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5 Best High Calorie Foods (Chosen by a Feeding Therapist)

Feb 22nd, 2022 | by Lisa Murphy OTD, OTR/L, SWC

Lisa Murphy OTD, OTR/L, SWC

February 22nd, 2022

Parents of picky eaters and tube-fed kids often struggle to ensure their children are getting enough calories each day. While some favorite foods are high in calories, they may not be rich in nutrients – think ice cream, chips, and fried foods. To help children gain weight healthfully and with real food, check out some of our favorite nutritious calorie boosters to help your child thrive! 

1. Avocado

Avocado is a great source of potassium, fiber and folate and is packed with monosaturated fats. Depending on it’s size, half of an avocado can pack in a whopping 150 calories. Is your child afraid of green food, try one of our favorite calorie boosting recipes, avocado pudding! 

Chocolate Avocado Pudding 

Avocado chocolate pudding is an excellent high calorie snack for picky eaters. Find the recipe in this blog post!

Blend together and then chill for 30 minutes: 

  • 2 whole avocados peeled, pitted and cubed 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk 
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon  

2. Healthy Oils

Adding healthy oils to your toddler's food is a great way to get a picky toddler to gain weight.

Adding avocado, olive and coconut oils to mealtime is a great way to boost calories. One tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories.  Try double dressing your child’s pasta by first coating with olive oil before adding their red sauce.  Sautee vegetables with olive oil instead of steaming them or add a tablespoon of oil to your child’s blend.   

3. Dates

Find high calorie foods for picky eaters in this blog post.

Dates are high in fiber and antioxidants, and an excellent natural sweetener. We love adding dates to smoothies and tube blends, not only for health purposes but also as a calorie booster. Pack an instant calorie punch by blending together ingredients from this awesome calorie boosting smoothie using dates to sweeten.    

Chocolate Peanut Butter Date Smoothie 

Recipe for a Chocolate Peanut Butter Date Smoothie, perfect high calorie smoothie for toddlers!
  • Date paste (cover 6 Medjool dates in 6 Tbs hot water, let sit for 10 minutes, then blend in food processor) 
  • 1 ¼ cups frozen cubed avocado 
  • 4 Tbs creamy peanut butter 
  • 2 cups of preferred milk (whole or 2% will offer greatest amount of calories) 
  • ½ tsp cinnamon  
  • 2 Tbs dark cacao powder 

4. Eggs

Eggs are a great calorie dense food for toddlers. Find more in this blog!

Eggs are incredibly nutritious containing vitamins A, B2, B5, B12, as well as folate, phosphorus and selenium. They can be presented in many different ways – scrambled, boiled, over-easy and cooked in high calorie oils or grass-fed butter. If eggs are not your picky eaters cup of tea, you can use eggs to boost calories in other breakfast staples by adding an extra egg into pancake, waffle, muffin and other baked good recipes. One of our favorite recipes combines eggs and cream cheese (another excellent calorie booster.) 

Scrambled Eggs with Cream Cheese 

After coating pan with melted butter, scramble together: 

  • 4 large eggs 
  • 2 ounces full fat cream cheese (divided into ½ inch cubed) 

5. Nut Butters

Nut butters are a great high calorie toddler food. Find more in this blog!

Peanut, almond, and walnut are just a few of our favorite nut butters which are loaded with heart-healthy mono-saturated fats. Nut butters are also high in protein, potassium and magnesium.  Not only are nut butters great on sandwiches (don’t forget to use butter as a calorie boosting base in addition to nut butters and jam), they’re also great in smoothies and as a dipping sauce for fruits such as apples and bananas.   

Find Additional Feeding Resources in the NAPA Blog:

About the Author 

Lisa, an occupational therapist, is NAPA’s Global Director of Rehabilitation and a 10-year NAPA veteran.  When she’s not treating or mentoring, you can catch her exploring her new hometown Denver and hiking with her family.   

About NAPA Centre

At NAPA Centre, we offer paediatric feeding therapy at our multiple clinics in the US and Australia. Our occupational and speech therapists take a comprehensive approach targeting muscular coordination, sensory processes, and social experiences associated with eating. We also offer VitalStim therapy for children experiencing difficulty swallowing. We take an individualized approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customized program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals.

TAGS: Blogs, Feeding
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