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5 ways to get your kids involved at mealtime

2 Little Girls Enjoying Mealtime

Making Mealtime A Fun Time For KIds

(BPT) – When kids are exposed to delicious meals prepared with fresh ingredients, they are more likely to make healthier choices away from home.

Registered Dietitian Emily Burson and Executive Chef Brandon Neumen, founders of School Nutrition Plus (SNP), are inspiring families to cook together. The dietitian and chef duo share their approach to kids’ nutrition in their new cookbook, “A Chef Walks Into a Cafeteria … Healthy Family Recipes from California’s Premiere School Food Company.”

They offer the following tips to put a healthy meal on the table the whole family will love – and how to get kids involved in the process!
 
1. Start slow
Shifting your family’s mealtime to 100 percent scratch-cooked meals doesn’t need to happen overnight. “Start by introducing one new recipe each week to your family,” says Burson. “Here’s the payoff: Once you’ve tried it and your kids give your dish the thumbs up, you’ll want to cook this way more often.”
 
2. Be a healthy role model

Mealtime is an opportunity to educate and lead by example – whether it’s in the school cafeteria or at the dinner table.
 
3. Involve kids
“The more kids are involved with how and what they eat, the more likely they are to try new, fresh foods,” says Burson. She recommends bringing your kids shopping to select new produce and having them roll up their sleeves and assist in the kitchen.
 
4. Mix the familiar with the unfamiliar at mealtime
As an example, pair arugula with blackberries, sliced cucumbers and fresh dill for an “ABCD” salad. “The sweetness of the berries is a great complement to peppery arugula and fresh cucumber. And the dill brightens the whole combo,” says Neumen.
 
5. Make it fun
The more interactive and hands-on kids can be with their food, the better. Add healthy dip options to encourage them to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Here’s one dip recipe courtesy of School Nutrition Plus:
 
 

Black Bean Hummus with Green Pepper Triangles

 
Makes 4 servings, gluten-free
 
Ingredients:
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1 large green bell pepper, sliced in triangles

Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients, except green bell pepper and cilantro, in food processor and blend until smooth.

2. Transfer dip to a small bowl. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Dip bell pepper triangles into hummus.

Prep options: Raid the produce section to make this dip fun. Red bell peppers, as well as carrots and cucumbers, also make good dippers for this hummus.

These five simple tips will help you improve the nutritional quality of your family’s foods, create tasty meals everyone will enjoy, and develop healthy eating habits for life.


 
 

More Great Mealtime Ideas:

Recipes to make your school year lunches fast and delicious

(BPT) – The school year is underway once again and for you the race is on. If you’ve been down this road before, then you know these nine months feel like a full-blown sprint where you are constantly running from one obligation to the next. And that doesn’t leave a lot of room to prepare meals and eat good-for-you foods, does it?

If all of this sounds familiar, you’ll be relieved to know that it is possible to create a delicious lunch for yourself and your children in no time flat during the school year. Included below are recipes for a delightful roasted turkey kale salad sandwich to make the most of your next lunch break and a pizza sandwich with fresh mozzarella your kids are sure to love — and will make them the envy of the school lunchroom.
Roasted Turkey Kale Sandwich, A Mealtime Favorite For Kids

 

Roasted Turkey Kale Salad Sandwich

Ingredients:

1 Arnold Multigrain Sandwich Thins Roll

1/3 cup kale, chopped

1 lemon wedge

1 tablespoon Caesar dressing

1 tablespoon Parmesan, shaved or grated

4 thin slices roasted turkey

Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Add chopped kale to a small bowl and squeeze lemon juice over it. Add a sprinkle of salt and mix kale mixture for 1 minute to soften.

2. Add Caesar dressing and Parmesan to bowl and toss until everything is evenly coated. Salt and pepper to taste.

3. Open Arnold’s Multigrain Sandwich Thins Roll and place the sliced turkey on the bottom followed by the dressed kale Caesar salad. Place the top on the sandwich and keep refrigerated until ready to eat.
Pizza Sandwich, Fun Mealtime For Kids

 

Caprese Pizza Sandwich

Ingredients:

1 Arnold Honey Wheat Sandwich Thins Roll

2 tablespoons pizza sauce

4 slices fresh mozzarella

8-10 pepperoni slices

5 basil leaves

Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Open Arnold Sandwich Thins Roll and smear the pizza sauce onto the bottom half.

2. Top with fresh mozzarella and add a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

3. Add pepperoni and basil and place the top on the sandwich. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.

Both of these recipes are easy and fun to make and they will have you rethinking what’s possible during your busy school year schedule. So, what are you waiting for? Start creating your own sandwich favorites today. For more great ideas, visit www.arnoldbread.com.
 
 

7 healthy, kid-approved lunchbox ideas:

Fun lunchbox meals that kids enjoy

(BPT) – Kids’ school days are packed with learning, laughing and lots of fun. To get the most out their time in class, it’s important their bodies and minds are properly fueled. Packing a healthy lunch is on of the easiest ways parents can support their child’s education during the day while they can’t be there. Healthy foods keep distracting hunger pangs at bay while providing important nutrients to support focus and learning.
 
Many traditional healthy foods aren’t necessarily kid-friendly, which leaves moms and dads wondering how to pack a wholesome lunch that will actually get eaten. Fortunately, a little creative thinking and a few simple lunchbox tricks can help you create tasty meals that will fuel your kids throughout the school day. Consider these seven smart ideas and be inspired to create your own kid-approved combinations.
 

Think outside the loaf: Sandwiches are a lunchbox staple, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to two pieces of bread. To add variety and boost nutrient intake, incorporate fun variations. For example, use whole-grain tortillas to create wraps, or, go one step further and cut up the rolls for bite-size “sushi” that makes it fun for lunching. Another idea: use whole-wheat waffles as the sandwich ends and fill with peanut butter and banana or cream cheese and apples.
 
colorful creations: Ever notice how everything associated with kids has tons of color? Children are attracted to vivid hues and you can use this to your advantage when you pack lunches. Put a rainbow in every lunch by packing colorful produce such as green cucumber, cherry tomatoes, purple plums, orange carrots and yellow peppers. You’ll keep things visually stimulating and the various colors of fresh foods mean they are getting a variety of vitamins and minerals.
 

Fruit snacks that kids enjoy

Fantastic freeze-dried fruit: Fresh fruit isn’t always an option and that’s when delicious Crispy Fruit freeze-dried snacks from Crispy Green can save the day. The perfect complement to any healthy lunch or the ideal lightweight portable snack, Crispy Fruit comes in many single-serving varieties to keep lunchboxes interesting, including banana, apple, pineapple and pear. You can feel good about giving your kids a snack that is 100 percent fruit, non-GMO and allergen-free with no additives or sugar added.
 
Breakfast for lunch: Is it backwards day? No, but you can get a little crazy by shaking things up when you pack breakfast foods for lunch. Kids will grin with joy as they open their pack to see their favorite whole grain cereal with a side of milk, or muffins with secret healthy ingredients like fruit or shredded veggies. You might even consider your child’s favorite breakfast sandwich or a yogurt parfait as a wholesome lunch option.
 
Slurp up soup: Cold lunch doesn’t necessarily need to be cold. Get a reusable insulated container and get ready to delight those kid’s taste buds with vitamin-rich soup. Whether you choose a hearty alphabet soup bought from the store or decide to make a batch at home, look for options packed with different vegetables and limited salt. Simply heat up in the morning and it will be ready and waiting come lunch time. Warm soup satisfies the stomach while warming the heart.
 
Dip and munch: If you have a hesitant kid who is known to snub their nose at fruits and veggies, consider making eating more fun by packing a side of dip. Children adore the act of dipping and it makes eating a fun, interactive activity. A little yogurt will encourage kids to gobble up fruits like orange wedges, apple slices or halved strawberries. Low-fat salad dressing or hummus is the perfect pairing for veggie straws including carrots, celery or sweet peppers.
 
Protein pick-me-up: Protein helps kids feel fuller for longer, getting them through those lengthy school days. It’s important to pack a protein source in lunch, but meats aren’t your only option. Eggs are high in protein, so try hard-boiled or scrambled and pack in an insulated container. Other kid-friendly foods high in protein include cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, beans and many nuts or nut butters.
 
You are what you eat, so it’s important to choose your children’s foods wisely. For more tips about packing wholesome lunches and living a healthy family lifestyle, visit www.produceforkids.com/poweryourlunchbox or smartlifebites.com.

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