The weather is warm, the pool is open, and there are just a few weeks of school left on the calendar. Educators encourage children to follow academic habits for the summer months to avoid the “summer brain drain.” Children who don’t continue reading during the summer can fall behind in their school work. Parents need to encourage reading as something pleasurable to do as opposed to another task on a “to do” list.
The same goes for healthy eating habits. Summer vacation should not mean an endless stream of chili dogs and root beer floats. Moderation, as always, is important.
A tip we learned from Melissa d’Arabian is to keep all healthy snacks within reach. She puts good food choices in clear plastic containers and has them available in the front of cabinets and refrigerator shelves where they are the first items to be seen and easily retrieved. Take a look at her ideas for a well-stocked pantry.
Smoothies are perfect for the hot days ahead. They make a great power breakfast in the morning before a day of camp. Recipes can provide dairy, fruit servings, protein, and fiber. Get some silly straws to make the morning fuel-up even more fun.
Cold soups are always refreshing for dinner on a steamy night. Tomato, carrot, and avocado soups make for a light summer supper with a salad. Maybe your kids were never fans of tomato soup, or potato and leek, but find they like the dish better when it is served chilled.
For a healthier spin on a snow cone, try this recipe for a watermelon granita from Whole Foods Market. It combines the icy refreshment with the good-for-you ingredient of sweet watermelon. You can buy paper cones from the craft store and pile the scoops of granita as high as you can for an after-dinner treat as you watch fireflies blink about.
The road trip can be the downfall of every family’s healthy summer eating plan. Unexpected traffic and unplanned stops can result in the family car heading into a drive-thru to calm cranky and hungry kids. The key is to plan ahead. Pack pre-portioned plastic bags of non-perishable snacks like crackers, almonds, and baked tortilla chips. You can get some more tips for meals-on-the-go with kids from Catherine Newman over at Epicurious.
Helping kids make healthy choices this summer just takes a little preparation before heading out the door.
Alice Knisley Matthias is a mom of two boys who love to trade weird-but-true facts. She writes about food, family, education and garden. She loves to cook, grow fresh herbs, and believes in an organic lifestyle for her family in the kitchen and the garden. Her work has appeared in Eating Well, Highlights for Children, Boys’ Life, Chicken Soup for the Soul, What to Expect, Cook n’ Scribble and an America’s Test Kitchen Cook’s Country Cookbook. She is the author of herbinkitchen.com and a regular blogger for KIDS DISCOVER. Find her on Twitter.
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