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Here’s a fun fact–according to the USDA, each American eats 112 pounds of potatoes each year.  Now, that’s a lot of spuds!  Of course, it’s no wonder since potatoes are so delicious and versatile.  One thing many people don’t realize is how nutritious these tasty veggies are.  Potatoes are fat free, cholesterol free, sodium free, high in Vitamin C and a good source of potassium.  The key is how you prepare them–many times it’s the high fat/calorie toppings that give potatoes a bad rap.

 

Since September is National Potato Month, I decided to share some healthy ways to serve up one of America’s favorite vegetables. I know I have relied on taking a large potato and placing it in the microwave to “bake” it quickly for a filling meal.  Then top it with some low-fat toppings.  My personal favorites include cooked broccoli, low-fat shredded cheddar cheese and stewed tomatoes.  A more gourmet version is Fruits & Veggies More Matters recipe for Potato Skins with Buffalo Chicken.  This healthy plate has the flavor of buffalo chicken wings minus all the fat and calories.

 

potato skins

 

Potatoes can also make great main dish meals.  In addition, they can be used as substitutes for grains in some traditional dishes like this recipe for Quick and Healthy Gluten Free Potato Lasagna.  Layered Yukon Gold potatoes take the place of lasagna noodles in this dish, while turkey sausage and fat-free ricotta cheese reduces the calorie count.

 

US Potato Board

 
One of my personal favorite ways to enjoy potatoes is by roasting them.  I love this cooking method because it brings out the natural flavor of the potato and because you can enhance them with so many different herbs and spices.  Think rosemary and garlic or something like this recipe for Chipotle and Lime Roasted Potatoes.  This only takes 10 minutes of prep time and 45 minutes in the oven.  Fresh cilantro is added to the potatoes right before serving for added flavor.
 

roasted potatoes

 

Visit this great “Pototo Types” board courtesy of the US Potato Board and check out the different kinds of potatoes there are.  You’ll be surprised to see the vibrant hue of purple that are along the usual white and red-skinned potatoes.  And, be sure to add more of these healthy veggies to your meals in celebration this month!

 

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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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