Savvy Summer Strategies For Healthy Kids

IN THE KITCHEN

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For kids, the annual exodus from school means the fun begins. But parents worry that a relaxed schedule can mean regular meals and healthy eating go the way of the textbooks during summer months.

Granted, many kids will be physically active, which is a happy, healthy benefit of school break. But escape from the usual routine can also translate into lazy eating habits -- and for many kids, too much free time is spent in sedentary activities such as computer games or watching TV.

Parents can help kids stay active and eat healthfully this summer with these tips from the American Heart Association:

  • Move it! Encourage physical activities that kids really enjoy. If they like it, they'll stick with it.
  • Plan times for the whole family to take a walk, go to a farmers' market, ride bikes, swim, garden (kids love to play in the dirt and watch things grow) or just play outdoors.
  • Be the role model. Your healthy, active behavior says, "Do as I do!" If you park yourself in front of the TV and eat unhealthy snacks, your kids may want to do the same.
  • Set specific goals and limits that kids can understand and work toward, like completing one hour of physical activity per day, or cutting back on desserts (other than fruit) to two per week.
  • Make reading food labels a family game. Everyone can get involved in learning about what's good for their health. This is a habit that can help change behavior for a lifetime.

Shop smart. Live well. Look for the heart-check mark

This simple mark from the American Heart Association for healthy people over age 2 takes the guesswork out of heart-healthy shopping. Products bearing the heart-check mark are certified by the American Heart Association to be low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and/or high in whole grains and fiber, as well as being low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

  • Visit heartcheckmark.org and use the free "My Grocery List" builder. Click on "My Grocery List" and check out hundreds of products certified by the American Heart Association. Products are organized by food manufacturer and by categories like breads, dairy case, frozen foods, fruits and vegetables, meats, snacks and more.

To learn more about reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, visit americanheart.org, or call 1-800-AHA-USA1 for a free copy of the "Shop Smart with Heart" brochure.

Fruit Parfaits

Serves four with a 1/2 cup fruit, 1/2 cup yogurt mixture, and 1 heaping tablespoon cornflake mixture per serving.

1/3 cup cornflakes

2 tablespoons sliced almonds

2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut

2 cups fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 medium mango, diced (or 1 cup blueberries or sliced strawberries)

1 (8-ounce) can pineapple tidbits packed in juice, drained

Put cornflakes in small plastic bag. Crush to make about 2 tablespoons coarse crumbs.

Heat medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Dry-roast almonds and coconut 1-1/2 minutes, or until beginning to brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Stir in cornflakes and set aside.

In medium bowl, stir together yogurt with sugar and vanilla extract (or use 2 cups fat-free, sugar-free or low-fat vanilla yogurt).

Add orange zest to yogurt mixture.

In another medium bowl, stir together mango and pineapple.

In each of 4 parfait or wine glasses, layer mixtures in following order: 1/4 cup yogurt mixture, 1/4 cup fruit mixture, 2 tablespoons yogurt mixture, 1/4 cup fruit mixture, 2 tablespoons yogurt mixture. Top each serving with 1 heaping tablespoon cornflake mixture.

This recipe is reprinted with permission from "Healthy Recipes Kids Love," Copyright © 2005 by the American Heart Association. Published by Publications International, Ltd. Available online at shopheart.org.

From Family Features

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