Summer is here and school is out…..and now you have to feed your kids ALL DAY. It seems like my kids eats at least double their daily food in summer compared to the rest of the year. Requests for food seem to come almost hourly!!
Summer does however create the opportunity to talk to your kids about nutrition, to teach them about ingredients and some basic cooking techniques.
I talk to my kids about nutrition when we are grocery shopping, tending our garden or cooking together. These conversations come very naturally during these times.
Here are some of the things that we talk about:
1: The Rainbow Principle. The different colors of fruit and vegetables are determined by the different nutrients they supply. Eating a variety of different colors means their bodies will have a full spectrum of important nutrients.
2: How much vegetables and fruit should they be eating to maintain a healthy body.
Approximately 90% of Americans are not getting their daily intake of fruit and vegetables. These figures are even worse in our kids. Most kids (and their parents) are not aware of exactly how much veggies and fruit that they should be consuming everyday.
USDA Vegetable Consumption Guidelines
Ages 1-3 2 servings*/day
Ages 4-8 3-4 servings*/day
Ages 9-12 4-5 servings*/day
Ages 13-19 4-7 servings*/day
* 1 serving equals 1 cup of raw leafy greens or 1/2 cup of chopped vegetables.
USDA Guidelines for Fruit Consumption in Children and Adolescents: (9) (10)
Ages 1-3 2 servings*/ day
Ages 4-8 3 servings*/ day
Ages 9-12 3-4 servings*/ day
Ages 13-19 3-5 servings*/ day
*1 serving equals a small apple, orange or banana, or half a cup of chopped fruit.
Making my kids aware of what they should be eating, has made it easier to get them to eat the right foods. Please note that i still have 1 picky eater, despite all this ‘training’.
Here is a link to some printable charts that have really helped my kids track and increase their intakes.
Super Healthy Kids has developed a really fun Nutrition game that can be helpful when teaching your kids about nutrition .
Other fun summer ideas that encourage healthy eating habits include starting your own garden and teaching kids how to cook.
There are loads of great articles, such as this one from BBC on how to teach your kids age appropriate skills such as cracking eggs, measuring dry and wet ingredients, mixing dough or batter, mashing, weighing, chopping, and using a slow cooker or spiralizer. Cooking is a one of the best skills to launch your child into a lifetime of healthy eating. Cooking together is also great time to spend quality time together.
Here are some easy, fun, kid friendly meal ideas for all those moments when you are thinking “what am i going to feed the kids this time?”
Shakes- Shakes are a great way to get loads of whole food ingredients especially leafy green vegetables into your kids. if your kids are hesitant to try green looking shakes, hide them in healthy chocolate shakes, place them in an opaque bottle with a lid, add berries or just increase the ‘greeness’ of your shakes very gradually.
Eggs- Eggs are a fabulous source of protein and omega 3’s. They are so convenient and can be scrambled, fried, poached, boiled and made into omelets or breakfast fritattas. Eggs are a perfect munchies buster.
Plain greek yogurt with fruit. Sweetened yogurts are often laden with sugar and other nasties such as artificial colors and flavors. Stick with a good quality plain yogurt (no rBGH), and add sweetness with fresh or frozen fruit. If your child wants additional sweetness, mix in some KidzShake powder or drizzle on a small amount of honey or maple syrup.
Oatmeal or millet porridge. My favorite twist on oatmeal/ porridge is to cook or soak them in coconut milk and top with nuts, seeds and berries.
Healthy breakfast muffins.
Baked oatmeal. This is great for breakfast on the go and can be frozen for later.
Homemade Granola. Try to use a small amount of rice malt, honey or maple syrup as a sweetener. Use lots of nuts and seeds to deliver a healthy protein boost. My other favorite add ins are unsweetened coconut chips and unsulfured, unsweetened dried or dehydrated fruit.
Healthy pancakes. Maybe try coconut flour recipes. Be careful of the toppings!!
Healthy Toast- make sure that you choose a bread that has good ingredients. My family’s favorite toppings include avocado, pb and banana, and nut butters. Try out this PB & B recipe.
Many of these are great snack options too!!
Cut up vegetables with yummy dips. Snap peas, brocolli, cauliflower, carrots and peppers with hummus varieties, 7 layer dip, guacamole and a healthy, homemade ranch dressing.
Fruit: Fruit can be prepared so many ways- Cut up, kebabs, frozen bitesize chunks, coated in good quality dark chocolate, yogurt, pb and rolled in granola. The possibilities are endless.
Homemade popsicle. Use your left-over smoothie mix or stick fruit and veggies in the blender. Add avocado or coconut milk for a super creamy popsicle. Check out this Coconana Popsicle recipe
Popcorn. The good news is that all popcorn is GMO free. Stick to savory varieties to avoid sugar overload.
Nuts and Trail mix. Make sure you check the ingredients if you are not making your own.
Protein balls and energy balls- great way to incorporate superfoods
Fruit or Vegetable Breads. Zucchini, pumpkin or banana breads can be a great treat, just make sure that you check the sugar quantity. Never be afraid to try to reduce the sugar in your favorite recipes. here is a link to my favorite, naturally gluten free banana bread.
Homemade Granola and Granola Bars. Again be careful to avoid sugar overload with these options.
Corn on the Cobb. Boil or BBQ for a quick, delicious treat for the kids.
Cheese. Cheese is a great appetite supressor, and can be a great way to satisfy those before dinner munchies.
Shakes. Quick and easy!!
Salads. The best way to get my kids to eat salads is to get them to make them themselves. I set some basic rules, like yes you must have SOME leafy greens and at least 1 slice of tomato. Get creative with loads of different toppings. Try out some different dressings to see which ones will get your kids to eat salads. if you buy store bought dressings, make sure you read the ingredient list. I recommend Tessa-mae salad dressings.
Taco bar. Tacos are not just for dinner and they are a great way to get veggies into your kids.
Sandwich and Wraps. Quality breads and quality quality toppings will yield a healthy lunch. Sometimes forgo the bread/ wrap and use lettuce leaves instead.
Loaded potatoes or sweet potatoes.
Homemade chicken nuggets. Most store bought nuggets just don’t taste like normal chicken, so have a go at making your own…even better teach the kids how to do it. Here is one of my favorite easy nugget recipes.
Sushi. This can be a great option if you are out or it can be a fun activity at home. Don’t limit yourself to white rice. Healthier options include brown rice, wild rice or quinoa
Frittata or quiches. Save the left-overs for breakfast or lunch the next day.
Meatballs. A variety of meats can be used to make meatballs. They can be served with a salad, in a soup, or with a sauce. i always substitute quinoa for breadcrumbs to make a healthier meatball.
Salads. Salads do not have to be confined to lunch. Taco salads, chinese chicken salads and chop salads are all kid friendly salads.
Grilled meat and vegetables or a side salad. Good ingredients equals good food, so sometimes keep it simple.
Kebabs. Kids (and big kids) do love anything on a kebab stick.
Burgers. Homemade burgers can be made very easily in a food processor or high powered blender. Options include turkey, chicken, beef, lamb, vegetables or beans. Garlic, herbs and spices jazz up any burger.
Spiralized veggies. A great way to eat gluten free, avoid processed carbs and increase your vegetable intake.
Cut up fruit. Keep it simple. Enjoy the natural sweetness of the seasonal fruit available in summer.
Frozen grapes or cherries.
Nicecream and fruit sorbets. Nicecreams can be very easily made with KidzShake or frozen bananas. Its a great way to indulge without all the guilt.
Yogurt parfaits. Ditch the ice cream for much healthier greek yogurt.
Chia seed puddings
Dark Chocolate. Often a square or too will provide enough after dinner sweetness,