The daffodils are beginning to bloom and trees about to bud here in Atlanta.
Spring arrives mid-March, right after St. Patrick’s Day.
But the whole month is a celebration for eating right because March is National Nutrition Month!!!
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics serves up heaping helpings of advice on food, nutrition and cuisine. This year’s theme is Eat Your Way, Every Day!
A personalized approach to nutrition advice is the most successful plan. Take snacking, for instance.
Snacking between meals, whether it’s mid-morining or mid-afternoon is a way of life in the USA. As dietitians we like to say, “Make your snack count!” Choose healthy snacks that serve up good taste and good nutrition.
A lot of families are ramping up their snack attack because Spring sports are starting!
If your kids need to snack after school on their way to sports practice or after practice to tide them over until dinner – then you might need a bit of coaching to help choose the healthiest snacks.
I’m thrilled to be working with Sunbelt Bakery to get the good word out on healthy snacking for families. The best news is that the right snack can not only be good for you – it tastes good and is ready to be on the go with your busy schedule.
The granola bars in the photo below are one of my faves- chocolate chip! At only 140 calories each, they’re just the right portion size too. Their whole grain goodness comes from whole grain oats. Pair with a cup of low fat or fat free milk and you’ll add 8 grams of high quality protein to your snack break, too.
Meanwhile, back at Spring training…….kids are on the move and need fuel and fluids to keep them going. Water is great of course but fruits and vegetables provide good hydration, too.
Think of snacks as mini-meals with what I call a “Tasty Snack Trio” including:
Protein foods (cheese, milk, yogurt, hard boiled egg, hummus, slice of turkey or ham)
Whole Grain foods (whole wheat crackers, granola cereal on yogurt, granola bars )
Garden foods ( fruits, vegetables) TIP: always cut up fruit so it’s easier to eat. Apple slices will disappear while the whole apple may go uneaten.
So how much is enough for a snack? Well, it depends on the age of the child and how active they are. Generally, I like to recommend about 150 calories for snack occasion. That places granola bars right in the sweet spot! Add a handful of grapes or easy-to-peel clementine orange ( which are in season right now! ) and you’re good to go. Game on!
Meals on the Move is the name of the game for smart snacking for game or practice for the Meal Makeover Moms- registered dietitians Liz Weiss and Janice Bissex.
- Get kids hydrated before they head out the door by whipping up a naturally delicious fruit smoothie. Blend together 100% fruit juice, fresh and/or frozen fruit, and low-fat yogurt. For added protein, opt for Greek yogurt.
- On-the-go snacks can include:
Homemade trail mix with granola cereal, nuts, whole grain pretzels, dried fruit, and maybe a few dark chocolate chips tossed in!l
Low-fat cheese sticks, squeeze yogurts (go for Greek squeeze yogurts for more protein), mini fruit cups packed in juice or applesauce, hummus with pretzels or baby carrots for dipping, popcorn (it’s a whole grain!)
- Pack along a homemade “sport” drink by combining your child’s favorite fruit juice with water and a few ice cubes.
Note on sports drinks: Make sure to read the nutrition facts label. They can contain just as many calories as a soft drink. They are not for guzzling. One cup ( 8 ounces ) is enough to replace electrolytes in young athletes who are practicing or competing rigorously. Still thirsty? Drink some more water. Carolyn O’Neil
The Home Team
Having meals at the ready when you get home from a practice or game is ideal when both parents are at the side line … and not minding the kitchen stove. Fast ideas from Liz and Janice, The Meal Makeover Moms include …
- Omelet made with sauteed veggies and low-fat cheese. Eggs are rich in protein and cook up in minutes.
- Slow cooker: Load the slow cooker in the morning and dinner is ready when you get home!
- Keep a well stocked pantry to make quick-assembly meals possible. One of our favorite fast meals – Drain and rinse a can of black beans, thaw some frozen corn kernels, chop up some leftover roasted chicken, and you’ve got the makings of a quesadilla. Top a flour tortilla with beans, corn, leftover chicken, shredded low-fat cheese, and BBQ sauce, fold in half, heat some canola oil in a skillet, and sautee about three minutes per side.
Thank you: Liz Weiss, MS, RD and Janice Bissex, MS, RD are the dietitian duo behind the popular website,MealMakeoverMoms.com and authors of, No Whine with Dinner: 150 Healthy, Kid-Tested Recipes from The Meal Makeover Moms (M3 Press, 2011)
What about Dessert Mom?!
Crunchy Granola Fruit Bake is an EZ dessert for a busy school plus sports night. Place frozen blueberries ( you can use fresh but frozen are nutritious and ready when you are) in a baking dish, top with Sunbelt granola cereal and bake for 20 minutes. Top with frozen yogurt. Yum!