Healthy Food for Kids (and Dieters)
© Katherine Poehlmann, PhD
If your kids clamor for pizza, burgers, fries, or microwaved snacks after school, it shows that their taste buds have been conditioned to demand sugar and fat. The school cafeterias are slowly yielding to demands by parents concerned about childhood obesity to serve healthy foods instead of the traditional hot dogs, potato chips, and pizza.
Kids love bite-sized “finger foods”. When they come home from school, try serving a plate of 3 or 4 of the following with colorful toothpicks and watch it disappear:
· natural (not processed!) cheese cubes
· slices of fresh apple, pear, tangerine, or orange
· unsalted walnut pieces
· sunflower seeds
· chunks of fresh coconut
· cubes of melon or pineapple (fresh or unsweetened canned)
· banana slices
· fresh berries or cherries in season
· sliced jicama
· dill (not sweet!) pickle slices
· cherry tomatoes
· slices of hard-boiled eggs or deviled eggs
· “baby” carrots
· thin slices of ham/chicken/turkey
Air-popped popcorn with a low fat butter spray and a little organic sea salt is nice for an occasional treat. Kids may balk at celery, but provide a yogurt-based dipping sauce and this attitude may change.
It takes just a little more time to prepare your own finger food snacks (and is a lot less expensive) than to purchase ready-made convenience food products that contain unhealthy ingredients. Often a large batch of homemade snacks can be prepared at one time and frozen in small quantities.
A cup of plain yogurt drizzled with a tablespoon of honey is far better than fruit-flavored yogurt. Check the label on these pre-sweetened products. You will find they contain lots of sugar and are high in calories. Make smoothies in your blender with plain yogurt as a base to which you add naturally sweet berries. Serve instead of ice cream.
Always check the label when buying fruit drinks. Buy those that indicate “100% juice”. Anything less, and you are paying for sugared water.
Forego the impulse to buy fried chicken, covered with MSG-seasoned breading and grease. Instead, buy a hot rotisserie chicken at the deli section of the market. Cut all the meat off the bones, separating the white meat from the dark meat. Store in snack bags and freeze for later use as finger food, salad topping, an addition to soup, or sandwich filling. Eat or refrigerate/freeze the chicken within two hours to avoid bacteria contaminating it. Bacteria become active between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure the chicken is hot when you buy it.
Dr. Poehlmann is the author of Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection, available at Amazon.com and major bookstores, or click here to order now.