Showing posts with label Snack Time. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Snack Time. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 13

SNACKTIME: healthy nutrition habits for the whole family

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recommends a tasty Mediterranean-style diet for promoting good health and preventing disease. The basis of this nutritional recommendation comes from traditional dietary preferences in Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain. Families can enjoy a super healthy plant-based diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes (beans, peas, and tofu), and whole grains without giving up meat.

In fact, an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean-style diet provides a host of benefits. The diet helps reduce risks of heart disease and cancer, as well as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

Key components of a Mediterranean-style diet:

  • Eat primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts (tofu = soybeans = plant).
  • Replace butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil.
  • Use herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
  • Limit red meat to no more than a few times a month.
  • Eat fish and poultry at least twice a week.

Practical tip #1
Keep nuts like almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts handy for a quick snack.  Pair with fruit or whole grain crackers for convenient after school snacking.

Practical tip #2
Dip celery, carrots, or cucumbers in hummus.

Select natural peanut butter instead of brands with added hydrogenated fat. Try blended sesame seeds (tahini) as a dip or spread for bread. A Mediterranean food guide is available on Health Facts for You, a fact sheet prepared by UW Health.

Submitted by Leslie Kay-Getzinger, MS RD
Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services Company

Image credit: Nazareth Healthcare

Wednesday, April 15

SNACKTIME: why children should stay away from energy drinks

Seeking to gain a competitive edge in sports, 6th through 12th grade students are attracted to heavily marketed sports and energy drinks.  Unfortunately, there is confusion about the difference between the two products, which can lead to potential health risks, especially to children. Before diving into this dilemma, understand that water is the most effective means to replace a body’s lost fluids.

Sports drinks that are high in carbohydrates help replenish the body's depleted stores after prolonged exercise (60 minutes or more). Sports drinks help maintain the body's electrolyte balance and provide carbohydrates for additional energy. On the other hand, energy drinks contain stimulants in various combinations, such as caffeine and guarana (an herb containing caffeine). Labels can be confusing to read, and a single bottle may contain two to three servings of the drink with total caffeine content exceeding 400 to 500 milligrams per can or bottle.  This substantial amount of caffeine is too much for anybody, particularly a child.

By comparison, the average cup of coffee contains about 150 milligrams of caffeine while a cup of cocoa contains about 15 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce cup. Adverse effects associated with caffeine consumption in amounts of 400 milligrams or more include nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, increased urination, abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia), decreased bone levels, and upset stomach. The caffeine contributed by energy drinks can cause a number of harmful health effects in children, including effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, poison centers received 2,810 reports of exposures to energy drinks in 2014. More than 1,600 were children age 18 and younger. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and adolescents do not consume energy drinks. Also, the American Medical Association supports banning the marketing of energy drinks to children under 18.

Want a competitive edge? Eat healthy, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep. The bottom line is to avoid energy drinks as they pose potential health risks for children and teenagers.
See Sports drinks: Better than water?  A tip from the Mayo Clinic

Submitted by Leslie Kay-Getzinger, MS RD
Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services Company
Image by Mother Nature Network

Wednesday, March 18

SNACKTIME: Healthy Meal and Snack Suggestions for Keeping Your Student Athlete Strong and Fit

Maximize Your Students’ Athletic Performance and Recovery with Meals and Snacks that Make Sense!

Start the Day Strong with Breakfast

Food is fuel. The body needs protein, carbohydrates, and fat at every meal.  Most food contains a combination of each of these nutrients. Whole grain cereal and milk (dairy, soy, or almond) contribute carbs and protein with the right amount of fat. Protein is important for building muscle. Good sources of animal protein include eggs, turkey bacon, and dairy products. Vegetarian sources include tofu and nuts (PB and jelly anyone?)

Carbohydrate Fuels Muscle Cells
Carbohydrates, stored in the body in the form of glycogen, power muscles during exercise and replenish the liver after physical activity.  Maximize glycogen reserves during meal time with complex carbohydrates such as whole grain rice, potatoes, quinoa, potato, corn, sweet potato, and legumes (baked beans anyone?)

High carb snacks include yogurt, whole-grain bagels with peanut butter, fruit or juice, energy bars, and trail mix (nuts, dried fruit, seeds and maybe some dark chocolate chips). Lean meat combined with vegetables and a starchy side dish (potato, rice or whole grain) balance out the dinner.


What you drink is as important as what you eat. Staying well hydrated is essential for sustaining optimal energy levels, as well as preventing muscle cramping and maintaining a safe core body temperature. Yogurt, soup, smoothies, fresh vegetables, and fruits (especially watermelon) all have a high fluid content. Drink plenty of water and stay away from drinks that have heavy amounts of sugar or other forms of sweeteners.

Food is Fuel
Athletes should eat throughout the day to maintain high energy levels. It is recommended to have a healthy meal or snack every three to four hours and avoid long stretches of time without eating.

Submitted by Leslie Kay-Getzinger, MS RD
Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services Company

Monday, February 23

SNACKTIME Why fruits and veggies are important during the flu season

To keep your family in tip-top shape during the cold and flu season, make sure everyone is giving their bodies the resources they need to fuel their immune systems. This means fresh, healthy food!

Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals (plant compounds) that help children stay strong and healthy.  These nutrients support skin, eyes, heart, and the digestive system. Did you know that eighty percent of our immune system is located in our digestive system?

Color Counts!
Try a variety from the rainbow colors listed below to help support your family's immune systems.

-Green fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, sugar snap peas, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage, green beans, celery, spinach, kale, and bok choy.

-Red fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene, known to be involved in the immune function. Some examples include cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grapefruit, red grapes, watermelon, beets, red onions, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb, and tomatoes.

-Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C and alpha/ beta-carotenes, which protect cell membranes. Examples include oranges, tangerines, papayas, apricot, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mango, papaya, pineapple, carrots, yellow pepper, yellow corn, squash, and sweet potatoes.

-Purple and blue fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins and vitamin C. They have antioxidant benefits and help protect the body’s cells. Examples include blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins, eggplant, and purple cabbage.

-White, tan, and brown foods contain flavonoids that protect cell membranes, which help support heart health and reduce cancer risks. Examples include bananas, pears, dates, cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic, onions, parsnips, turnips, white-fleshed potatoes, and white corn.

School-age children need between 1 1/2 to 3 cups of vegetables and 1 to 2 cups of fruit each day. A few bites at every meal can easily add up. Kids love to dip! Have sliced fresh fruit or vegetables ready for after-school snacks. Try dipping veggies or fruit in yogurt, bean dip, peanut butter, or low-fat salad dressing.

Submitted by Leslie Kay, MS, RD
Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Food Services

Image Credit: Everyday Families

Thursday, December 18

SNACKTIME: Fun, healthy holiday recipes

Cooking with your children during the holiday season offers opportunities to have fun in the kitchen and build lifelong memories. As an alternative to making only sweet, not so healthy holiday treats, consider preparing healthier versions from scratch with your children using simple substitutions or additions. This will significantly improve the nutritional content without compromising flavor or fun!

Substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose white flour
--Use ¾ to one cup of whole wheat flour to replace one cup of all-purpose flour. Since whole wheat flour is slightly denser, you may need to add a bit more liquid to the recipe.

Nutritional Benefit:
Whole wheat flour provides more fiber, vitamin E, B vitamins and trace minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc and copper than all-purpose, white flour.

Substitute flaxseed for butter or oil in baked goods
--Flaxseed provides a fat substitute in most recipes. Three tablespoons of ground or milled flaxseed can replace one tablespoon of margarine, butter or cooking oil. Grind flaxseed in a coffee grinder or purchase packaged ground flax seed/flax seed meal. Flax has a slightly nutty flavor. Add to baked goods for a nutritional boost.

Nutritional Benefit:
Flaxseed contains lignans, a type of fiber and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an omega-3 fatty acid. Both help prevent inflammation that affects the body’s immune system and may also lower risk for certain types of cancer.

Additional ingredients for baked goods--Add chopped pecans, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts

Nutritional Benefit:
Nuts are rich in healthy, monounsaturated fats. They help stabilize blood-sugar levels and improve cholesterol and triglycerides, which may reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Nuts are high in fiber, magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6, which increase protection against cardiovascular disease.
Spices such as cinnamon, cloves and all-spice--For generations, traditional herbs and spices have been used as food, flavor enhancers, as well as to treat ailments. There is scientific evidence supporting how these herbs and spices provide medicinal properties that alleviate symptoms or prevent disease.

Nutritional Benefit:
Many spices such as cinnamon, cloves and ginger not only add flavor, they are high in antioxidants and other health promoting properties.

Enjoy holiday goodies more by modifying recipes just a bit to create healthier alternatives without sacrificing taste!

Submitted by Leslie Kay-Getzinger, MS RDN
Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services Company

Image credit: 

Wednesday, November 12

SNACKTIME recipes for healthy Thanksgiving favorites that kids will enjoy

Make Thanksgiving mealtimes even more enjoyable by making traditional favorites attractive to little ones. See how your dishes can be transformed into healthy, kid-friendly favorites in a few easy steps. Motivate your children to eat typical Thanksgiving dinner favorites by encouraging them to participate in making these delicious recipes.

Smashed Sweet Potato
Bake yams or sweet potatoes at 350°F for 90 minutes or until caramelized sugar seeps from the skin. Peel, mash, and flavor with orange peel and pumpkin-pie spice. Have children pick out their favority topping: a bit of brown sugar, a sprinkle of pecans or a crunchy layer of granola. You just might win a few converts.

Crunchy Carrot or Sweet Potato Fries
Loaded with phytonutrient goodness! Slice carrots or yams into 1/2-inch-wide sticks and toss in a bowl with olive oil and salt or other seasoning. Bake at 425°F on a dark, non-stick baking sheet or foil-lined baking pan until crisp, turning once. For even crispier fries, keep them in the oven a little longer (with the heat turned off).

Yummy Baked Apples
Fill a casserole dish with cored, unpeeled apples. Combine brown sugar, vanilla sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a small bowl and spoon into the apple cores. Dot with a bit of butter, pour boiling water into the bottom of the casserole dish and bake at 375°F for 30 to 45 minutes, or until tender. Baste the apples with the juices from the pan. Yum!

Spaghetti Squash
Children will be interested in trying a new food item that looks similar to some of their favorite foods. This squash dish looks like spaghetti when cooked. Use a fork to shred baked squash and toss it with garlicky butter along with a bit of Parmesan cheese.

Submitted by Leslie Kay-Getzinger, MS RD
Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services Company

Image Credit

Thursday, October 16

SNACKTIME healthy eating during Halloween

Your children can still enjoy Halloween without splurging on mounds of chocolate and sugary snacks. With imagination and a bit of effort, creating spooky treats with your children can be fun and contribute nutritional value.  

Here are a few creative and creepy Halloween Treats that will bring laughter to your whole family. 

Spider Deviled Eggs-Make deviled eggs and fill as usual but decorate as spiders by using a black olive, black beet or cooked purple potato to create the "body" of the spider.  Use the same food to create the "legs" by slicing the olive, beet or potato into four tiny strips on each side.

Spider Web Cheese Pizza-Make individual pizzas from mini-pitas or English muffin halves. Spread tomato sauce on the bottom and slice cheese into strips to create a "web." Use a black olive to create the body and legs of a "spider."

Severed Hot Dog fingers-Cut flour tortillas into strips and wrap a mini-hot dog (cocktail) in each. Dab the top with ketchup and place a slivered almond on top to create the finger nail. Serve with a bowl of red ketchup.

Festive Edible Pumpkin-Carefully peel a small orange and top with a celery stem to make it look just like a pumpkin.

Halloween Stuffed Peppers-Stuff orange peppers and bake as usual but cut out the eyes, nose and mouth to look like a pumpkin. 

Eyeball Platter #1-Spread peanut, almond, hazelnut spread or soy butter on a round cracker. Top with a slice of banana for the "eye" and place a raisin for the "pupil" in the center. Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon to create a "bloodshot" effect.

Eyeball Platter #2-Slice hard boiled eggs with an egg slicer and place on round or oval crackers. Top with a piece of an olive for the "eye ball" and sprinkle with paprika for the "bloodshot" look.

Gelatin Jiggles-Use pre-formed Halloween molds and fill with colored gelatin.

Cookie Cutter Sandwiches-Use Halloween cookie cutter shapes to transform regular sandwiches into seasonal surprises.

Decorating food as a fun, seasonal treat is a creative way to get kids to sample a new food. Try some of these homemade Halloween recipes for your children or create your own!

Submitted by Leslie Kay-Getzinger, MS RD
Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services Company

Image from Kid's Halloween