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Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Creative Lunch Ideas

What is a bento box?

Bento box lunches have been increasing in popularity among families with preschoolers and school-age children. Google the term “lunchbox” and you will find a wealth of resources, including blogs, Pinterest pages and online retailers selling basic and whimsical options.  Bento boxes are appealing because they provide a creative way to add a variety of foods to a child’s lunch while keeping wet foods separate from dry foods. If a parent is artistic, the child’s lunch can become a work of art.

 

 Why does it work well for school lunches?

 Bento boxes work well for school lunches and snacks because they protect food in an air-tight container and keep food groups separate. If you have a picky eater who does not like foods touching, a bento box may keep your child happy. Parents can have fun creating different lunchtime masterpieces.  Bento boxes are economical because they are reusable and help keep plastic snack and sandwich bags out of landfills.

 

What can I put in my child’s bento box?

The options are endless, but here are some ideas:

  • Sliced hard-boiled eggs;
  • A mini-bagel sandwich with almond butter, jelly or another spread;
  • Sliced strawberries, blueberries and kiwis;
  • Cheese cubes;
  • Pretzels;
  • Sliced grapes;
  • A muffin;
  • Mini-pita sandwiches filled with cheese and pepperoni;
  • Sliced pineapple;
  • Celery and carrot sticks;
  • Cucumber slices;
  • A turkey and cheese sandwich on a Hawaiian roll;
  • Veggie chips;
  • Rice molds;
  • Chickpeas and black beans;
  • Raisins and chocolate chips;
  • Sandwich rounds with ham, cheese and avocado.

 

Enjoy making bento box lunches!

Bean and Cheese Tacos

Looking for a quick and easy dinner idea?

Ingredients

  • 15-oz can of pinto beans, rinsed
  • 15-oz can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup mild salsa
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce
  • Taco shells (hard or soft)
  • Low-fat shredded cheddar cheese

Combine beans and salsa in a microwave-safe bowl, then heat 1 to 2 minutes or until hot. Tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces. Spoon the bean mixture into each taco shell, top with lettuce and cheese.

 

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

DIY Banana Chips

Many store-bought banana chips are loaded with added sugar and fat. Follow these simple instructions to make healthy banana chips at home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • Lemon juice (optional)

Slice the banana (or bananas, depending on how many chips you want) into 1/8-inch-thick rounds, and lay them on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees F for two to three hours or until golden. Then let the chips harden at room temperature. Enjoy them as is or serve with nut butter. For an extra kick of sweetness, brush lemon juice on the banana slices before baking.

 

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

 

Baking Holiday Memories

Bake up some warm holiday memories with your children this season. Put on those aprons, the mess is part of the fun! Older children can crack the eggs and measure wet/dry ingredients, while the younger children participate by pouring the pre-measured ingredients into the mixing bowl (be sure to point out that oil and water mix) and by stirring and creating cut-outs with cookies cutters. Be sure to encourage creativity and imagination when it is time to decorate! Festively colored frostings, sparkly sanding sugars, pre-cut fondant in holiday shapes (or make your own), gumdrops and more are perfect for little fingers, and make for wonderful holiday cookie decorations. Don’t forget to taste test your creations! Giving and sharing provide a feeling of joy that you can reinforce by having your children deliver a plate of cookies to a neighbor or the local senior center.

Baking with Children

  • Put on aprons. The mess is part of the fun;
  • Older children can crack the eggs and measure wet and dry ingredients, while younger children can participate by pouring the pre-measured ingredients into the mixing bowl;
  • Show children that oil and water mix by letting them stir the mix;
  • Create cut-outs with cookies cutters;
  • Be sure to encourage creativity and imagination when decorating your creations. Use festively colored frostings, sparkly sanding sugars, gumdrops, pre-cut fondant or homespun shapes. These are perfect for little fingers and make wonderful cookie decorations;
  • Don’t forget to taste test your creations;
  • Go with your children to deliver a plate of cookies to a neighbor or the local senior center. Giving and sharing can make children feel good.

Sufficient Hydration is Necessary for a Healthy Lifestyle

Most of us are concerned that our children have good eating habits to ensure proper growth; however, not many of us put as much thought into the amount of water our little ones consume. What is the proper amount of water for children?

Water is not a one size fits all commodity. The amount of water children need depends on their age, weight and gender.Although there is not an exact number, we all could use a little more H2O to keep us on the go.

Here are some tips to increase your child’s water consumption.

·         The most efficient and effective way to boost your child’s water intake is to always have it available. Whether he is at home, at school or playing outdoors, make sure your child is always within reach of water.

 

·         Encourage your child to drink water by simply placing it in front of him without any alternative options. If he does not have soda or other sugary beverages around him, he will be more likely to drink the water without a fuss.

 

·         Increase your child’s consumption of fruits and vegetables that contain large volumes of water, such as strawberries, oranges, watermelon and cucumbers.

 

·         Be a good example; increase your water intake as well. This will not only keep you on track with how much water you consume, but watching you drink water will ensure that your child will want to drink it too.

 

Staying hydrated helps children focus better in school, brightens their mood and improves their performance in day to day activities.

Grab a glass of water for you and your little one, and start increasing your intake today.

Hazelnut Granola Apple Wedges

Your little one have a craving for a sweet snack? Stay healthy while satisfying your child’s appetite with some hazelnut granola apple wedges!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 large apple
  • Hazelnut spread
  • Low-fat granola

Cut the apple into wedges. Holding each wedge by the skin side, spread it with hazelnut spread. Sprinkle granola on hazelnut spread-covered area. Substitute peanut butter (or any nut butter)for hazelnut spread if you’d like. Also feel free to add raisins!

 

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

Five Tips For Healthy Eating

  • Offer encouragement – Encourage your child to eat a variety of foods to help them get the nutrients they need from each food group.  By doing so, they are more likely to enjoy trying new foods!
  • Be a good role model – It’s no surprise that children are likely to mimic their parents’ food choices.  If your children see you enjoying fruits, vegetables and whole grains, they will more likely enjoy them as well.
  • Stock up on healthy choices – Make sure that your cupboards and refrigerator are filled with healthy options rather than prepackaged foods filled with sugar and sodium. Read food labels before purchasing so you know exactly what’s in the foods you are buying—just because it’s made with whole grains doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.
  • Serve balanced portions – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has turned the Food Pyramid into a plate. The USDA’s MyPlate illustrates balanced portion sizes for the five foods groups—Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein and Dairy—in a familiar way by using a standard mealtime place setting.
  • Follow a schedule – Set a daily schedule for meals and snacks (3 meals & 1-2 snacks per day is recommended), with plenty of time between each.  This will help children learn the importance of structured eating and help them to stay feeling full throughout the day.

Five Ways to Make Family Meal Preparation Easier

Sitting down to dinner with your family is great. You can recap your days, spend some time together and have some laughs. Between work, school and extracurricular activities, though, finding the time to sit down together can be challenging. Here are five ways to make preparing family meals easier.

 

  1. Prepare meals beforehand. Make a lot of a particular dish over the weekend and serve it throughout the week. For example, make a double batch of a casserole or a big batch of soup or chili and serve it every other day so you don’t have to worry about cooking on those nights.
  2. “Cheat” when you cook. Using frozen or pre-cut veggies and other prepared foods is an excellent way to save time when you cook. Also, a slow cooker lets you cook a full meal with less preparation.
  3. Keep meals simple. Plenty of fast, easy meals are also delicious and nutritious. The internet has a treasure trove of recipes to suit your family, your wallet, your schedule and your taste buds.
  4. Have breakfast for dinner. In a pinch, serve scrambled eggs, toast and fruit. Waffles or pancakes are easy, too. Eating mostly healthy foods is important, but sitting down with your family is important, too.
  5. Make dinner as a family. Having help can cut down on meal preparation time. Children can stir and roll out dough, and they can mix the vegetables you chopped into a salad. Cooking together is also a terrific bonding activity.

Happy Mother’s Day

Breakfast in bed is great, but preparing breakfast together is a memory maker.  This year, send invitations to your children to join you in the kitchen for a special Mother’s Day occasion.

  • Choose a simple recipe with minimal ingredients and let the fun begin.  Encourage your children to measure, pour, stir and mix. 
  • Set the table with linens, flatware and glasses (or sippy cups).  Provide materials for your children to ‘decorate’ their own placemats.
  • Talk with your children regarding their interests, friends and ideas.
  • Take plenty of pictures and send your memories to family and friends.
  • Relax – this is YOUR day!