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healthy fats kids

Kids need healthy fats: 3 recipes they’ll love

Fats get a bad wrap. In fact, kids need fats to grow and thrive

Some fats are, in fact, good for you and your kids. Kids need healthy fats to grow healthy brains and bodies. Here are three great dishes to get healthy fats into the whole family.

Romaine and Endive Salad with Avocado and Walnut Vinaigrette

Both of my kids love this combination of greens and the walnut vinaigrette. But one kid hates the walnuts and loves the avocado and the other has the opposite reaction. So, you can always keep the peace by putting the walnuts and avocado on the side. When you make the salad with half walnut and half olive oil, the vinaigrette has a wonderful nutty flavor.

Serves 4-6

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large head romaine lettuce, washed, dried and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
2 cups torn curly endive, washed and dried
1 ripe avocado, diced

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toast the walnuts until lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

In a small jar, combine the vinegar, mustard, walnut oil, avocado oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Shake together vigorously.

Place the romaine and endive in a large bowl and pour the dressing over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, the avocado and walnuts, toss and serve.

Roasted Salmon and Broccoli with Lemon and Salt

OK, it doesn’t get much simpler than this – or better tasting. Just make sure your salmon is super fresh, and buy wild salmon if you can afford it. Aleppo pepper is a very fruity, Syrian pepper that adds a fantastic flavor without a lot of heat. You can get it from

1¼ to 1½ pounds salmon fillet, skin on
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Aleppo pepper or freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon
1 large bunch broccoli, cut into 2-inch flowerets

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Pull out the pin bones from the salmon with tweezers or needle-nose pliers, brush the flesh side with half the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Grate the lemon zest from the lemon and sprinkle the zest over the salmon. Place flesh side down on a small roasting pan or jelly roll pan. Put the broccoli on a roasting pan, toss with the remaining half of the oil, and season liberally with the salt and pepper. Put both pans in the oven and roast five minutes. Turn the fish over and return to the oven. Roast an additional three to six minutes or until the fish and broccoli are both done to your liking. Serve with lemon wedges for sprinkling on both the fish and broccoli.

Dried Cherry, Pepita and Flaxseed Granola

I like to make this with coconut oil, since I love the flavor. And although the American Heart Association includes coconut oil on the list of saturated fats you should limit in your diet, Fran McCullough, author of The Good Fat Cookbook, contends it’s gotten a bad rap. If you do a little research on coconut oil, you’ll find that it has anti-microbial and anti-viral properties, plus it’s shelf stable at room temperature for two years (a big bonus.) But, if you prefer, use walnut or sunflower oil instead.

Makes about 10 cups

¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
3 large egg whites
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup almonds
½ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
½ cup unsweetened coconut
½ cup ground flaxseed
1½ cups coarsely chopped dried sour cherries
⅓ cup honey

Preheat the oven to 350°F. If using the coconut oil, put it on a heavy-rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven until melted, about three minutes. Pour the oil in a large bowl and whisk in the sugar, egg whites and salt. Add the oats, almonds, pepitas, coconut and flaxseed and toss to coat. Spread the mixture on the prepared sheet and bake 15 minutes. Stir the granola and bake 15 minutes longer. Sprinkle with the sour cherries and drizzle with honey and mix well. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Loosen the granola and transfer to another baking sheet to cool completely.


Wondering about good versus not ideal fats? Here’s a quick check:

Eat plenty of foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids:
  • Coldwater fish (wild salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies and trout)
  • Walnuts, sunflower seeds and flax seeds
Eat moderate amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fats
  • Olive oil – especially extra virgin
  • Canola, peanut, sunflower and sesame oils – especially unrefined
  • Soybean, cottonseed, sunflower seed, corn and safflower oils
  • Avocados
  • Seeds and nuts and their butters, especially almonds
Eat very moderate amounts of saturated fats
  • Milk, butter and dairy products
  • Lean meats, especially from grass-fed animals
Avoid foods containing trans fat (also known as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils)
  • Many kinds of margarine, salad dressings and mayonnaise
  • Cookies, crackers, and microwave popcorn (the biggest sources)
  • Cakes, donuts, snack chips, chocolate candy, processed breakfast cereals’
  • French fries
  • Fried foods
  • Some kinds of cooking oil

Jean Galton is a Seattle-based food writer, food stylist and mother of two.  Writer and former Seattle’s Child editor Wenda Reed contributed to this article.


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About the Author

Jean Galton