As a full time dietitian, wife to a busy husband and mother to three active children (11, 8 and 6), it is difficult to keep everyone on track and eating the right foods when school is out of session.
Quick tips that help:
- Start the day off with protein
- Toast or English muffin with peanut butter
- Eggs (keep hard boiled eggs in fridge, teach kids how to make poached eggs in microwave)
- Peanut butter balls
- Center cut bacon or turkey sausage/bacon
- On each child’s chore list, request them to eat a piece of fruit and a vegetable
- Plan ahead – keep zip lock snack size bags of fruit and vegetables servings in the fridge or homemade trail mix in the cupboard (cereal of choice, craisins, peanuts, chocolate chips, pretzels, yogurt covered raisins) to grab on the go
- Get 3-4 servings of dairy a day (milk, yogurt, or cheese) especially for kids 9-18 when calcium needs are high for bone growth
- Have the kids pick out one new food or recipe to try each week (a new fruit or vegetable, try hummus, Greek Yogurt or fish) and allow them to help prepare
- Always serve a vegetable and fruit at supper or with an evening snack. (As I would my husband when he makes supper, “Where is our something green?” or “We need a food with some color!”)
- Make homemade popsicles by blending fruit and freezing in popsicle containers or cups with a wooden stick
- Attempt to eat a meatless dish once a week – try cheese ravioli or bean enchiladas (these also are quick meals that can be made in 15-20 min).
- At supper we go around the table and have everyone tell what they ate for fruits and vegetables for the day. The person with the most gets out of doing their chore for evening dishes (our family is very competitive).
- I do not have pop or juice in the house. Pop is a once in a while choice when we either go out to eat or have root beer floats. Juice is also a once in awhile choice – as I encourage them to eat their fruit to obtain the benefits of the fiber in the fruit. Instead, encourage them to drink water or milk.
Regardless of what you and your family do to eat healthy, remember parents need to lead by example and help children form habits that will last them a lifetime. Teach them about eating food in moderation and the importance of making good choices.
Healthy Cookie Dough Dip
- 1 ½ c chickpeas or white beans (1 can, drained and rinsed very well)
- 1/8 tsp plus 1/16 tsp salt
- Tiny bit over 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ c nut butter of choice (for less calories, use 3 tbsp)
- Up to ¼ c milk of choice, only if needed for consistency
- Sweetener of choice (stevia, truvia)
- 1/3 c chocolate chips
- 2-3 tbsp oats (or ground flax)
Add all ingredients except for the chocolate chips to a good food processor (not a blender) and blend until very smooth. Then mix in the chocolate chips with a spoon. Serve with graham crackers.
Note: This recipe is allergen friendly. Using some manipulation, you can switch out the nut butter and milk choices as you see fit for your family.
Healthy, Homemade Frozen Pops
In a blender, whirl together one cup plain or flavored yogurt, one cup mixed fruit of choice, and one tbsp honey. Pour the mixture into pop molds and freeze for 3 hours. This pop is full of protein and calcium and a good source of magnesium and potassium.
Simply blend together 1 cup of 100% juice (try mixing different varieties) with 1 cup of desired fruit chunks. Pour into pop molds and freeze for 3 hours. These pops provide energy through carbohydrates, a good amount of potassium, and antioxidants.
Make your own pudding using low fat or skim milk. Pour the pudding into a blender, add your favorite fruit, and blend. For example, chocolate pudding and banana or blueberries and vanilla pudding. Spoon into pop molds and freeze for 3 hours. These pops provide plenty of protein, calcium, and vitamins.
Try freezing your yogurt by cutting a slit into the foil, inserting a stick and freezing. Run the carton under hot water if it sticks.
Insert a stick into a peeled banana half, dunk in chocolate sauce, roll in chopped peanuts or almonds if desired, and freeze.
Jessica Haake and Darci McMurray
Jessica Haake, MS, RD, LMNT, and Darci McMurray, RD , LMNT, CSP are Clinical Dietitians.