Healthful Summer Snacks

13142752_SWith summer coming, active children need good food to fuel their days. You can help direct them to healthy choices by making it easy to select the foods that are best for them. Here are a few ways to deliver healthful foods to your family.

Make it easy to eat well: Just the effort of washing and cutting up fruit and veggies can discourage your children from choosing those options. If you have pre-washed fruit cut in easy sizes to grab, and pre-chopped veggies next to a tasty dip – maybe made with ranch dressing mix and Greek yogurt – your children will be more likely to reach for the good stuff.

Make the junk hard-to-get or unavailable: You choose what goes in your shopping cart, so you control what options your kids have when it comes to food. If you know that bags of cookies last only hours in your house, just don’t buy them. Choose flavorful but more healthful options such as fruit-flavored frozen yogurt or cheese and crackers. Buy smaller containers of sweets, or distribute a limited amount yourself as part of a complete snack or dessert after a meal.

Consider smoothie: Kids love the cold and taste of fruit smoothies. You don’t need any fancy equipment to whip up a partially-frozen treat. Put some of the fruit in the freezer to keep things icy, and then blend in a standard blender. Frozen berries are often less expensive and more convenient than fresh and they taste just as good when added to the mix. Include some yogurt, almond or coconut milk, a banana and a few ice cubes to favorite fruits to make a drink that’s tasty and healthful.

Make your kitchen a great source for healthful food all summer. It will be good for them and for you too!

Say Hello to Spring with Food Choices

18547390_SSome foods simply say spring. For those who live in the Midwest, asparagus is the first spring vegetable to appear. It grows right out of the ground, looking just like the spears to the left. From the small tip appearing to this size only takes a few days. Cut it off and another appears shortly.

Baby lettuce is another spring visitor. Before it gets too hot here in Arizona you can grow almost any kind of lettuce. Once again, just pick the outside leaves and the lettuce plant will continue to grow, or harvest several varieties while they’re still small and make a delicious fresh lettuce salad like the one in the photo below.

6043889_SRadishes and strawberries also fit the spring mode. Radishes can be planted the minute it’s warm enough to put out seeds, and they have a very short growth period, so you can harvest them when all of your other vegetables are still in process. Strawberries tend to produce in the spring, but you can buy ever bearing varieties that will give you fruit for a longer stretch.

Even if you don’t have a garden, spring is the best time to pick up these fresh ingredients in the grocery store or farmer’s market.

Cook your asparagus gently in the microwave or steamer and just add a little butter and lemon juice and they’re ready to eat. The salad shown will shine with a light vinaigrette. Mix olive oil, a delicate vinegar such as white wine or raspberry, a bit of Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and a hint of sugar to your taste. You can also sweeten it with fruit juice to add more of a fresh fruit flavor.

This salad also works well with fresh blueberries or raspberries. You may even be able to get your salad-resisters to give a dish like this a taste.