School will soon be out, and summer vacation will be in full swing. When children are in school, there is more regularity with meals, snacks and bedtime schedules. While summer should be more relaxing and fun, a healthy eating regimen should still be in place.
The following suggestions are ways to keep your children healthy and full of nutrition over the summer months.
• Create a list of snack items appropriate for your children to choose from. This allows children some freedom in making their own snack choices, while giving you peace of mind, in knowing that all of the options are healthy ones.
• Keep plenty of fresh fruit and cut-up vegetables available for children to snack on. Keeping them visible in the refrigerator and on the counter will make them more appealing.
• Set limits on where kids can snack. For example, allowing snacks to only be eaten at the kitchen table or breakfast counter will prevent kids from snacking anytime and anywhere. It will also help to keep your house tidy during the crazy summer months.
• Discuss with your children the purpose of eating a snack. A snack is to provide nutrition, satisfy hunger and keep the stomach content until the next meal is served. A snack is not something to eat “because I am bored or watching television.”
• Emphasize drinking water throughout the day. Most children (and adults) are dehydrated. Water is our most important nutrient. Stay hydrated this summer!
Makes 12 regular muffins or 24 mini muffins
2½ cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup plain low fat greek yogurt
½ cup honey
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed or chia seed
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tins with nonstick spray, or use silicone or foil liners. Place oats in a food processor and pulse for 10 seconds. Add remaining ingredients in the food processor and process until everything is mixed together and smooth. At this point, you can add extra ingredients such as dark chocolate chips, walnuts, peanut butter, blueberries, etc. You can also add high-protein granola as a topping before baking.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes; or until inserted toothpick is clean.
These muffins are healthy, easy and can be frozen for quick breakfasts and snacks at a later time.
Nutrition information per muffin: 126 calories, 2.2 g fat, 13 mg sodium, 24 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 11.9 g sugar, 3.4 g protein.
Quick, easy snack ideas
• Peanut butter – on crackers, whole wheat bread, mini waffles or celery
• 2% cheese or string cheese – add pretzel sticks
• Yogurt – mix in fruit or granola
• Veggies and dip
• Hardboiled eggs
• Fruit kabobs with grapes, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, watermelon
• Pistachios, peanuts and other nuts
• Frozen grapes
• Cereal – dry or with milk
• Sugar-free pudding – add Teddy Grahams
• Whole wheat wrap with shredded cheese and salsa
• Leftover grilled chicken strips dipped in ranch dressing
• Lean deli ham or turkey rolled up around string cheese
Kidz Café resumes
Starting today, the Kidz Café will again be providing free and healthy lunches for the polo community beginning every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Faith United Methodist Church in Polo, 702 E. Dixon St. Van pickup is available at the Polo Swimming Pool, 303 E. Webster St., Polo Public Library, 302 W. Mason St., and Ogle County Housing Authority, 203 S. 3rd St. Visit facebook.com/polokidzcafe for more information.