Helping kids learn to love healthy eating
(Family Features) According to the 2007 Produce For Kids study, 96 percent of children don’t get the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. That won’t surprise a lot of parents. Getting children to eat any fruits or vegetables at all can be a big challenge. With 39 percent of all U.S. children overweight or obese, getting kids to make better food choices is more important than ever.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, nutrients and fiber, are low in calories and can help prevent many diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease and some cancers. But kids aren’t compelled by the nutritional benefits of produce. They want to have fun eating food they like. So they need some help to become healthy eaters.
How can a parent get fruit-phobic or veggie-avoiding kids to eat more of what they really need? Mypyramid.gov, a Web site dedicated to helping people make smart food choices, has some tips for coping with picky eaters.
- Let your kids be “produce pickers.” Let them help pick out fruits and veggies at the store.
- Kids like to try foods they help make. All of that mixing, mashing and measuring makes them want to taste what they are creating.
- Make meals a stress-free time. If meals are times for family arguments, your child may learn unhealthy attitudes toward food.
- Offer choices. Rather than ask “Do you want broccoli for dinner?” ask “Which would you like for dinner: broccoli or cauliflower?”
Another suggestion, from The Produce For Kids study, is to use dips to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. Sixty-eight percent of the moms surveyed said that their children ate more fruit and vegetables when they were served with dip.
One of the latest items on the market to help meet this need is Marzetti Dip Snack Packs, a line of fruit and veggie dips for children that makes eating produce fun and nutritious. Each portion-control package contains the right amount of dip for a serving of fruit or vegetables.
Turn the frowns upside down
Do your kids turn up their noses at fruits and veggies? Here are some fun and smart ideas to please even the pickiest of eaters:
- Bagel snake ― Split mini bagels in half. Cut each half into half circles. Spread the halves with tuna salad, egg salad, or peanut butter. Decorate with sliced cherry tomatoes or banana slices. Arrange the half circles to form the body of a snake. Use olives or raisins for the eyes.
- English muffin pizza ― Top half an English muffin with tomato sauce, chopped veggies and low-fat mozzarella cheese. Heat until the cheese is melted.
- Potato pal ― Top half a small baked potato with eyes, ears, and a smile. Try peas for eyes, a halved cherry tomato for a nose, and a low-fat cheese wedge as a smile.
- Fruit smoothies ― Blend fresh or frozen fruit with yogurt and milk or juice. Try 100 percent orange juice, low-fat yogurt, and frozen strawberries.
- Ants on a log ― Thinly spread peanut butter or apple dip on narrow celery sticks. Top with a row of raisins or other diced dried fruit.
- Fruit kabobs – Spear chunks of pineapple, banana and melon on skewers or chopsticks. Let kids dunk them in a fruit dip.
Picky eaters don’t have to stay picky eaters. With some encouragement and creative ideas from parents, they can learn to love eating what’s best for them.
For more information, visit marzetti.com.
Turn PB & J into PB & A — peanut butter and apples! This lunchtime treat is a great way to please picky sandwich eaters and make sure they get some healthy fruit.
Open Face Caramel Peanut Butter Sandwich
Prep Time: 5 minutes
- 2 tablespoons Marzetti Caramel Apple Dip
- 2 tablespoons favorite peanut butter
- 2 slices favorite bread
- Sliced apples, peanuts, dried cranberries or raisins
- In a small bowl, mix together dip and peanut butter until smooth.
- Spread two tablespoons of caramel mixture on each slice of bread.
- Arrange sliced apples, peanuts and dried fruit atop each sandwich and serve.
Put some crunchy fun into snack time with this fruity rice cake. This is one treat the kids will love making themselves — just set out the ingredients and let them build a fruit-filled snack!
Rice Cake Snack
Prep Time: 3 minutes
- 2 tablespoons Marzetti Caramel Apple Dip
- 1 rice cake
Topping options: Diced red or green apple, chopped bananas, favorite dried fruit, mini chocolate chips or favorite chopped nuts
Spread 2 tablespoons dip onto a rice cake. Top with one or two topping options and serve.
Simply add watermelon to see resolution results
(Family Features) The start of a new year is the perfect time for new beginnings, including a fresh start on eating healthy. The trick to making this year’s resolution stick is introducing smart eating habits so tasty and easy that your eating plan becomes more a way of life than a short-lived commitment. One easy way to achieve that habit is by adding watermelon to your daily diet, giving your body a low-calorie option to curb an appetite for unhealthy snacks.
Set reasonable goals. A deprivation diet is destined to fail because eventually your body will rebel. Instead, aim for well-rounded meals with moderate portions. If weight loss is your ultimate goal, know that losing two pounds a week is generally considered the maximum.
Satisfy your sweet tooth. Everyone, even the most dedicated health food fans, experience cravings from time to time. Most experts agree that it’s OK to answer your sweet tooth – in moderation of course. Before you take the plunge, think ab
out whether there are other options that could be a good substitute. For example, instead of a sugary candy bar, consider a naturally sweet slice of watermelon for a cholesterol-free, fat-free way to satisfy cravings at only 80 calories per 2-cup serving. Watermelon contains fiber and water, and packs a wealth of health benefits, in
cluding strong levels of vitamins A, C and B6.
Stay well hydrated. During the cooler winter months, it’s easy to let water consumption slide because you’re not feeling the heat and thirst you do in warmer weather. However, the dry winter air can also be hard on your body, so it’s important to keep that water flowing year-around. Most adults should aim for eight glasses of water each day, but you can also boost your water intake with foods that have a high water content, such as watermelon, which is 92 percent water and contains protein and fiber so you are satisfied on fewer calories while boosting your overall hydration.
Make Water Mouthwatering
A simple infusion of flavor gives water an instant upgrade, whether you’re looking to add some variety to your daily water consumption or you’re hosting an event and want to offer guests a unique and nutritious beverage. Use your favorite herbs and fruits to create one-of-a-kind combinations that provide refreshing rehydration. Try these pairings:
- Watermelon with basil, mint or lime
- Strawberry with lime and basil
- Cucumber and rosemary
- Mixed berries and mint
- Pineapple with coconut
Find more inspiration for health-conscious habits in the new year at watermelon.org.
Island Fruit Salad
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1/2 lime (1 tablespoon), juiced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons rum extract
- 2 kiwis, peeled and diced
- 1 orange, sectioned and halved
- 2 cups seedless watermelon, chopped
- 2 teaspoons flaked, sweetened coconut
- In small bowl, combine water and coconut sugar; microwave 20 seconds. Stir to completely dissolve sugar. Let cool. Once cool, add lime juice and rum extract.
- In medium bowl, add kiwi, orange and watermelon. Pour rum juice over top and thoroughly toss. Let sit 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
- Divide fruit salad into two bowls and sprinkle with coconut.
Watermelon Protein Bites
Recipe courtesy of Anya Shinall of Anya’s Eats
- 1 cup pitted dates, soaked
- purified water
- 1 1/2 cups sprouted watermelon seeds, divided, plus additional for garnish
- 1 tablespoon coconut butter
- 1 cup fresh watermelon, chopped
- 1/8-1/4 cup roughly chopped beets (optional)
- Chop dates in half.
- Place dates in bowl of purified water and soak 1-2 hours.
- Remove dates from water bowl and place them into food processor.
- Pulse a few times then add 1 cup watermelon seeds, coconut butter and watermelon.
- Add chopped beets, if using.
- Blend until well combined, scraping sides of food processor as you go.
- Add remaining watermelon seeds and pulse, leaving some seeds chunky.
- For smoother texture, continue to blend.
- Remove mixture from food processor, place in small bowl and cover, allowing to cool in refrigerator 30 minutes.
- Remove mixture from fridge. With fingertips slightly wet, roll mixture into balls and place on a plate.
- Once done rolling, add watermelon seeds to top.
- Place watermelon bites in freezer 1-2 hours, or until frozen.
Steel-Cut Oats with Watermelon
- 1 cup 1 percent milk, plus additional (optional)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
- 3/4 cup diced seedless watermelon
- 2 tablespoons dried tart cherries or cranberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- In medium saucepan over high heat, bring 1 cup milk and water to gentle boil. Pour in oats. Stir; return to gentle boil then reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, 20-30 minutes.
- While oats are cooking, in small bowl, combine watermelon, dried fruit, nuts and maple syrup.
- Portion out oats and top with watermelon mixture. Add additional milk, if desired.