12 high-fiber foods (and recipes!) kids will actually eat

Oct. 17, 2018
12 high-fiber foods (and recipes!) kids will actually eat

What would your kid prefer for a snack: a Pop-Tart or a cup of bran cereal? High-fiber foods for kids are so valuable for nutrition, but getting kids to eat them is another story. Fiber isn't the most exciting ingredient, but it aids in digestion, prevents constipation and helps fight conditions like heart disease.

It’s essential for "satiety and to keep your child's bowels regular," says Katie Serbinski, a registered dietitian and creator of the blog Mom to Mom Nutrition.

How much fiber do children need?

The Daily Reference Intakes (DRI) recommends the following daily fiber intake for children:

  • Toddlers (1-3 years old): 19 grams of fiber a day.

  • Young children (4-8 years old): 25 grams of fiber a day.

  • Older girls and teens (9-18 years old): 26 grams of fiber a day.

  • Older boys (9-13 years old): 31 grams of fiber a day.

  • Teen boys (14-18 years old): 38 grams of fiber a day.

12 foods to add to your child’s diet to increase fiber intake

Most children get only half of the recommended daily fiber intake. Just by adding certain foods into their daily diet, you’ll be able to quickly increase the amount of healthy fiber your children are getting each day. Increase the amount of fiber your kids are eating slowly to prevent bloating and general discomfort. As you add in more fiber gradually each day, your child’s body will adjust to the new amounts.

There are lots of tasty foods bursting with fiber that kids will actually eat. Adding the 12 foods below to your child's menu is a good way to ensure that she is getting her recommended daily fiber intake.

1. Apples

"Most children don't eat enough fruits and vegetables," says Janice Newell Bissex, a registered dietitian, author and co-creator of the blog Meal Makeover Moms. A small apple with the skin has 3.6 grams of fiber and is sweet enough that most kids will readily eat it up.

Try these recipes:

  • Breakfast, Healthy Apple Muffins: This recipe uses whole wheat flour, which will punch up the fiber amount even more.

  • Lunch, Grilled Apple and Peanut Butter Sandwich: The peanut butter adds even more fiber to this healthy and kid-friendly lunch.

  • Dinner, Harvest Soup: Apples and squash team up to make this soup healthy and a definite palate-pleaser.

  • Snack: Spread peanut butter on apple slices for an easy after school snack. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try these fun Crunchy Apple Boats.

2. Berries

With 4 grams of fiber per half-cup serving, raspberries are a kid-friendly and top berry source of fiber. A 1/2-cup of blueberries delivers 1.8 grams, and a 1/2 cup of strawberries supplies 1.5 grams of fiber. Serve berries with low-fat plain yogurt and a drizzle of honey to make them a kid-friendly snack or side dish.

Try these recipes:

3. Pears

Often overshadowed by other fall favorites, pears are sweet and completely versatile. Not to mention, a medium-sized pear with the skin has 5.5 grams of fiber!

Try these recipes:

  • Breakfast, Warm Pears and Baked French Toast: Prep this breakfast ahead of time the night before and just throw it in the oven when you wake up.

  • Lunch, Grilled Turkey, Pear and Brie Sandwiches: This recipe calls for a creamy Brie, but just about any cheese will play off of the sweetness of the pear wonderfully.

  • Dinner, Pork and Pears: Serve this old-school favorite with a side of brown rice for added nutrients. Kids and adults alike will love this hearty dinner.

  • Snack, Pear Fruit Donuts: Get creative with these healthy “doughnuts” by coloring the yogurt spread with food coloring. Let your little one decorate her doughnut (and maybe one for you, too!)

4. Bananas

There aren't too many kids who aren't willing to eat a banana, and a medium-sized one supplies 3.1 grams of fiber.

Try these recipes:

  • Breakfast, Banana Bread Pancakes: This has more fiber than a traditional pancake and is just as kid-friendly. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a tried and true banana bread recipe either.

  • Lunch, Banana and Peanut Butter Sweet Potato Sandwiches: This kid-friendly recipe uses roasted sweet potato slices instead of bread, making it even more healthy for your little one.

  • Dinner, Banana Dog Bites: Use your child’s favorite nut or seed butter for these dogs, and serve them with a side of fresh veggies for a high-fiber vegetarian meal.

  • Snack: These Banana Pops can be served for breakfast, but they make for an easy and yummy after-school snack, as well. Or, go crazy and get your kid’s favorite topping choices together to make this Banana Sushi recipe.

5. Green Peas

A 1/2-cup serving of cooked green peas adds 4.4 grams of fiber to your child's meal.

Try these recipes:

  • Breakfast, Green Pea Fritters: Simple to prepare, these pea fritters make for a high-fiber, savory breakfast.

  • Lunch, One-Pot Mac and Cheese with Peas: What kid doesn’t love a creamy bowl of mac and cheese? This one has enough fiber to make mom feel good about lunch, too.

  • Dinner, Green Peas Mashed Potato Pancakes: Peas make for a fantastic side dish to a main event, such as grilled or baked chicken. But if your child isn’t crazy about peas, try sneaking them into a side, like these mashed potato pancakes. If your kid is a pea lover, try a pea-filled main dish, like this yummy Instant Pot Pea Soup.

  • Snack: These Crunchy Roasted Green Peas could not be easier to make and are a wonderful high-fiber snack option for kids.

6. Carrots

Carrots are a great source of fiber, whether they’re cooked or served raw. One cup of chopped, raw carrots contains almost 4 grams of fiber, and cooked carrots come in even higher at 5 grams per cup.

Try these recipes:

  • Breakfast, Healthy Carrot Cake Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies: Tell your kids they’re getting cookies for breakfast and they’ll think they won the lottery. With carrots and oats in these cookies, both high in fiber, you’ll be as happy to serve them as your kids will be to eat them.

  • Lunch, Carrot Cake and Zucchini Bread Sandwich Sushi: You can let your imagination run wild with these, and try adding in different fruits and spreadable cheese options.

  • Dinner, Creamy Carrot Soup: Designed with kids in mind, this recipe is ideal for your little helpers to assist in the kitchen. This carrot soup is incredibly nutritious and will keep them warm on a cold night.

  • Snack: Baby carrots dipped in ranch dressing or a healthy hummus are easy and well-loved snacks if you’re short on time. If you’re looking for something a little more special, these Mini Carrot Cheesecakes are adorable, delicious and snack-sized.

7. Corn

A healthy and fiber-rich side dish, corn is also something most children are more than happy to eat. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked corn has 1.8 grams of fiber.

Try these recipes:

  • Breakfast, Simple Golden Cornbread: Make this recipe as a bread and serve slices or make a batch of muffins. A cup of whole kernels goes into this one, so you know you are getting the real deal.

  • Lunch, Edamame and Sweet Corn Succotash: This sweet and colorful dish is also high in protein, thanks to the edamame. Serve it with kid-friendly chicken tenders for a nutrient-rich lunch.

  • Dinner, Sweet Corn, Zucchini and Fresh Mozzarella Pizza: Kids love pizza, and this recipe takes pizza to a whole new level. Ideal in the warmer months when fresh zucchini abounds, you can make your own pizza dough or simply purchase a ready-to-cook pizza shell.

  • Snack, Corn Cookies: This recipe is inspired by the famous corn cookies made at Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City. They’re so delicious, you’ll want to save some for yourself.

8. Whole wheat Breads

Whole wheat breads are an easy way to boost your child's fiber intake, Bissex says. A slice of whole wheat bread contains 1.9 grams of fiber. So, if you serve a sandwich with two slices, your child will consume nearly 4 grams of fiber.

Try these recipes:

  • Breakfast, Whole Wheat Cinnamon Crunch Banana Bread: The absolute easiest way to add whole wheat bread to your child’s breakfast is to make a simple side of toast. But if you’re feeling adventurous, try this banana bread. The combination of whole wheat and bananas packs a massive fiber punch, and the recipe includes other nutritious ingredients, like greek yogurt. Bonus: There’s a blueberry banana bread version, too!

  • Lunch, Honey Almond Butter and Berries Sandwich: Take pretty much any ingredients and put them between two slices of whole wheat bread, and you have a fiber-friendly lunch. This recipe has the added bonus of high-fiber berries. Use any nut or seed butter your child prefers.

  • Dinner, Whole Wheat Calzones: Make a batch of these kid-friendly calzones, and throw some in the freezer for a quick dinner option whenever you need them.

  • Snack, Mini Whole Wheat Pancake Muffins: From mini chocolate chips to blueberries or nuts, you can pick your own add-ins for these whole wheat snack bites.

9. Whole Wheat Pasta

Similarly, Bissex recommends whole wheat pasta as another item to add to your list of high-fiber foods for kids. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked whole wheat pasta contains about 2 grams of fiber. Serve it combined with cooked vegetables, low-sodium sauce and a sprinkle of cheese for a fiber-rich meal that supplies a good dose of vitamin A and calcium.

Try these recipes:

  • Lunch, Whole Wheat Pasta Primavera: Picky kids can turn their noses up at whole wheat pasta, but adding cheese usually increases your odds for success. This lunch dish has just enough cheese to make finicky eaters happy, but not so much that it’s heavy. Ribbons of veggies make it super nutritious.

  • Dinner, Cheesy Baked Penne with Chicken and Broccoli: Hearty enough to serve as a main dish for dinner, this cheesy high-fiber pasta dish comes with additional protein and vitamins.

10. Whole Grain Cereal

With 9.1 grams of fiber per 1/3-cup serving, bran cereals are good high-fiber foods for kids. Most kids aren't going to be excited about a bowl of bran cereal, so serve it crushed up in low-fat yogurt or mix it into your child's favorite breakfast cereal.

Try these recipes:

  • Breakfast, Fruit and Yogurt Cereal Cups: You don’t have to limit yourself to only serving oatmeal or bowls of whole grain cereal for breakfast. These kid-friendly cereal cups are nutritionist-approved and can be customized with your child’s favorite yogurt flavors and whatever fruits are in season.

  • Lunch, Healthy Whole Grain Snack Mix: Instead of chips, pair your child’s lunch with a healthy snack mix. You can experiment by mixing different whole grain cereals with your favorite add-ins.

  • Dinner, Crunch Baked Chicken Tenders with Cereal Flakes: Pack more fiber into your regular chicken tenders by coating them in a whole grain cereal. This one uses Honey Bunches of Oats, but you can experiment with different whole grain cereals to find your favorite.

  • Snack, Whole Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars: Keep things simple by serving a bowl of your child’s favorite whole grain cereal after school or whip up a batch of these cereal bars for the whole family.

11. Beans

A 1/2-cup of beans contains between 6 and 9 grams of fiber.

"Beans are easy finger foods and are inexpensive," says Serbinski.

Roll cooked beans (like black beans or kidney beans) in tortillas with shredded cheese or add low-sodium canned beans to homemade soup.

Try these recipes:

  • Breakfast, Breakfast Burritos: One of the best ways to sneak some beans in with breakfast is to wrap them up in a tortillas. Add cheese, eggs and some veggies, and you’ve got a winning breakfast combination that’s full of nutrients.

  • Lunch, Black Bean and Corn Fritters: This recipe takes 30 minutes to prepare from start to finish and is a good one for little hands to help you out with. Serve it with some fruit on the side for a balanced lunch.

  • Dinner, Pasta Fagioli Soup: This recipe suggests pureeing the beans to get finicky eaters to eat them without a struggle. Serve it with a side of garlic bread, and it’s the perfect Italian dinner for those chilly nights.

  • Snack, Hummus with Crudites: Hummus is the ultimate healthy snack dip, and presenting your child with dipping options is the key to keeping them happy with it.

12. Sweet Potatoes

A medium-sized sweet potato supplies 3.8 grams of fiber. It's also a great source of vitamins A and C, Serbinski says. Top a baked potato with a bit of butter or cinnamon, and encourage kids to eat up.

Try these recipes:

  • Breakfast, Whole Grain Sweet Potato Pancakes: These pancakes can be made in large batches and stored in the freezer for up to three months. Take a few out for breakfast when you need them and warm them up quickly in the microwave.

  • Lunch, Sweet Potato Sliders: Thick slices of sweet potatoes take the place of a bun in these high-protein and high-fiber sliders. Nutritious and packed with flavor, these are definitely kid- and grownup-friendly.

  • Dinner, Asian Style Sweet Potato Noodles: For an easy dinner option, you can serve a sweet potato with chicken or another protein. But, if you’re willing to break out the spiralizer, this sweet potato noodle dish is a great way to get pasta-crazy kids to eat more veggies.

  • Snack, Sweet Potato Chips: This healthy snack option calls for only three ingredients, and you probably have them in your pantry right now. Salty and sweet make these a perfect after-school snack.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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