Nutrition

Fiber for Kids: 10 Quick, Easy (RD-Approved) Recipes

7 min read

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When it comes to making decisions about our kids’ nutrition habits, sometimes it pays to be picky—a concept that Ritual’s own team of parents knows well.

It’s why we took our time creating a kid’s gummy multivitamin unlike other bestselling gummies on the market†—one that not only meets our sky-high standards (it’s vegan-friendly, sugar-free, and contains omega-3 DHA and 3 grams of fiber, not to mention other key nutrients), but also tastes really, really good.

Speaking of fiber: Kids need it. (We all do!) But parents of picky eaters know all too well that getting them to hit the recommended levels can be… challenging, to say the least.

Considering the best way to meet nutrient needs is through food first, we turned to Dr. Michelle Davenport, PhD, RD—a mom, registered dietitian, food expert, and member of Ritual’s Scientific Advisory Board—for some easy, tasty ways to boost fiber intake in a child’s diet.

†Based on the top 5 US multivitamin brands that carry a kids multivitamin SKU by 2019 & trailing 12 month retail sales (through April '20)

But first, what is fiber—and why is it important to consume?

In its most basic terms, fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body is unable to digest—this means that it passes through the digestive tract and out of the body fairly intact via bowel movements. Dietary fiber is often divided into two types: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, both of which are important parts of a healthy diet. (1, 2)

As for the benefits of fiber, there are many: From supporting satiety to helping with regularity, consuming enough fiber is essential for supporting digestive health.*

How much fiber do children need?

Chances are, more than they’re currently consuming. (Seriously—dietary fiber is considered a “nutrient of public health concern” because upwards of 90% of Americans are not getting enough in their diet.) (3)

That said, the exact amount of fiber a child needs depends on age and/or assigned sex at birth. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends little ones ages 1-3 aim for 19 grams of fiber per day, while those ages 4-8 aim for 25 grams. For females ages 9-13, the recommendations increase to 26 grams per day; for males the same age, the IOM recommends 31 grams. (1)

10 Kid-Friendly, Fiber-Containing Snack Recipes

According to Michelle, there are plenty of fiber-filled foods that can be made palatable for picky eaters. Her suggestion? Keep things simple, get creative, and don’t be afraid to play around with colors. Eating the rainbow can be fun—especially when it involves finger foods! (5)

We turned to Dr. Michelle Davenport, PhD, RD—a mom, registered dietitian, and member of Ritual’s Scientific Advisory Board—for some easy, tasty ways to boost fiber intake in a child’s diet.
  • Caterpillar Grapes. Think ants on a log, but leveled up—all you need are celery sticks, almond butter, and grapes (or raisins, for an extra fiber boost!). Spoon the almond butter along the center of each stick, then top with grapes. For bonus points, cut extra celery into thin strips and insert them into the end grapes to make antennae. (It’s the little things, no?)
  • Smoothies. When they’re done right, smoothies can be a tasty and convenient way to add extra nutrients (and fiber) to a daily menu—and the same goes for any picky eaters in the household. Here’s some kid-friendly smoothie recipes, concocted by our resident recipe guru, integrative chef Blaine Arin Tacker.
  • Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? (Rhetorical question.) Michelle recommends butternut squash mac and cheese as a fiber-rich alternative to the classic. Stock up on cubed butternut squash, milk, shredded cheese, unsalted butter, and whole wheat pasta shells. Boil a pot of water, cook the squash until tender, blend it with milk, butter, and cheese to taste, then stir into the pasta.
  • Roasted Chickpeas. Crunchy and fiber-filled (not to mention packed with protein), chickpeas are great to have on hand for those savory cravings. “Try sprinkling on turmeric and cumin before baking—two spices that not only taste great, but also boast antioxidant properties,” says Michelle.
  • Frozen Blueberry Skewers. Popsicles are a popular pick with kids (and adults!), but can often come with lots of added sugar. Michelle’s hack? DIY fruit-yogurt skewers. Simply thread blueberries (or raspberries or whatever fruit your kiddo likes) onto a wooden skewer, then spoon Greek yogurt over them until they’re coated. Place them onto a baking sheet and let them freeze until the yogurt is hardened—usually about an hour. Let sit for five minutes, then enjoy!
  • Black Beans. What’s high in fiber, a great source of plant protein, and super versatile? Yep, you guessed it—beans, and black beans in particular. For those pressed on time, Michelle suggests keeping things simple and eating them plain. “Pair them with a squeeze of lime, which contains vitamin C,” she says. “It adds a zesty flavor, and also increases the absorption of iron.”*
  • Frozen Raspberries. “Frozen fruit is a fantastic alternative to sweet desserts,” Making them couldn’t be easier: Simply wash and dry the fruit, put them into a resealable bag, and freeze them. Pair the raspberries with other frozen fruits like blackberries and blueberries for a boost of fiber and variety of textures, flavors, and colors!
  • Sweet Potato Fries. A finger food and a fan favorite, roasted sweet potato fries are as tasty as they are nutritious—especially when you make them at home. Fiber tip: Leave the skin on, since it contains some of the total fiber (plus it adds a crispy texture). “Drizzle with avocado oil to boost vitamin A absorption, then dip in hummus for some extra protein. (Not into fries? Give this sweet potato toast recipe a whirl.)* (6)
  • Loaded Quiches. “Create a complete meal with crustless quiches loaded with veggies of your choice,” says Michelle. They’re on the heartier side, but still super easy to make. Only four ingredients are required: Eggs, milk, cheddar cheese, and a variety of veggies of your choice. (Think fibrous veggies like broccoli, green peas, sweet potato and/or brussels sprouts… The world is really your oyster here.) Fill some muffin tins with the cheese and veggies, whisk the eggs with a splash of milk, and then pour the mixture into each muffin cup. Bake at 375 degrees for 17-20 minutes until the egg mixture has set, and you’re good to go.
  • Chocolate Banana Avocado Pudding. A thick, creamy, healthy hack for a pudding that tastes like chocolate-y goodness? Look no further than your pantry. If you’ve got four ripe bananas, one ripe avocado, ¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, and a blender on hand, then you’ve got yourself a delicious, nutritious dessert (in less than five minutes, to boot). Use frozen bananas for a cold temp.
  • Popcorn. “Popcorn is surprisingly high in fiber at almost 4 grams per ounce,” says Michelle. “If you prefer to switch things up, try dusting a little bit of cacao powder or your favorite spice blend on it for added flavor.”

When grocery shopping, keep an eye out for lentils and legumes, along with whole grains (including brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pasta, whole-grain pasta, and whole-grain bread). All contain fiber and can be easily incorporated into recipes or subbed in for their refined grain counterparts.

Want some more fiber inspo? Try these chia seed overnight oats and vegan lentil meatballs. (And don’t forget to check out our grocery list of fiber-filled foods.)

References:

  1. Institute of Medicine of The National Academies. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). 2005, 7:399-400.
  2. Chutkan, R.; et al. Viscous versus nonviscous soluble fiber supplements: Mechanisms and evidence for fiber-specific health benefits. J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2012, 24(8):476-87. (Abstract)
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Interactive Nutrition Facts Label. Dietary Fiber Fact Sheet. March 2020.
  4. Quagliani, D., & Felt-Gunderson, P. (2016). Closing America's Fiber Intake Gap: Communication Strategies From a Food and Fiber Summit. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 11(1), 80–85.
  5. FoodData Central, USDA.
  6. Goltz, S.; et al. Meal triacylglycerol profile modulates postprandial absorption of carotenoids in humans. Molecular Nutr and Food Research. 2012, 56(6):866-77. (Abstract)

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Meet Our Experts

This article features advice from our Scientific Advisory Board.

Dr. Michelle Davenport

Dr. Michelle Davenport, PhD, RD

Dr. Michelle Davenport, PhD, RD, is a registered dietitian and the founder of Quantitative Nutrition, a company that provides consultations on data science in nutrition and precision-based methods for food and health product research and development. A veteran of the food tech industry, she has been profiled in Forbes, Fast Company, and the Wall Street Journal.

Dr. Michelle Davenport

Dr. Michelle Davenport, PhD, RD

Dr. Michelle Davenport, PhD, RD, is a registered dietitian and the founder of Quantitative Nutrition, a company that provides consultations on data science in nutrition and precision-based methods for food and health product research and development. A veteran of the food tech industry, she has been profiled in Forbes, Fast Company, and the Wall Street Journal.

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