As the school year ends and summer approaches, many children will have to prepare lunch and snacks for themselves. When they go to the refrigerator what will they find? Will it be healthy foods or junk food?
As parents, it is up to us to make sure our kids eat right, even when we are not around. So how do we make sure our children are eating healthy? We need to pack the fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables. Kids like foods that are easy and available to grab, so it is best to have healthy options prepared in advance. Kids also like anything they can dip — carrots, celery, broccoli, and cucumbers are more likely to disappear if they have some low-fat ranch dressing to dip them in. Vanilla yogurt also makes a good dip for fruits.
For those of you that have picky eaters, encourage them to eat healthy snacks by allowing them to help make easy recipes. Children who make their snacks are more willing to try them. Here are a few recipes that are healthy and easy for your little ones to make.
To make a fruit smoothie, you’ll need bowls, cups, forks and a whisk. Choose fruit and mash it into the bottom of the cup. Add a one-fourth cup yogurt and one-fourth cup milk. Whip it all together with a whisk or fork.
To make a yogurt sundae, you’ll need bowls, clear plastic cups; whole grain breakfast cereal; fat-free or low-fat yogurt and a variety of cut-up or small fresh fruit like grapes, berries or sliced peaches. Put half a cup of yogurt into the cups and allow each person to add cereal and fruit to their sundaes.
To make fruit kabobs, you’ll need strawberries; grapes; unsweetened pineapple chunks; bananas, toothpicks, bowls and paper plates. Begin by cleaning and cutting the strawberries and grapes. Drain canned, unsweetened pineapple chunks and save the juice. Slice bananas a half-inch thick and dip them into the pineapple juice to prevent browning. Assemble any combination of fruits on toothpicks and eat.
To make frozen fruit, you’ll need a variety of fruits, such as grapes, blueberries and strawberries. You can freeze your own fruit by placing them on plastic wrap and putting them into the freezer.
Ice cubes can be made with fruit juice and frozen onto a stick. Remember, it’s OK if the cubes contain small bites of fruit, such as berries or crushed pineapple. Prepare ahead of time, and keep cold until served.
These recipes are quick and easy for children of all ages. Children are sure to eat foods they make because they take pride in creating them, which will in turn boost their confidence. By increasing fruit and vegetable servings, children are less likely to have childhood obesity and other serious health problems in life. For more healthy recipes, visit efnep.com.
For information on how to start Expanded Food and Nutrition classes in your school, church, or community, contact Tamika McLean, 4-H Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Assistant with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by email at Tamika_McLean@ncsu.edu or visit the website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu.