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Top 10 Healthy Summer Foods for Children

Can kids eat healthfully, yet still enjoy their favorite summer foods?

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3. Top Summer Food: Ice Cream 

It's hard to resist ice cream. But premium ice creams have about 15 grams or more fat per 1/2 cup serving.

  • Sweet news here: Many well-known brands -- Dreyers/Edy's, Breyers, and Haagen-Dazs -- are making super-creamy "light" and "slow-churned" ice creams that cut lots of fat and calories. Read labels carefully. Plain flavors like chocolate and vanilla have about 100 calories per half-cup, while other flavors are 120 to 130 calories -- even 250 calories per serving.
  • Another option: "If kids get a Fudgsicle or Popsicle, they'll be dodging lots of fat and sugar," Krieger says. In fact, Fudgsicles now come in fat-free or low-fat, no sugar added versions. Popsicles are fat-free, even sugar-free if you want. And both have built-in portion control, she adds.
  • Make your own frozen fruit pops. Buy molds and sticks at a crafts store. Pour in your favorite fruit juice (with fruit chunks, if you want), and freeze. It's an easy yummy treat for a hot summer day.

4. Top Summer Food: Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt sounds healthier than ice cream -- or maybe not. "You have to read food labels to see," says Krieger. "Some have more sugar than low-fat ice cream. Others are the equivalent of sherbet. It can be tricky."

With desserts, you don't want to go for empty calories -- and that's where frozen yogurt fits in, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, a New York City dietitian and also an ADA spokeswoman. "Go for foods that are valuable and taste good at the same time."

  • How about frozen yogurt pie? Crunch up graham crackers (or buy a graham cracker pie shell), spoon frozen yogurt into it, top with fresh strawberries or raspberries, then freeze.
  • Fruit and yogurt parfait, topped with granola, is another easy dessert. Or, spoon frozen yogurt between two low-fat cookies. You could also make a smoothie, using fresh blueberries, grapes, and strawberries.

5. Top Summer Food: Waffles & Pancakes

This classic breakfast food is fun for kids. It's made easier with frozen, whole grain, reduced-fat products. The toppings boost the nutrition: natural applesauce, blueberries, sliced banana and strawberries, and a little light syrup, Zied suggests.

  • Another classic: Scrambled eggs mixed with low-fat shredded cheddar, tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms (or whatever veggies your kids like).
  • Scrambled-eggs-in-a-cup: Take a slice of whole wheat bread, break it up into a cup, top with the cooked egg mixture. You're good to go!

6. Top Summer Food: Marshmallows

What's cool about marshmallows? "Even kids with food allergies can eat them," Krieger says. "Give one to a child who can't eat a chocolate chip cookie and you're sure to get a smile."

  • Four large marshmallows have 90 calories -- mostly sugar. To give 'em a nutrition boost, try skewering marshmallows with strawberries and other fruit.   
  • Of course, toasted marshmallows and S'mores are American standards. If your kids haven't discovered these classic treats, it's time! Just toast a marshmallow over a grill or campfire, place it over a chunk of chocolate. Put it between two graham crackers (a good source of whole grains).

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