How to feed your family superfoods


Superfoods are the opposite of junk food--every mouthful is good for you. Trisha Calvo of Shape Magazine explains how to get your family to eat more superfoods.

How to feed your family superfoods

Superfoods are high in disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They act as shields to the cell damage that occurs everyday in your body.

  • Vegetable super-foods include spinach, beans, chickpeas, carrots. They have lots of fiber and different vitamins and minerals. It’s not easy to get kids to eat a superfood like sautéed spinach, but if you pair it with something they already like, like raisins, the kids may be more likely to eat it.
  • Fruit superfoods include watermelon, kiwi, oranges, all citrus fruits, apples.
  • Your kids may prefer raw fruit and vegetables, but they don’t have to be raw to be good for you. In fact, when you cook a vegetable the nutrients become more absorbable to your body. Also, adding olive oil or parmesan cheese helps your body absorb the nutrients in vegetables.
  • Another choice for kids to make home fries, which is basically baking or roasting red potatoes, hopefully with the skin on, because they’re less fatty. You can also make sweet potato fries for your kids, which are a super-food, lower in bad carbs than white potatoes, and they have lots of nutrients.
  • Roasting vegetables is a good option because it brings out the sweetness in the vegetables and makes it kid-friendly. Try roasted carrots and chickpeas—toss them with olive oil, sprinkle a little cinnamon, put them in a 400 degree oven until the carrots are tender.

JENNIFER: Hi I'm Jennifer Morris for howdini. If you put a lot of effort and shopping into cooking for your family, you want to make sure you're not just feeding them a bunch of empty calories. So Trisha Calvo said one way to do that is by focusing on something called super-foods. Trisha is the executive editor of Shape magazine and she joins us here today. Thanks for being here.

TRISHA: Oh you're welcome.

JENNIFER: So what exactly is a super-food?

TRISHA: A super-food is--it sounds crazy, but it's really basically a food that high in one or more disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants. And what super-foods do is that they act like little shields to the kind of cell damage that occurs on a normal basis everyday within your body, both from cell activity as well as the kind of damage that can occur from UV light, pollution, whatever. The vitamins and minerals in these super-foods and the antioxidants--

JENNIFER: It's like a multi-vitamin, but in a food.

TRISHA: In a food and it acts like a little shield and it really does protect your body against diseases like heart disease, cancer, can help prevent aging. You know wrinkled skin--

JENNIFER: I like that.

TRISHA: A whole host of things. Really they make a huge difference to your health.

JENNIFER: And what exactly would be an example of a super-food, like spinach or--

TRISHA: Spinach is a good example--

JENNIFER: That one I knew.

TRISHA: Beans. Beans that come in a can like chickpeas. Then kidney beans; they're super-foods. Carrots...


TRISHA: They all tend to have lots of fiber and different vitamins and minerals that are disease-fighting.

JENNIFER: Okay and how do we make a super-food family-friendly?

TRISHA: Yeah, well like take the spinach. Which you know sauteed spinach is a super-food, but not a lot of kids like sauteed spinach. So one of the things that you can do is pair a super-food that your kid may not be familiar with with something that they already like. So you can cook sauteed spinach and put it with raisins; they go really well together.


TRISHA: And the kids may be more apt to try it because they see the raisins there; they feel more comfortable.

JENNIFER: Right and do they have to be raw super-foods to be as healthy?

TRISHA: No absolutely not. The only thing with children is that children sometimes prefer raw fruits and vegetables and that's fine. They'll get tons and tons of nutrients from it, but when you cook a vegetable it breaks down the cell walls which makes the nutrients in that food more absorbable to your body.

JENNIFER: Oh I didn't know that.

TRISHA: Yeah and then the other thing that you can do too--people are like very fat phobic, but fat actually helps you absorb some of the antioxidants in foods that are fat soluable. So a little drizzle of olive oil, a little sprinkle of parmesan cheese on foods where that's appropriate.

JENNIFER: So some kids will only eat french fries. How can we make french fries more of a super-food?

TRISHA: Well I wouldn't say that french fries are a vegetable, but children do like them and potatoes are a vegetable. Now potatoes aren't technically a super-food, but they are very very nutritious. One way that you can make them healthier for your children is to make home-fries where you basically just take a red potato, you cut it into chunks or strips, you sprinkle it with a little salt and olive oil, and you bake it in the oven. It's almost a little bit like roasted french fries. You just have that sprinkling of fat. You don't have, you know, it's fat-loaded. Maybe kids will eat it with the skin which contains more nutrients and that's much more helpful. And another idea with french fries, and kids love these, are sweet potato fries. Sweet potatoes are a super-food. They have a lot of beta carotene, they have a lot of fiber, and they are lower in what they call the bad carbs than regular potatoes are. So children love the sweet flavor. You can make home-fries with sweet potatoes and it's a really nice way to try to get your kids more nutritious vegetables in their diet.

JENNIFER: Okay so what about fruit? Is that a super-food?

TRISHA: Fruit absolutely counts and of course children love fruit. A chunk of watermelon, that's a super-food. It's high in lycopene that protects against various types of cancer. Kiwi fruit which children also love because it's so fun to look at and so pretty and that's really high in vitamin C and fiber. Oranges, citruses are all super-foods. They are a great option for children. Apples even count. They have a component called kiersatin that is an antioxidant that really does protect against disease. They also have a lot of soluable fiber which helps lower cholesterol levels.

JENNIFER: So in terms of cooking super-foods, how about roasting them?

TRISHA: Yes, roasting vegetables is actually an excellent option because it really brings out the sweetness in all vegetables. You can roast anything from green beans to asparagus to onions to carrots and it really makes it much more kid-friendly because they just love that sweet flavor and it gets really caramelized and that's a wonderful way to do it. One of my favorite super-food combos that children love is roasted carrots and chickpeas. And you would think that's a weird combination, but it's really delicious and terrific and loaded with fiber and beta carotene and all you do is toss is with a little bit of olive oil, sprinkle everything with a little cinnamon, put it in a 400 degree oven. Probably for about fifteen to twenty minutes until the carrots get tender and you've got this amazing combination food that children will just gobble up I promise.

JENNIFER: Thanks so much Trisha Calvo. I'm Jennifer Morris for howdini.

meet theexpert
  • Trisha Calvo

    Trisha Calvo Executive Editor, Shape Magazine Trisha Calvo has been a health and nutrition editor for more than 15 years, joining Shape in 2005 as deputy editor for health and nutrition and became the executive editor in 2006. more about this expert »

This month: cold prevention