins or other dried fruit to cookies or muffins. Create custom cookie or muffin flavors by adding a few scoops of flavored Neocate Jr to your favorite recipes. Find guidance on cooking with Neocate Jr here
- Smoothies and shakes can be good meal replacements but only if the shake or smoothie contains not only fruits and veggies but also fat and protein. Toss in some avocado or 2-3 scoops of Neocate Jr to keep your child ready to play and learn.
-Patricia Novak MPH RD CLE LD
Today’s guest blog post is by Patricia Novack. Patricia has 30 years experience working with children and adolescents with autism, developmental disabilities, food allergies and chronic illness. Her work includes clinical practice in both hospital and community based programs, professional training and curriculum development. The common thread throughout has been addressing feeding issues in children from infancy through adolescence.