by Sarah Muntel, RD

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It’s summertime! Kids are home from school and looking for things to do. This can be a great time to get active with your kids, try some new healthy foods and have fun! Get Kids Involved in Nutrition.

During the summer, things slow down a bit. This is a great time to get kids involved in cooking, shopping and learning about food.

Summertime Foods

Fresh fruit is in season during the summer. Fruits are sweet and packed with NUTRITION. They can be part of a meal, a sweet treat for after meal for dessert or a cool refreshing snack. Strawberries, watermelon, BLUEBERRIES and more are all great options!

Ways to add fruit to your diet:

  • Fruit Kabobs: Alternate different pieces of fresh fruit on a kabob stick for a colorful treat!
  • Yogurt Parfaits: Top low-fat yogurt with berries, bananas or apples for a great mix of protein, CALCIUM and VITAMINS!
  • Fruit Smoothies: Skip the ice cream. Instead try a fruit smoothie! With your parent’s supervision, in a blender, add milk, yogurt, a handful of fruit and a few ice cubes for a treat!
  • Fruit Salsa: Have your children help dice and chop various types of fruit and mix with a little Splenda. Serve on low-fat graham crackers.

Veggies are full of nutrients and great for a summer treat!

Fun ways to add in veggies:

  • Try some dip: Hummus or low-fat dip makes veggies better! Always serve vegetables with a fun dip!
  • Mix vegetables in: Add vegetables in spaghetti sauce, in a sandwich or a casserole.
  • Marinate them: Marinate veggies in light Italian dressing for great flavor.

Stay HYDRATED this summer. It’s hot, so don’t forget to drink. Water is the best choice for sure. Aim for 64 ounces of fluid each day. Kids get thirsty in the summer and tend to grab juice boxes, sugared drinks and soda. Sugar-free beverages like Crystal Light and other sugar-free drinks are the better choice. Sometimes kids like water more when they drink it from a fun cup or with a new straw! Give it a try.

If you want to get creative, try these:

  • Raspberry Lemonade: Make a pitcher of sugar-free lemonade (any kind) and add some color and flavor with flavored ice cubes! Pour sugar free raspberry drink in an ice cube container and freeze. As the ice melts, the raspberry flavor comes out for a tasty treat!
  • Avocado Smoothie: Here’s a great nutrition packed smoothie! Blend 1 avocado, 1 cup milk, 1 cup ice cubes, 2 tablespoons Splenda, and ½ tsp vanilla.

Stock your kitchen with healthy SNACKS for the summer. As kids play hard, they get hungry. It’s easy to grab a handful of chips, so make sure you have other options on hand.

  • Mini Rice Cakes Snack: Top mini apple cinnamon rice cakes with peanut or almond butter and a banana.
  • Cheesy Popcorn: Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on air popped popcorn.
  • Cereal Trail Mix: Mix a variety of cereal with nuts and dried fruit for a tasty nutritious snack.
  • Strawberry Delight: Top low-fat graham crackers with reduced-fat cream cheese and add fresh strawberries (or any fruit).

Shop for New FRUITS and VEGGIES.
Go to the grocery store or local farmer’s market and find some new foods. Let everyone pick one food they haven’t tried. Try eggplant, MANGO or squash. Kids will be surprised at what they like!

Play the ABC Game.
Each day, choose a food from the alphabet. Here are the rules: The parents pick the food and the kids have to try two bites:

  • A = Asparagus,
  • B = Bok Choy,
  • C = Cantaloupe, etc.

Keep track of the new foods kids like and add them to recipes.

Visit the Local Library.
Find cookbooks and pick out new recipes to try. Get the kids involved in shopping, cooking, serving and cleaning up! Each week someone picks a new recipe to try.

Do Some Research.
Find out what calcium does for your body and why you should eat low-fat foods. Look online or find a great book about different topics.
As summer rolls in, sometimes kids forget to stay moving. Motivate your kids to stay ACTIVE this summer by finding fun activities to do. Limit time in front of the Television and video games.

Get Moving

  • Get in the water: Join a pool or get out the sprinkler. This is a great way to stay cool and be active as well.
  • Try new sports: Buy a soccer ball, basketball or volleyball. It’s fun to try a new sport and you can get some great activity!
  • Go on a hike: Explore parks in your area. Give your kids a list of things to find on your hike to make it fun!

Play a Game

  • Hopscotch, tag and “Duck, Duck Goose” are fun ways to add activity without even noticing it!
  • Have a bike race or a scooter race.
  • Make an obstacle course. Hula hoops, jump ropes and pogo sticks can make a fun obstacle course.

Just Have Fun Summer is a great time to get moving, have fun with your FAMILY and enjoy the weather. Don’t worry about changing everything at once. Just a few changes to your family’s daily routine can make a big difference in everyone’s HEALTH. Have fun!


About the Author:
Sarah Muntel, RD, is a registered dietitian with IU Health Bariatric & Medical Weight-loss. She has worked in bariatrics for the past 12 years and enjoys helping people get to a healthy weight so they can improve their health, feel better about themselves and become more active.