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Eating Healthy on the Go: Quick Foods Kids Will Love

Good Nutrition: A Family Affair continued...

The fast food frenzy isn’t exactly promoting higher levels of health. According to data from a recent USDA survey, the higher the intake of fast food, the less likely the teens were to meet recommendations for three nutrient-rich food groups: fruit, vegetables, and milk. The American Dietetic Association has expressed concern about the inadequate intake of foods rich in important nutrients in children, such as calcium, fiber, folate, and potassium, and concern about the excessive intake of dietary fat and saturated fat.

How can your family enjoy meals on the go while avoiding drive-through fare? Try these quick and nutritious options when you’re in a hurry instead:

5 Quick Snacks on the Go

  • For older children, raw veggies (such as baby carrots, cauliflower or broccoli florets, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, jicama sticks) are fun to eat and travel well in a plastic bowl or bag.
  • A colorful fruit salad is only a few chops away. Fruits just sitting in the fruit bowl or hiding in the crisper can be quickly cut up into bite size pieces and tossed together in a plastic bowl or bag, but don’t forget the fork!
  • A crunchy green salad can be tossed together in a couple of minutes using bags of pre-washed romaine lettuce or spinach leaves and other foods you might have ready to go in your refrigerator and pantry. Toss in cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, cheese cubes, sliced cucumber, dried fruit, or sunflower seeds for color and variety. Just add your salad ingredients to a plastic bowl with a lid, drizzle your desired dressing over the top, pop on the lid, and shake. It can be eaten in the car or on the sidelines at soccer games, and when your child is finished, just pop the lid on until it returns to your kitchen sink.
  • Peanut butter makes snacking fun when it is paired with apples, bananas, or celery or spread on a whole-wheat bagel or toasted whole-wheat English muffin.
  • Turn yogurt into frozen yogurt by popping a couple cups or tubes of yogurt into the freezer for easy grabbing.

 

5 Quick Meals on the Go

  • Five minutes is all you need for your child to make a bagel pizza using whole-wheat bagels cut in half, bottled pizza sauce, BBQ sauce or pesto, shredded reduced-fat cheese, and assorted toppings. Set the bagel half on a piece of foil, let your children assemble their personal pizza, and pop it into the toaster for a couple minutes.
  • Make a bean burrito by spreading canned fat-free or vegetarian refried beans over a whole-grain flour tortilla and top with shredded cheese and salsa. Fold it up; place it on a paper towel or microwave-safe plate, and microwave for a quick minute.
  • Make a sandwich wrap by spreading mustard, pesto, or light ranch sauce on a whole-grain flour tortilla. Layer with lean, thinly sliced meat such as turkey breast, roast beef, or ham, then slices of cheese and thinly sliced vegetables (such as cucumbers, spinach leaves, or tomatoes). Roll the tortilla up, wrap it in a piece of foil or a paper towel, and it’s perfectly portable.
  • A green salad can become a meal by adding roasted or grilled chicken or steak, beans or tofu, or cooked fish or shellfish.
  • Microwave nachos can be assembled on a microwave-safe dish or bowl by topping a bed of lower-fat whole-grain tortilla chips with canned fat-free or vegetarian refried beans, shredded leftover chicken or lean grilled beef (if desired), shredded reduced-fat cheese, chopped tomatoes, and/or green onions. Microwave for one minute, then add salsa and fat-free or light sour cream as desired.

 

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