There are many reasons why we call onions Nature’s Ninja and one is because of the role they play in kid’s nutrition and healthy eating. Onions offer nutritional benefits that can improve health now while regularly incorporating them into a healthy diet can ensure they continue to provide health benefits throughout life. Onions supply several key nutrients along with some special compounds that support a healthy body and mind and prevent disease.
How do onions improve kid’s nutrition and healthy eating?
Adding more onions to your meals delivers much needed nutrition for growing bodies and developing minds. Onions are high in vitamin C, a good source of folic acid, and they provide vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, and iron. These nutrients play multiple roles in health. Vitamin C helps us absorb iron. It’s also an antioxidant that protects our cells from damage. Folic acid is important during the growth and development of cells. Vitamin B6 aids brain development while supporting healthy nervous and immune systems. Potassium regulates our heartbeat and keeps our cells functioning as they should. Calcium is important for building strong bones during childhood and adolescence. Iron is essential for growth and development and plays a role in oxygen delivery throughout the body. Onions are also a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber is linked to healthier cholesterol and a reduced risk for some diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
Do onions contain special nutrients that other vegetables don’t provide?
Onions also contain some nutrients that make them extra special. There are three main groups of these nutrients – fructans, flavonoids, and organosulfur compounds. Fructans benefit our gastrointestinal health by supporting the good bacteria that we need in a healthy gut. Onions contain the flavonoid quercetin, an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancers. Allicin is an organosulfur compound. These are the compounds that give onions their taste and smell. Allicin has been linked to the prevention of disease such as cancer.
How can I incorporate more onions for healthy eating?
One great thing about onions is that they fit into every meal. Consider adding them at breakfast. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, research shows that a healthy breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function, such as memory, and improved mood in kids. Try adding a Vegetable Strata with Red Onions and Gruyere or Sweet Onion Quiche Lorraine to your breakfast meal plan. Both can be made ahead of time and reheated on a busy morning.
What’s the best way to prepare onions for picky eaters?
It can be difficult to introduce kids to new foods that deliver unfamiliar flavors and textures. You can ease them into an onion introduction by taming the sometimes sharp, pungent flavor of fresh onions. Cut your onions, then let them soak in ice water in the refrigerator for at least 1 ½ hours, but preferably overnight, before draining the water and incorporating the onions into recipes. Caramelized onions turn sweet, almost like candy, which can be a more appealing flavor for kids. For kids who struggle with textures, consider recipes that puree onions into other ingredients during cooking such as Puerto Rican Recaito which can be used as a base of flavor for other recipes, or in Caramelized Onion and Corn Soup and Curried Onion Apple Soup.
What are some healthy snack options with onions?
Snacks are a great way to incorporate more onions for a boost of nutrition. Thai Salad Rolls are loaded with vegetables and they can be made ahead of time for an afternoon snack. Basil Walnut Sweet Onion Pesto and Caramelized Sweet Onion Hummus are ideal for those who find textures challenging. Both can be paired with fresh cut vegetables or whole grain crackers. Onion Peach Salsa is a fruity snack that goes well with whole grain or cinnamon tortillas chips.
How can I help my kids learn more about onion nutrition?
Exposing kids to educational tools that make learning about nutrition more fun can spark the curiosity to try new foods. Both the Onion Ninja Odyssey Free Downloadable Coloring Book and the Free Activities Book are filled with fun activities and educational information that teach kids about onions and nutrition.
Invite some of Nature’s Ninja into your meal plans and start taking advantage of these nutritional superpowers that onions have to offer.