March is National Nutrition Month®, an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The occasion is a good opportunity for families to learn how to prepare healthy foods together, said Teresa Henson, Extension specialist – nutrition outreach coordinator for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 1890 Cooperative Extension Program.
“As family members consider ways to eat healthier foods, they should be sure to include children in the discussion,” she said. “Learning about nutritious food options will help children and youth make healthy eating choices as they grow up. Once they learn how to prepare tasty and nutritious snacks, they won’t be so tempted to eat processed snacks high in sugars and sodium.”
To help children and youth make healthy eating decisions, Henson said parents can teach their children to make the following snacks recommended by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
Parfait: Layer vanilla or plain low-fat yogurt with fruit and dried cereal.
Sandwich cut-outs: Make a sandwich using whole grain bread. Children can cut out their favorite shape using a big cookie cutter.
Mini-pizza: Toast a whole-wheat English muffin. Drizzle with pizza sauce and sprinkle with low-fat mozzarella cheese.
Frozen treats: Mix equal amounts of fat-free plain or flavored yogurt with 100 percent fruit juice, then pour into paper cups and freeze for a tasty treat.
Quesadilla: Sprinkle shredded cheese over a corn or whole-wheat tortilla. Fold in half and microwave for 20 seconds. Top with salsa.
Stuff a whole-grain pita pocket with ricotta cheese and Granny Smith apple slices. Add a dash of cinnamon.
Smoothies: Blend low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana for 30 seconds for a delicious smoothie.
Inside-out sandwich: Spread mustard on a slice of deli turkey. Wrap around a sesame breadstick.
Granola bars: Bake homemade chewy granola bars using whole-grain oats and dried fruit.
Muffins: Whip up mini-muffins using healthy ingredients such as whole-grain flours and pureed fruit.
“For another tasty dessert option, children can sprinkle cinnamon on unsweetened applesauce and enjoy with a whole grain graham cracker for a taste similar to apple pie,” Henson said. “Alternatively, they can dip slices of fruit or whole-grain graham crackers into low-fat vanilla pudding or yogurt.”
Henson recommends that parents teach their children how to make the USDA Mixing Bowl recipe for berry parfait. Those who don’t eat dairy products can prepare the parfait using soy yogurt.
The Crunchy Berry Parfait recipe includes ingredients — 1/2 cup yogurt, non-fat vanilla, 1 cup blueberries or strawberries (fresh or frozen thawed), 1/2 cup low-fat granola (or crunchy cereal); directions — Spoon yogurt into glass, then top with fruit and granola.
Henson said parents and their children can find more recipes and nutrition tips at www.kidseatright.org.
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