By Sarah Smith, Accredited Practising Dietitian
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When we were little, the summer holidays were spent outdoors. We’d hang with the neighbours’ kids all day and pop home for food only when called in by one of the sets of parents or the mozzie biting got too bad as light faded.
Other kids I knew took the opportunity for unlimited time on the Atari or Sega or Commodor 64 (flash back for anyone?!).
Then there were the kids who grabbed their skateboards or cricket bats and headed out for the day.
The impact on eating habits over summer was the same – less planning and structure around eating than school days with a packed lunch box.
This style of eating is fine, and in fact, allowing food to be flexible to allow for other summer priorities is great. But it can significantly affect the quality of food eaten. For example, as I write this I’m heading camping. My kids have ordered a kids meal for breakfast at a café and eaten just the biscuit and strawberry milk sections. I’ve wrapped up the toastie in a napkin in the hope we’ll get some value eating it later. However, the free cookie from last night’s motel is at forefront of the kid’s minds. So we are a solid chance for this dietitian’s kids to be eating biscuits for brekky and lunch.
If you’re finding the summer eating habits of your kids is bothering you, I’ve come up with a few ideas to help you (and me) out.
If you want any food to have a magical magnetism for kids, then freeze it. So think of the fruits, dairy or veg your kid is missing these holidays and try freezing it. Here are some ideas:
- Slice up fruit of different colours and pop it onto skewers (or paddle pop sticks for younger kids). Freeze for a couple of hours then enjoy. Type frozen fruit sticks into pinterest and you’ll see everyone’s amazing ideas.
- Frozen raspberries. Buy already done. Easy.
- Make ‘yoghurt bark’. Spread 2 cups of yoghurt over a tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with chopped fruit. Freeze for at least 2 hours. When frozen, break up into pieces and enjoy. Again for inspiration check pinterest or google.
- Watermelon slushie. Simply cut your fresh watermelon into cubes and freeze them. When frozen, put the cubes into your blender then blitz until a slushie texture. Pour into a glass and watch them enjoy.
- Homemade icy poles. You can use specially-made icy pole moulds or really any small Tupperware container you already have. Dice up some fruit and put it in your icy pole Tupperware. Next, fill it with yoghurt. Freeze until set.
- Homemade icypoles again but this time make up a smoothie and put this into the icy pole Tupperware. This will allow you to get in some vegetables like spinach, beetroot or carrot and different fruit like avocado. Here are the ingredients for one at kidsactivitiesblog.com
1 diced mango, 2 large (peeled) oranges, 1 cup grated carrot, 1 banana and 1 cup apple juice. These ingredients are blended then frozen.
Or try mixing the following:
Baby spinach, avocado, coconut milk or fresh milk and honey.
- Quarter some oranges and freeze.
- Freeze grapes. Easy.
- Frozen yoghurt pouch.
Another way to draw kids to healthy food is to give them the opportunity to be creative with it. Try setting out a glass or jar with a wide top and a spoon. Then provide different options for your kids to layer their own creation. Options ideas are muesli, yoghurt, diced fresh fruit, granola, seeds, frozen raspberries or grapes, oats, nuts. For a specific recipe, idea google ‘healthy breakfast parfait’ or check out a great recipe idea at https://wellnourished.com.au/breakfast-parfait/
This is the time where school restriction on nuts doesn’t apply. If you are home, take advantage of adding peanut butter to snacks. Try peanut butter spread on any summer fruit. Yes, it sounds unusual but very popular. Alternatively, peanut butter on wholegrain crackers will keep kids energised.
Bento Box It
On a plane, most adults will groan about the food provided. But ask a kid and they love the set up of plane meals. They hold all the responsibility for how they eat from their little compartments of their meal. Try this when setting up eating over a summer’s day. Make the containers early in the day then put in a cooler bag for your child to feast on over the day. If you do your compartments in advance like this you might find you are happier with your food choices than having to think of something spur of the moment when the kids come in hungry.
Compartment ideas would be to include:
- Chopped vegetables such as cooling cucumber or refreshing capsicum.
- Cubes of cheese or tub of yoghurt (try it frozen)
- Fruit such as frozen orange segments or frozen grapes
- Wholegrain crackers or cooked and cooled penne pasta or pita bread cut into triangles
- Hommus or tzatziki dip
- Popcorn or Mini Wheats
I hope that helps you enjoy the fruits of summer.
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