All Posts In Back to School

Kids’ Snacks To Watch Out For

by in Back to School, October 11, 2012

fruit snacks
Clever marketing and confusing ingredient lists make processed junk look like a healthy choice for your kids. Get the facts about these healthy imposters.

Fruit & Vegetable Pouches
These squeezable sacks of suckable fruit and veggie concoctions promise mess-less nutrition but you might be getting more sugar than produce – many are sweetened with fruit juice concentrates (check labels). Even if your favorite brand’s recipe does only contain mashed fruits and vegetables, this process will destroy some of the nutrients and fiber. Plus, sucking food out of a pouch doesn’t exactly foster healthy easting habits as far as I’m concerned.  Handing off the occasional pouch is fine but these sacs should not become a replacement for good old fruits and veggies.

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Sports Nutrition Tips for the School-Aged Athlete

by in Back to School, Fitness, September 13, 2012

kids sports
Back to school also means back to sports. From elementary age to college-bound, these tips will help any athlete P.E.R.F.O.R.M their best.

  • Pick nutrient dense foods

Athletes need vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep those muscles pumping. Calcium, iron, Vitamins C and D, and B-vitamins can be found in dairy, fruits, veggies, breads and cereals.

  • Eat throughout the day

Nothing stalls metabolism like an empty tank. Eating every three to four hours is a must for peak performance in the classroom and on the field.

The Fastest Breakfasts for Busy Mornings

by in Back to School, September 13, 2012

smoothies
If you’ve got a hectic household like me, you know the CRAZINESS that ensues every morning. Three kids to dress and feed, dealing with last-minute dilemmas plus I need to be in tip-top shape for work. Here are nutrition-packed, quick go-to breakfast options for any sort of time crunch.

If you have 15 Minutes:
There’s just enough time to quickly cook some warmer breakfast fare.

Egg Wraps
Scrambled eggs wrapped in a whole-wheat or flour tortilla with salsa or cheese. What could be better?

Oatmeal
If you’re cooking during your morning rush, choose quick-cooking oats. You can also cook the oatmeal the night before, store in the fridge, and microwave quickly in the morning.

Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon, cream cheese and sliced veggies make Ellie’s New York Breakfast a delicious and quick option.

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Nut-Free Lunch Options

by in Back to School, September 11, 2012

kitchen sink cookies
Nowadays, making classrooms or school lunch tables “nut free” is necessary to keep kiddies with allergies safe. Whether you have a little one with an allergy or kiddos that attend an allergy-sensitive school, here are some delicious replacements for typically nut-inspired foods.

1.) Cream Cheese and Jelly
This classic sandwich is an oldie but goodie. Make it extra special with homemade jam.

2.) Soy Nut Butter
A tasty alternative for dipping apple slices, carrot sticks or with jelly on whole-grain bread.

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Modernize Your Bagged Lunch

by in Back to School, September 7, 2012

lentil quinoa salad
With back-to-school season in full swing, talk of bagged lunches is a regular most mom-groups. As many of us do, we put more time into our kids and what they are eating and let our own diets fall by the wayside. Well, bagged lunches are not just for little ones. Planning and packing your own lunch is a sure-fire way to control the types of foods you are eating and the portion size. If you’re like me, you might need a little motivation. When my work-out gets dull a new sports bra or pair of sneaks often does the trick. Next thing you know I go from barely running a block to feeling like I could run a marathon with my new kicks on.

So, here are some really fun lunch-packing goodies to get you motivated to join the brown-bag movement. Hey, a few of these items may appeal to your kids as well and get them psyched about that extra piece of fruit or healthier snack you packed for them!

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Fruit Snacks: Are They Healthy?

by in Back to School, Is It Healthy?, August 28, 2012

fruit snacks
My three kids go gaga over fruit snacks—and they’re not the only ones. You can find them at the movies (in the kids snack pack), in birthday party goodie bags and in school snack or lunch bags. But are these chewy goodies good for our kiddos or just too good to be true?

Yes?
Fruit snacks run around 80-90 calories per small pouch—which is a reasonable amount of calories for a kids’ snack. They’re free of fat, cholesterol and are very low in sodium. Many also provide vitamins A and C.

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10 Fresh Brown-Bag Lunches for Kids

by in Back to School, August 27, 2012

pasta salad
Don’t let packing back-to-school lunches stress you out; we’ve got 10 fun and fresh ideas the kiddies will gobble up.

Safety First
Start by ensuring your little ones’ lunches are safe from food germs. Here are our food safety tips for packing kids’ lunches.

1.) Yogurt Parfait
Pack up yogurt, with small containers of fresh fruit and granola for crunch, and let kids layer them at lunchtime. Or try making the parfait ahead of time in a screw-top jar for a fun and healthy on-the-go lunch.

Regular or Greek? Find out which yogurt wins our Food Fight

2.) Quesadillas
Give grilled cheese a makeover! Combine whole-grain tortillas, veggies and cheese. Melt in the microwave, slice, and voila – excellent finger food hot or cold.

Get more quesadilla recipe ideas

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Taste Test: Juice Boxes

by in Back to School, Grocery Shopping, Taste Test, August 23, 2012

apple juice
With all the so-called “healthy” messages on juice boxes, it’s tough to decipher which is really the best choice for your little ones. We’ve tasted and anylized popular juices so you’ll be better informed on your next trip to the market.

Juicy Guidelines
Even if you’re giving your kids 100% juice, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following:

  • 1 to 6 years: Limit juice to 4 to 6 fluid ounces per day
  • 7 to 18 years: Limit juice to 8 to 12 ounces per day

Remember, fruit juice shouldn’t be used as a substitute for whole fruit. There are no nutritional benefits of drinking juice over whole fruit. It’s important to stick to the AAP guidelines as too much juice in your kiddos’ diet can lead to obesity, poor nutrition and tooth decay.

When shopping for juice, not all boxes are created equal and not all markets are stocked with the same brands. You want to look for those that are made from 100% juice as opposed to mostly sugar + water. Size also matters—for kids 6 and under, opt for the smallest (4.23 fluid-ounce) box whenever possible.

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What’s the Best School Lunch Program?

by in Back to School, Food News, September 16, 2011
kids at school lunch
How does your local school's lunch program rate?

With Michelle Obama’s push to promote healthy eating, some schools are taking action. We looked at public schools around the country to check out what they’re doing to make lunches healthier. We found some forward thinkers and amazing programs.

Washington State
The Bellevue School District in Washington State has implemented several healthy eating programs. The first is their Fruit, Vegetable and Grain of the Month Program. For the past 4 to 5 years, one food is featured from each category and information can be found on the district website. There are also educational signs posted in the lunch room and tasting that’s done in the elementary, middle and high schools. Some featured grains have been farro, brown rice, wheat pasta, wheat berries, couscous, and bulgur. Hot, grain-based sides will also be offered this year such as lentil-barley pilaf and wheat berry stuffing.

This year, the Bellevue School District is also implementing Meatless Mondays. Some featured items on the menu are cheese-stuffed pasta shells, cheese enchiladas and a hummus platter.

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Packing a Safe Lunch

by in Back to School, Food Safety, August 31, 2011
kids looking into lunchbox
Feed them well, keep them safe.

A new study published in the August issue of Pediatrics may change the way you pack your child’s lunch this school year. Find out the shocking results and what you can do to keep your child safe from food-borne illness.

The Study
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin tested temperatures of pre-school lunches in 9 Texas day care centers. Lunches of 235 kids with at least one perishable food items were checked 90 minutes before lunch. The researchers also noted whether lunches contained ice packs. The results were astounding:

  • 39% of the lunches had no ice packs.
  • 45.1% of the lunches had at least 1 ice pack.
  • 88.2% of the lunches were found to be at a hazardous temperature.
  • 1.6% of perishable items checked were found to be safe.
  • Even lunches with multiple ice packs were found to be at unsafe temperatures.

This means that most kids (at least from the sample studied here) were eating food that was unsafe. This is especially scary since we’re talking about young children who are more susceptible to becoming sick from food bugs due to a weaker immune system. So what’s a parent to do to keep their kiddies safe?

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