Flu season has been particularly bad this year—what should I be feeding my kids to help boost their immune systems?

Cold and flu season means it’s time to load up the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E!  Here are some food recommendations that are natural immune boosters and popular with kids:

  • Whole Grains such as oats and quinoa are rich in antioxidants and dietary fiber, which kids don’t typically get enough of.  Simply cook with a ratio of one cup grains to 2 cups water.
  • Berries are antioxidant powerhouses and kids LOVE them.  Buy them frozen this time of year and add them to smoothies and pancakes.
  • Sweet Potato is deliciously sweet and loaded with vitamin A.  Make my Sweet Potato Pancakes this weekend for breakfast and freeze the extras. Reheat for easy breakfasts throughout the week.
  • Almonds and Almond Butter are super high in vitamin E.  If your child doesn’t have nut allergies, spread this delish nut butter on whole wheat toast for snack.
  • Oranges – One orange or grapefruit provides more than enough vitamin C for an entire day!  Grapefruits may be a bit tart for kids, but they’ll be very happy with a plate of orange wedges.
  • Red or green bell pepper – One raw sweet red bell pepper actually has more than two days’ worth of vitamin C, and the green variety has about 150% of the daily value (DV).  Slice them up and serve with hummus or white bean dip.
  • Kiwi – Kids usually get a kick out of kiwi: it’s bright green, sweet and tender, and has cool fuzzy skin!  Slice kiwis in half and dig in with a spoon for some C.  You can eat the skin or leave it behind.
  • Cauliflower – Looks like it’s time for some of Mike’s Sicilian Stew to load up on cold-busting cauliflower!
  • Parsnips – Because there’s nothing like chicken noodle soup to get you through the sniffles, be sure to serve up some of our Homemade Chicken Penicillin Soup, full of immunity-boosting parsnips.
  • Bonus: Yogurt is high in probiotics, which are important immune boosters.  Just make sure you can read the ingredients to avoid added sugars and food dyes.

Check out my TV segment that visually walks you through a variety of foods (for adults, too!) and their benefits for the cold & flu season.  In addition to loading up on super foods, make sure that kids are getting plenty of sleep at night.  This is one of the most important things you can do to help your body feel refreshed and strong to fight off the flu season.  Hope you’re staying warm and healthy this winter!


– Stacey Antine, MS RD, author, Appetite for Life and founder, HealthBarn USA

What puzzles you about keeping your family healthy?  Tell us what’s on your mind by emailing [email protected].  Stacey will answer those questions here weekly.

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