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August is Kids Eat Right Month and if you have a picky eater in your house, which can be the case with many children, that can be quite a challenge for many parents.  For a lot of kids, the variety of colors and textures that come with healthy eating are viewed as taboo.  In many situations, children become accustomed to a very few food selections they are comfortable with, and if given foods outside of this circle they are likely to reject them without even giving them a chance.

 

The best way around this problem is to introduce a variety of healthy foods to your child at an early age.  Children who are familiar with an abundance of colors, textures and tastes are much more likely to try new things.  If you do have a child who hasn’t been exposed to a variety of foods and has become set in his ways, don’t fret–there are strategies to getting him to expand his tastes for more healthy foods.  In some cases, as children grow older, they naturally expand their tastes to include more fruit and vegetables.  You can, however, step up this process with some creativity.

 

One easy way to get your child eating a wider variety of healthy foods is by involving them in the kitchen.  When children are helping to prepare a meal, they are more likely to eat it.  Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has the Top 10 Ways To Get Kids Involved In Healthy Cooking & Shopping, which are great ideas to get you started.

 

Healthy recipes that are geared toward kids are really key to getting your child to eat better.  Fruits & Veggies–More Matters does a great job of making healthy eating fun for kids with these kid-friendly fruit and veggie recipes.  A few of my favorites are Banana in a Blanket, which is simply placing a banana on a whole wheat torilla.  Cover it with reduced-fat peanut butter, honey and nutty nugget cereal, then roll up.

 

 

banana in a blanket

 

Kids love pizza and kids love sweet fruit–put them together and you’ve got a treat they will be asking for over and over again!  Symphony of Fruit Pizza uses toasted english muffins as its base.  Strawberry cream cheese is spread on top and then strawberries, grapes and mandarin oranges are arranged on the cream cheese.  It’s a delicious way for your kids to get their fruit servings.

 

symphony of fruit pizza

 

Here is a terrific and simple idea I found on Pinterest.  Fresh fruit and vegetables are arranged in the shape of Sesame Street characters and dip is provided.  I love the one of Oscar the Grouch using broccoli flowerets and black olives for the mouth. Use some low-fat ranch dip for the veggies.

 

sesame characters

 

Finally, and this is the most important tip of all, in order to get your kids to eat healthy you must also display a good example.  Remember, your children will imitate you!  They are much more likely to eat their fruit and vegetables if they see you doing the same.  Family meals are a wonderful way to get your children into the habit of eating well and one that will last them a lifetime.

 

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It’s the time of year when young adults are getting ready to move into their college dorms for the upcoming fall semester.  For those of us who have gone through that initial experience of leaving home the first time, we’re familiar with the term the “freshman fifteen.”  It refers to the unforunate weight gain many college freshmen put on their first year from having a less-than-healthy diet.  Thankfully, with a little common sense and some smart nutrition choices, you can avoid this altogether.

 

Last year, the USDA developed a MyCampus section on their ChooseMyPlate website.  The section provides a variety of helpful information including tips for how to stay fit while on campus, how to select healthy options while eating in the dining hall, what kinds of healthy foods to pack in your dorm’s mini fridge (think low-fat dairy and lots of fruit and veggies!) and provides a recipe section of quick, easy meals to prepare.  A few of these recipes featured are provided by Fruits & Veggies–More Matters, who partners with the USDA to promote MyPlate and making half your plate fruit and vegetables.  I thought I’d select two that are ideal for college students to prepare as they require no cooking and can be made in minutes.

 

European Salad with Chicken is simple since it uses pre-cut salad greens and cooked chicken purchased at the grocery store.  Add sliced bell pepper and cherry tomatoes to your salad, plus a low-fat vinaigrette dressing and you’re finished!

 

European Salad

 

Late night snacks can be one of the biggest diet dangers of college life.  So, before you reach for the phone to order a pizza or devour a bag of chips, try this healthy option.  Celery Stuffed with Apricot Blue Cheese Spread tastes delicious, yet is still low in fat and is filled with dried fruit and nuts.

 

Celery

 

A few of my own tips from when I was young, on my own for the first time and living on a fixed budget, yet still wanting to eat healthfully are:

 
  • Defrosted mixed frozen veggies are a great option to add extra fiber and nutrition to noodle soups or eggs. Plus, they are very budget-friendly!
  • Limit the alcohol consumption–there is no nutritional value, yet lots of calories.
  • When grocery shopping look for in-season produce, they will be at lower prices and the height of flavor.
  • Canned beans make a great protein substitute for meat and at a fraction of the cost (think vegetarian chili!), they are also higher in fiber and no fat!
 

It is possible to leave home and not end up packing on the pounds–just think about what you’re eating before you eat it.  Not only will you save yourself from gaining the weight, you’ll have a lot more energy to do the things you enjoy.

 

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