Cooking healthy meals that are delicious and satisfying can be hard work for us moms. Now that my daughter is on solids, I’ve been struggling to curate a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner that include all of the important nutrients and vitamins she needs to thrive. Sometimes I’ll spend 45 minutes preparing a meal for her just to have it end up all over the floor. And while drive-thru menus and microwavable meals may be cheap and convenient, I know that their nutritional profiles are lacking what every child needs for healthy development.

My latest craze has been Salata, a customizable salad restaurant in the Fashion Square Westfield Mall in Sherman Oaks. I’m a big fan of their salads and kid-friendly bento boxes and it’s so convenient and affordable that I’ve added Salata to my weekly lineup! You can customize your salad or bento box by picking 6 items from a list of over 50 toppings and 12 proteins.

To keep my daughter going through the day I have to make sure I give her all of the nutrients she needs without giving her all of the added sugars found in a lot of the foods that are marketed to children. Protein is on the top of the list, helping to build, maintain and repair working muscles. Protein also helps in developing a strong immune system, key for getting through cold and flu season. Instead of filling them up on empty calories, which is so easy to do with all of the snack foods that are available, add lean protein to their meal and your child will feel more satisfied and stay fuller longer. Salata has a variety of protein options including chopped egg, grilled chicken, pesto chicken, turkey, salmon and shrimp. Sometimes we go with a vegetarian option that’s high in protein like falafel, quinoa, edamame, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, red beans, or black beans.

I spent the first 30 years of my life being told that fat was the enemy and that if I wanted to maintain a healthy weight and prevent heart disease later in life, I should eliminate all fat from my diet. But as it turns out, fat is actually very healthy and believe it or not, it does NOT make you fat! The real enemy is sugar. Healthy fats and even saturated fats are key for brain and nerve growth and can help with fat-soluble vitamin absorption, healthy skin and curbing those cravings. Add some crunch to your salad with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and almonds, all great sources of fat. Or try some green olives and avocado… My daughter absolutely loves avocado and salmon, both of which are high in healthy fat.

It seems like flu season keeps getting worse every year with super bug strains that even a flu shot won’t prevent. Vitamin C is vital in our children’s diet for preventing and fighting off any sickness that may be lurking in the air. Mandarin oranges, peppers (if your child will eat them), strawberries, and broccoli are great for getting vitamin C in the daily recommended dose.

0-6 months

40 mg/day
Adequate Intake (AI)

7-12 months

50 mg/day
Adequate Intake (AI)

1-3 years

15 mg/day

4-8 year

25 mg/day

9-13 years

45 mg/day

 

If your kids are like mine, fiber is not something that would easily peak their taste buds. Most children don’t get enough fiber in their diet, the recommended average is 25 grams per day with most kids eating around 12 daily grams. Good fiber picks include fresh fruits and vegetables, bean soups, nuts, and seeds, all available to include Salata’s bento box.

Lastly, calcium is necessary as it builds strong bones and teeth and helps the heart, nerves, and muscles to function.By having an adequate intake of calcium, you’re giving your body the building blocks to fuel all of it’s important functions, as well as to knit new bone tissue. If you don’t get enough calcium, the body will “steal” calcium thats stored in bones to make sure it has enough to meet the body’s needs. High sources of calcium include milk (for children over 1), cheese, brocolli, kale and nuts.

The children’s bento boxes at Salata have literally been a game changer for me. They are easy to pack on-the-go to activities, play dates, etc. Every time we get one I sneak a new topping in for her to explore (today it was edamame.) Busy moms can rely on Salata to provide convenient AND healthy meals for our families!

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