What Can My Kids Eat That’s Unprocessed?
Processed, unprocessed, pasteurized, raw. What does it all mean? With so many terms describing foods and a busy mom schedule, it can be overwhelming to know what’s safe for your kids to eat. We’re here to crack the code on unprocessed foods.
What Are Unprocessed Foods?
Unprocessed foods are foods that haven’t been altered. This simply means they are foods in their purest form. They’re totally natural and contain tons of health benefits. In fact, unprocessed foods will keep your kids healthy and strong while they grow.
Eating unprocessed foods helps ensure an overall well-balanced diet and healthy lifestyle for both your kids and you. Processed foods, while easy and quick, contain many hidden things like sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Processed sugar sneaks into prepared foods like breads, snacks, drinks and frozen meals. The problem with processed sugar is that it contains no nutritional value. And 1 in 10 Americans consume 25% or more of their calories from processed sugar. That’s a lot of empty calories!
Almost all foods in their natural form are safe for kids. When thinking about unprocessed foods for your hungry kids, make sure you hit these food groups:
Raw, unprocessed fruits are key in fighting off those playground germs. Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C, which helps support the immune system and also keeps teeth and gums happy. Fruits are high in fiber, potassium and folate too.
Just how much unprocessed fruit do your kids need? According the USDA guidelines:
- Ages 2 to 3 need 1 cup
- 4 to 8 need 1 to ½ cups
- 9 to 13 year olds need 1½ cup of fruit.
While it may be tempting to grab precut fruit from the store, buying the raw, unprocessed fruit is the best way to know you’re getting just fruit, nothing added to lengthen shelf life, make it taste sweeter, or hold its color longer. Try purchasing whole apples, melons, oranges and other fruits and chopping them on your own. Add this into your weekly meal prep and you’ll have healthy snacks ready to go.
Full of nutrients that aid digestion, strengthen bones and support the immune system, vegetables keep your kids strong and healthy. Unprocessed vegetables contain vitamins A, B, E, C and K and are full of calcium, fiber, magnesium and potassium. They’re essential in keeping those growing bodies healthy and strong. Feeding your kids raw and natural veggies ensures that they will get all the nutrients possible!
The USDA recommends:
- Kids ages 2 to 3 have 1 cup of veggies daily
- Ages 4 to 8 should have 1 ½ cup daily
- Ages 9 to 13 should have 2 cups.
Try out these tips for getting your kids to love their vegetables and make sure they’re getting the daily dose.
Avoiding processed sugar may seem daunting with so many delicious recipes out there. But you don’t have to give up on those favorite dishes to avoid processed sugar. Finding a natural, unprocessed alternative allows you to keep all of your favorite recipes but add nutritional value to your dishes too.
Raw honey is the perfect processed sugar alternative. Full of nutrients and enzymes, honey sweetens your dishes and drinks and keeps your body happy. Selecting an unprocessed honey option, like Nature Nate’s (bright orange label), is so important. Otherwise, those enzymes and nutrients could be pasteurized or filtered out. Unfiltered honey is perfectly safe for kids to eat after they turn one (not safe for babies)! Plus it’s a sweet treat, and we know how kids feel about those!
Oftentimes, snack foods geared toward kids come in bright vibrant colors and playful shapes. Despite appealing to your kids, these foods tend to be highly processed. But moving to unprocessed foods doesn’t mean your kids can’t enjoy colorful, fun-shaped food! Nature is full of vibrantly colored foods you can arrange in all types of shapes. Plus, you can find unprocessed options to cook yourself (maybe even with the kids’ help). Making these foods at home ensures your kids are getting unprocessed foods full of nutritional value.
Try this recipe for Honey Energy Gummies and this Homemade Fruit Snacks recipe.