Don’t get us wrong—we’re all for nutrient-packed leafy greens. But there are only so many days in a row we can dish up kale before we (and our kids) want a break. Nutritionist Amy Shapiro, founder of Real Nutrition NYC and mom of three, reveals the hottest superfoods right now—and shares ideas for how to work them into the mealtime mix.
Hemp hearts: They’ve been getting buzz, and for good reason. “Hemp hearts are a great source of protein, B vitamins, and heart healthy fats, and they have a nice nutty flavor that easily mixes into yogurt, cereal, granola, and smoothies for toddlers,” Shapiro says. “They’re perfect for kids who turn their noses up at protein.”
Tempeh (pictured): Beyond being a great source of protein, tempeh is a fermented food. “Fermented foods help fill our bellies with good bacteria to prevent autoimmune disease, ease digestion, improve regularity, decrease side effects of stress, and prevent obesity,” Shapiro says. She recommends tossing it into stir-fries, crumbling it into baked ziti, cubing it for lunch boxes, or slicing it thin for sandwiches.
Teff: “This is a high-fiber ancient grain that’s gluten-free, full of protein, and loaded with iron, vitamin C, and calcium. It also tastes good—similar to millet but a bit sweeter, and it cooks in just 20 minutes,” Shapiro explains. She likes teff as an alternative to quinoa or couscous, and cooks it with low-sodium chicken or veggie broth for added flavor. She also adds it to soups, bakes it into muffins, and prepares it like oatmeal with milk.
Nutritional yeast: Shapiro says this is a fantastic source of vitamin B12. “Just 1 tablespoon gives you your daily B12 requirement. It’s perfect for vegan [or super-picky!] children, since we generally only get B12 from animal products, or for kids who are on a no-protein diet,” says Shapiro. It also has 9 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons. Shapiro suggests incorporating nutritional yeast into a child’s diet by sprinkling it on veggie chips, popcorn, salads, soups, eggs, or greens.
Bee pollen: This powerhouse contains all 22 amino acids (the building blocks of protein), plus vitamin B12, and provides a natural energy boost. Shapiro adds it to yogurt, smoothies, and oatmeal. Check with your doctor before adding it to your diet if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or to a child’s diet, as it’s risky for anyone with pollen allergies.