Eating Healthy While Keeping Up With an Active
Finely cutting or chopping vegetables and using them in sauces, pastas, soups, or casseroles is a great way to introduce kids to new vegetables, or incorporate those that they haven’t yet developed a taste for.
Reward kids for trying new foods and vegetables even if they do not like them after they have tried. It can take many exposures to new foods before a child will decide to try it on their own, so be persistent, but do not force them.
Set a good example! Kids will decide they do not like foods that parents do not like even before they have tasted them. Don’t use terms like “gross” or “bad” when talking about foods that you do not like, so that you don’t influence kids who haven’t had a chance to decide if they enjoy those foods.
When younger children are learning colors and numbers, use different colored fruits and vegetables (or pictures) as fun visual props. Children are more likely to try foods that they have been exposed to in these types of settings.
Have children help with meal planning and preparation. Ask them to think of ways to prepare the foods that they would like to eat in the healthiest ways, like baking whole, lightly breaded cubed chicken instead of chicken nuggets.
Here are some great summer treats that kids will love!
- Freeze fresh fruits such as grapes, small melon cubes, or peaches and serve as a snack.
- Frozen fruit chunks or berries serve as a fun replacement for ice cubes in a glass of water for a refreshing, fruity flavor.
- Cut up fresh fruits in bulk and store them ready-to-eat in the fridge or freezer so that kids have a quick, nutritious snack on hand when they need to cool off.
- Add grapes, pineapple, or mixed fruit to sugar-free Jell-O and pour into individual serving cups before chilling and serving.
- Make your own popsicles by freezing 100% fruit juice in an ice cube tray with a toothpick or popsicle stick handle. Kids will enjoy mixing different juices to see what flavor popsicles they can make!
- Smoothies made with non-fat Greek yogurt and fresh fruit topped with granola make a delicious, protein packed cold treat.
- Blend up yogurt smoothies and portion into an ice cube tray, freeze with a toothpick handle, and enjoy a delicious frozen yogurt bar! Thaw for 10 min before serving for easy removal.
- Grilled fruit such as pineapple or peaches go great with barbeque foods on the grill.
- Visit the MyPlate link at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for more great recipes and nutrition information.
Make Breakfast Count
Children who eat breakfast perform better in
the classroom and on the playground, with better concentration,
problem-solving skills and eye-hand coordination. Start them off on
a breakfast full of foods high in the important nutrients they
need. Add prunes to a bowl of yogurt for a breakfast high in
antioxidants, potassium and fiber. Try whole grain cereals, hot or
cold, with low-fat milk or yogurt with 1-2 tablespoons of slivered
nuts on top. Walnuts, almonds, and flaxseed are great sources of
Omega-3 fatty acids. If the cereal box label says there are 3 grams
of fiber or more per serving that means there is significant fiber.
Serve 1-2 pieces of whole-grain toast or whole-wheat English muffins
or toasted whole-grain waffles topped with peanut butter and a glass
of low-fat milk. Oatmeal or granola topped with fruit and low-fat
milk makes a tasty start to the day. Children who eat oatmeal
versus cold cereal or no breakfast at all perform better on tasks of
memory and spatial memory, which is important for math and geography
skills. Eggs are rich in choline, which help with memory
retention. Eggs are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, too.
Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth
and development. The body does not produce these acids; we can only
get them through the foods we eat.
Plan Nutritious Snacks for Between Meals
Occasionally children need a little something to tide them over
between lunch and dinner. Having healthy snacks on hand will help
to prevent you and your child from visiting the vending machine for
some midday fuel. Stock up their backpacks with nutritious snacks
that are packaged to stay fresh and hold up en route to any
destination. Try mixing dried fruit with almonds for a snack high
in iron, which improves mental alertness and energy levels. Pack
some trial mix containing raisins and dried cherries. Fruits and
vegetables are packaged in single serving sizes that can be easily
transported. These fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants,
which have been linked to improved memory and brain function. Try
dried strawberries and blueberries that enable improved
coordination, concentration and short-term memory.
Stash Healthy Foods in Your Car or Purse
After school you and your child(ren) are on the go attending
extracurricular activities. It is important to keep them fueled
when transporting them to their destinations and level of activity.
Instead of handing them a sugar-filled candy bar, keep healthy
snacks in the car for those days you find yourself moving from one
activity to another. Keep bottled water in the trunk to avoid
reaching for a soda.
End the Day on a Healthy Note
After a busy day, replenish your family in both body and mind with a
healthful dinner. Experiment with new recipes and put new spins on
old favorites. Dinner is a great time to squeeze in extra vitamins
and minerals to your family’s diet. Incorporate dried fruit, such
as cherries, blueberries, or cranberries into salads. Shred carrots
or zucchini and add to your spaghetti sauce. Serve whole wheat
pasta in your pasta dishes. Add oatmeal to your meatloaf recipe
instead of breadcrumbs. Add bulgur to your chili recipe. It is
nutritious, whole grain that adds texture. Top pizza with spinach
and a variety of peppers for color and taste. Try chunks of grilled
chicken instead fat loaded pepperoni or sausage.
Healthy Alternatives for Your Child’s Birthday Treat at School!
There are many alternatives to the cookies, cupcakes, or candies brought
to school that are served as a birthday treat.
Healthy snack items include:
Pretzels or popcorn bagged into individual baggies with a ribbon tied around them.
Baked tortilla chips with salsa, especially if it can be served on
individual “Happy Birthday” plates.
Teddy Grahams, Graham Crackers, Animal Crackers or Vanilla Wafers,
are alternatives to cookies or
cupcakes. Serve a combination of all in individualized bags tied
with a ribbon.
Lowfat string cheese served with lowfat crackers
Small bottles of water or 100% juice boxes are a healthy drink offering.
Frozen Fruit Bars. These healthy snacks provide a cool treat for
the kids with a nice serving of Vitamin C in each serving. Frozen
Fruit Bars are an excellent choice for your child to bring in to
school on their birthday if the special day occurs at the beginning
or end of the school year when the weather is typically warm. You
may need to send a note to the child's teacher beforehand to make
sure that your child will be able to store the frozen fruit bars in
the cafeteria freezer before they are handed out.
Veggie Platter. A large tray of cut up celery, carrots and
cherry tomatoes is a very healthy snack for children to enjoy during
the course of the school day. Cover the tray or platter with pretty
colored plastic wrap and send in Happy Birthday plates and napkins
for the children to use. A carton of ranch dressing for dipping will
surely be appreciated by the children.
Fun Fruit Tray. A tray of strawberries, grapes, apple slices
and orange wedges arranged in a smiley face is a cute and healthy
treat for your child's class to enjoy on the special occasion.
Granola Bars. A single granola bar with a ribbon wrapped
around each one can be brought in and distributed to the class to
add to their lunches or enjoyed at snack time. Not all granola bars
are created equal, though, so be sure to choose a variety with a low
sugar content and that does not contain nuts to accommodate the
children in the class who have allergies.
Here is a recipe for Trail Mix chock full of vitamins and nutrients!
3 Cups Cheerios
1 Box any flavor Teddy Grahams
2 Cups Pretzels
1 Cup of Raisins
1 Cup Dried Cranberries
1 Cup Dried Banana Chips
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Serve in large bowl or in individual baggies.
Other Non-Edible Birthday Treats Include:
Small Play-Dough Containers
Pencils with fun erasers
Decks of Cards
Mini Puzzle Books