Another school year is about to begin, and with it an onslaught of germs. Healthy eating is the #1 way to boost your child’s immunity and prevent illness, but according to a survey from the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, less than one-third of American children eat the suggested amount of fruits and vegetables each day.
It’s common for busy parents to stock up on pre-packaged snacks that are convenient without realizing that most snacks designed to entice kids are filled with artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and preservatives. Snacks and drinks like Gatorade, Doritos, Fruit Roll-Ups, are commonplace, rather than a once-in-awhile treat and can cause serious health problems.
A few cavities, obesity or the flu isn’t the worst of it. Diabetes, heart problems, kidney problems, cancers...many of the illnesses common in our society can be prevented if we learn to eat right and teach our children to eat what will help their bodies fight sickness and disease.
But how do we get our children to enjoy eating healthy, and how do we as parents prepare healthy foods when we’re in a hurry? Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring, yucky or complicated!
In this article, I’ll show you some fun and easy snack ideas combined with some simple meal ideas that will maximize your family’s health this school year and beyond. I’ll also give you some tips on how to help your child enjoy eating well!
Smoothies are a fun and delicious way to get a power-packed punch of fruits and vegetables in your children. My kids love smoothies, even when I put stuff they don’t normally like in them, such as kale or avocado!
Berry Smoothie Blend
Handful of salad greens
1 cup frozen berries
1 cup apple juice (or grape juice)
1 cup milk (or dairy alternative almond milk or coconut milk)
1 scoop of strawberry yogurt
Put all ingredients in blender and turn on until blended well. Serve with a straw for fun!
Secret Chocolate Smoothie
The secret here lies within! This smoothie, no matter what you put in it still tastes like chocolate! It’s amazing.
1 scoop of Juice Plus Complete shake mix
1 frozen banana
1 Tbsp. peanut butter (or another nut butter for protein)
2 cups of milk (or dairy substitute)
Mix all ingredients in blender until well blended, then serve and enjoy!
(You can even put these blends into ice pop molds to freeze for an after-school treat!)
2. Healthy dips for snacking on vegetables
Put out a tray of vegetables and serve with any of these healthy dips to help your child /acclimate to the taste of healthy raw vegetables. My kid’s favorite vegetables are Persian cucumbers (I’ve found at Kroger and Trader Joe’s), baby carrots, and baby sweet peppers.
Boursin soft cheese spread
Sour cream mixed with Italian seasoning mix
3. Fruit salad
If your kids are young, try putting on the Wiggle’s “Fruit Salad Yummy, Yummy” song while helping them to prepare their own fruit salad! Just plan to have an assortment of fruits cleaned, chopped, and ready to go!
4. On-the-go snack ideas
Organic cheese sticks
Ziploc bag of grapes, apple slices, or other fruit or vegetable
Healthy crackers such as these
Raisins or cranberries
Nuts (pistachios & almonds are great sources of magnesium!)
Healthy granola bars (we love the variety of healthy ones sold at Trader Joe’s or Earth Fare)
Simple & Healthy Meal Ideas
As parents we know that things are about to get busier with the school year quickly approaching! As a home school mom, I like to streamline meals by planning my meals a week in advance (so I don’t have to think about it on the day, it saves money, and my family doesn’t need to ask me what’s for dinner as my weekly meal plan is on the fridge). Below are some quick and easy meals I make on those extra-full days.
Salmon, Quinoa, and Broccoli (Approx. 15min cook time)
Salmon with quinoa (or Uncle Ben’s Minute Brown Rice) and broccoli is so quick and easy to cook - just put in the oven with some coconut oil at 350 for about 20 min. Quinoa is named a “super-grain” and is easy to prepare (just boil in pan for about 10 min). I bought a large bag of organic quinoa at Costco. My family typically pours olive oil on our steamed broccoli for flavor and added Omega 3 health benefits!
2. Healthy Tacos (Approx. 15 min cook time)
To have healthy tacos, be sure to check ingredients when buying your tortillas, shredded cheese and refried beans especially. Most are loaded with preservatives or other nasty ingredients. We buy organic soft-tortillas, ground beef, preservative-free taco seasoning, cheddar cheese (or an organic Mexican blend), fresh avocado, tomato, lettuce, beans, lime, sour cream and salsa. Just cook ground beef in a skillet and when cooked, pour in taco seasoning and stir. Then place all other ingredients on the table and let your family build their tacos!
3. BBQ chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetable/salad ( Approx 20 min cook time)
Fill a large pan with water and put on high heat. In the meantime, chop raw chicken into cubes (I use my kitchen scissors) and cook in a frying pan. While that’s cooking, put chopped potatoes into boiling water and boil for about 15min. Then drain to mash. When chicken is cooked, add BBQ sauce (we love Simple Truth’s organic BBQ sauce found at Kroger) and put on low temperature until ready to serve. We like to have corn on the cob and a salad with this meal.
Tips for Helping Your Child Enjoy Eating Healthy
Many parents struggle with children who are opposed to eating their leafy greens and other healthy foods. It can be frustrating but I encourage you to persevere. By offering your child healthy options consistently (and without giving them their unhealthy preference of food) over time they will develop a love for what’s good for them. One way to do this is to have an assortment of healthy options readily available. For example, a fruit basket or veggie tray that your kids have easy snacking access to.
Starting a garden with your children is a great way for them to enjoy the fruit of their labor (literally!). This is not the easiest method of eating healthy, but there are many benefits to your child learning to grow their own food, including instilling a love of eating raw fruits and vegetables. There is still time to plant certain vegetables such as lettuce, beets, beans and cucumbers. Or if you’d like to grow year-round, check out the Tower Garden!
Sandy Robinson with LEANWell has a catchy way to teach kids the difference between a food that is healthy and unhealthy so that they can start to understand for themselves what food choices to make called the “Traffic Light Eating” system. We have tried it with our boys, and they really enjoy it! By learning to take responsibility for their health, kids get a sense of satisfaction and they’ll begin to enjoy eating well.
Another way to help your child get their recommended intake of fruits and vegetables daily is by taking Juice Plus+. A children’s health study found that the majority of kids who take Juice Plus+ eat more fruits and vegetables and drink more water on average every day. Juice Plus+ contains whole food based nutrition from up to 30 different fruits, vegetables, and grains in a tasty, soft chewable form or capsule. (Find out how you can get your child’s Juice Plus+ for free for up to 4 years!)
Start the school year off right by giving your kids power-packed healthy snacks and meals, and enabling them to choose a healthy lifestyle that will go with them into adulthood.
What healthy option do you plan to put into place today? I’d love to hear about it!
Kirsten McTernan leads an active lifestyle chasing after her 4 boys and exploring nature with her adventurous husband wherever life takes them. They currently live in Madison, AL. Kirsten’s Author of the book, “Homeschooling: You CAN Do It!” and Health Representative for the Juice Plus company. She loves encouraging moms in healthy living, the christian faith, and getting started with homeschooling. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @kmcternanwrites.