Happy kids preparing a meal in the kitchen

This week’s WOWS Newsletter discusses the benefits of implementing a “taste and learn” activity and provides guidance for creating one. In that spirit, following is an easy-to-implement nutrition education activity designed to encourage healthy holiday choices.

  1. Talk about Snack Attack, i.e., many snack choices are filled with “empty calories.” In other words, some snacks provide a majority of calories from sugar or fat with few nutrients or health benefits. Examples: cakes, cookies, pies and pastries, doughnuts, fries, jams, syrups, jelly, sweetened fruit drinks, chips, salted snacks, candy, and soda provide lots of sugar or fat but have no or minimal vitamins, minerals, protein or fiber!
  2. Suggest kids create some healthier snack alternatives, i.e., choices we can enjoy. Because the holidays are approaching, include some with a holiday twist.
  3. There are many ways we can begin to think about choices; however, let’s begin by getting creative with ways we might make a hearty snack out of an English muffin. Set up the activity by listing potential ingredients:
    • Start with:
      • A whole grain English muffin or bagel
    • Choose a spread:
      • Peanut butter (or other nut butter)
      • Low fat cream cheese
      • Spaghetti sauce
    • Be creative with choosing a healthy topping mix such as:
      • Grated carrots and dried fruit
      • Chopped apples (sprinkled with cinnamon and softened in the microwave) and raisins
      • Chopped kiwis, strawberries and drained crushed pineapple
      • Chopped bananas and a sprinkle (1 tsp.) of mini chocolate chips
      • Sliced peaches and blueberries
      • Mozzarella cheese and shredded ham
      • Mozzarella cheese, chopped green pepper and tomatoes
      • Thinly sliced cucumbers and shredded ham (toss ham with small amount of low fat dressing)
      • Sliced hardboiled egg and shredded low fat cheese
  4. Create a list of the ideas generated and encourage kids try them with the help of their family.
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Homemade yogurt ice popsicles with fresh kiwi

Developing healthy eating and physical activity habits that last a lifetime does not require that a parent or teacher become a “monitor.” In fact, doing the opposite creates the most success. With activities like the summer journaling that is discussed in the May 10th WOWS Newsletter, kids can have so much fun they will not think about all they are learning.

  • Try new healthy snack recipes. Suggest they write the recipe in their journal. After tasting the recipe, have them rate with an image of their choosing, such as 5 stars (or apples) for the best. If the recipe doesn’t make the 5 star rating, talk about what they liked or didn’t like about it.
  • Have kids create their own recipe. Have them write measures and directions for preparing the recipe. Suggest ingredients; fruits are always a healthy bet. Other suggested ingredients to accompany the fruits might include low fat pudding (or yogurt), fat free cream cheese, dry cereal and a graham cracker.
  • Come up with active play ideas to keep them moving. Calculate the number of minutes they will add to the day – week – and month.
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