Top 10 healthy foods for your family

You want the very best for yourself, and your family, but sometimes it's easiest to buy the "cheapest," most convenient food items. Not only can healthy eating be inexpensive it is delicious and fun.

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  • You've probably been hearing about the importance of healthy eating for as long as you can remember. Children learn about it in grade school, and it continues through high school and beyond. However, if you're struggling to find easy, inexpensive ways to feed your family a healthy diet, here are my top 10 healthy food recommendations for your family:

  • 1. Sweet Potatoes

  • These orange super-foods (full of vitamins A and C) aren't just for Thanksgiving dinner. Sweet potato fries (here and here) are my family's go-to side, and I love knowing that they are getting the nutrients they deserve.

  • 2. Lentils and beans

  • I hadn't eaten a lentil before in my life until a few weeks ago when we tried this "meatless meatloaf", and I am completely sold. Lentils are delicious, hearty, and filling; low in calories but packed with protein. Beans are another excellent source of protein, and they are incredibly versatile. Use them in soups, tacos, and hummus, or try out these roasted chickpeas.

  • 3. Bananas

  • If you're looking for a naturally sweetened, potassium-filled super fruit, stock up on bananas. They make an excellent addition to breakfast cereals and smoothies as well as a perfect afternoon snack. Jazzing them up like this may entice your children more than ever.

  • 4. Nuts

  • and seeds

  • A handful of nuts are one of my children's favorite snacks. They enjoy eating cashews, pistachios, almonds, and walnuts. Because I know that they are rich in monounsaturated fat (a healthy fat) we limit them to a small handful every day. Incorporating seeds (like chia, hemp, flax, and sesame) is another way to easily sneak in some added nutrition.

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  • 5. Quinoa

  • (pronounced KEEN-wah.) A tiny seed/grain jam-packed with essential amino acids and protein, this is one you should definitely consider. They are great in soups, as a "meat-extender," or used in place of rice.

  • 6. Greens: Kale, spinach, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts

  • We know that veggies are good for you, but these are some of the best. Full of vitamins A, C, and K and fiber (among many other things) you can't go wrong with adding these to your daily menus. If you've never cooked with these vegetables before try these recipes for kale, spinach, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.

  • 7. Steel-cut Oats

  • Filled with vitamin B, protein, calcium, and fiber this is an excellent alternative to boxed cereals, or to change up your daily bowl of oatmeal. I love mine topped with a little maple syrup and fresh berries.

  • 8. Dates

  • This underutilized fruit is teeming with dietary fiber, iron, and potassium. If you are unsure how to incorporate them into your diet, try sprinkling them on top of your steel-cut oats, or consider some of these suggestions.

  • 9. Onions

  • Onions have a pretty bad image among most people. Aside from their flavor-enhancing qualities, they are incredibly good for you. If you have picky eaters, finely dice them and start with a little at a time.

  • 10. Berries

  • Ilove a good berry. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. are full of antioxidants and are a wonderful way to share some nutrition with your kids.

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  • Whether you've tried everything on the list or not, pick out something to grab at the grocery store, and rest easy, knowing that you've done a little more to contribute to the well-being of your entire family (including yourself).

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Jessie McKinley is a city girl living in a small town. A graduate in Home and Family Living, she now puts her knowledge to use daily as she teaches and raises her two young children, whom she adores.

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