4 Steps for a Healthier Summer

June 2015
By Brittany Lightsey, M.S., R.D., L.D.

If you are anything like me you are thinking, “Is that it? This school year is over?” We have made it to June, days are longer, the temperature is hotter … and your kiddos are bored. Don’t let boredom turn eating into an activity. Instead, follow these simple steps to keep your family’s health habits on track through the summer.

Step 1: Do a pantry inventory.
Look through your pantry and see what’s available. Do you see chips, cookies, sugary cereals, fruit snacks? What drinks are available? Soda, drink pouches, powdered drink mixes? Let this supply run out, then don’t buy any more. This is really important for summertime when boredom takes over and food/eating becomes an activity. Think chips vs. an unwashed un-cut container of strawberries. Which will be eaten first? That’s right, chips. Think out of sight, out of mind! You as the parent have to be OK with your child eating something if it is in your house.

Step 2: Make a grocery list and shop the perimeter.
Think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat/fat-free dairy. When venturing to the snack aisle – trade fruit snacks for unsweetened applesauce and fruit cups packed in 100% juice or light syrup; choose whole wheat crackers and whole wheat pretzels over chips; swap sugary granola bars for a kiddo-approved trail mix (watch the added candies). Choose low-fat yogurt and cheese sticks.

Step 3: Make healthy food easy (and fun) to eat!
Wash and cut fresh fruits and vegetables. Place at your children’s eye level.
Pre-portion crackers, trail mix, and salad dressings for portion control and to make them easy to take on the go. Use cookie cutters to cut melon or sandwiches into shapes. Be silly with your snacks and turn food into art!

Step 4: Involve your children in planning and preparing.
Have your children pick out a fruit or vegetable to try every week. Your job as Mom or Dad is to purchase and prepare it. If it doesn’t turn out so well the first time, try not to turn your nose up at it. Let your child determine his/her own food preference without Mom or Dad saying, “Yuck!”

Shop Healthy on a Budget
Ideas by Sumadhuri Pamarthi, GSU Dietetic Intern

  • A 1-pound bag of brown rice costs about $1.75 and contains 10 servings.
  • You can get a 13- to 16-ounce box or bag of store-brand dried pasta for about $1.69.
  • A 42-ounce container of old-fashioned store brand oats costs around $3.99, and each container has about 30 servings.
  • Frozen vegetables come in 12-ounce to 24-ounce bags that cost anywhere from $1.75 to $2.25 and contain 6-8 single-cup servings.

 

June - Summer Zucchini

Zucchini Pizza Bites
Adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

Ingredients:
2 large zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
Olive oil, for brushing zucchini
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
1/4 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
Fresh basil, chopped, optional*

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Brush both sides of zucchini rounds with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 10 minutes on large baking sheet. Remove from oven and top with small amounts of sauce and cheese. Roast for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted, taking care not to burn. Sprinkle with freshly chopped basil, if desired.

Tip! Basil is an easy herb to grow at home. It will tolerate summer heat with moist, well-drained soil.