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Dear old Golden Rule days: Resolve to make this school year a healthier one

 

The countdown is on for the first day of school. It’s easier than you may think to get creative with kids’ lunches and ramp up the nutrition in their day.

The countdown is on for the first day of school. It’s easier than you may think to get creative with kids’ lunches and ramp up the nutrition in their day. Photo by: kitchenfunwithmy3sons.blogspot.com

 

Launch Photo Gallery

 

These filling peanut butter-banana spirals are made with low-fat ingredients.

These filling peanut butter-banana spirals are made with low-fat ingredients.
Photo by: cookinglight.com

 

Apple wedges dipped in semi-sweet chocolate and granola make a tempting after-school snack.

Apple wedges dipped in semi-sweet chocolate and granola make a tempting after-school snack.
Photo by: cookinglight.com

 

A frozen strawberry granita is a refreshing after-school snack, or a dessert for dinner.

A frozen strawberry granita is a refreshing after-school snack, or a dessert for dinner.
Photo by: cookinglight.com

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

For baby boomers, the month of August represented a whole third of summer vacation. Today, the advent of August means school bells. Golden Triangle students return to classrooms next Wednesday and Thursday in their respective counties. Transitions are ahead, including the one from mom's kitchen to the school cafeteria. Parents concerned about nutritional balance are more or less in control of what their elementary-age children consume while at home, but what about when they're out of sight for most of the day?  

 

We are all well aware that school systems nationwide, faced with rising childhood obesity and diabetes statistics, have increased the amounts of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains they offer students. But we also know putting healthier foods on the table by no means ensures kids will eat them.  

 

So, for those days mom wants to pack a special lunch she knows her children will enjoy, or greet the kids with an after-school snack with a healthy twist, we gathered up a few suggestions.  

 

Be a lunch box hero with your own version of the meal pictured at the top of our cover page. The clever idea comes from Jill Mills and her "Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons" blog.  

 

The "notebook paper" sandwich (choose your child's favorite filling) begins with removing the crust on two slices of whole wheat white bread. Thin strips cut from a blueberry and strawberry fruit roll-up make the lines on the bread (paper).  

 

The edible pencil is nothing more than a cheese stick, with a Bugle chip on top. Mills cuts the tip of a raisin to form the pencil lead. A few square pieces from a turkey slice stacked at the bottom form the pencil's eraser. For the larger red eraser, Mills heated two strawberry Starburst candies in the microwave for eight seconds, then shaped them to suit. Kids will have fun spelling a few words with the Cheez-It Scrabble crackers. Slice a red apple in half and cut out an "A+" from the peel (a small paring knife will do). You'll want to add a little bit of lemon juice to prevent browning. Really, it's easier than you may think to get creative.  

 

 

 

Remember these 

 

Starting off the school year on a healthy note isn't difficult, says dietitian Julie Upton at news.health.com.  

 

"Always include a serving of whole grain to maintain focus and concentration," she recommends. Options include whole-grain bread, pasta, English muffins and tortillas. For staying power, add a protein, like lean deli meats, peanut butter, 1 ounce of nuts, 1/4 cup hummus or tuna.  

 

Pack at least one serving of fruits or vegetables for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants -- fruit kebabs, fruit cups packed in their own juice, raw veggies with dip or 4- to 6-ounce 100-percent juice boxes. 

 

For bone-building minerals and protein, add a nonfat or low-fat dairy yogurt, milk or cheese. If you want to include a dessert, choose a treat that is no more than 100-130 calories. Options are cereal bars, whole-grain energy bars or whole-wheat fig bars. Dark chocolate-covered dried fruit is a better option than a milk chocolate candy bar, Upton says. 

 

Keep the pantry and fridge filled with savvy snacks, foods that add positive nutrition, not negative elements. Replace high-calorie potato chips, candy and sugary drinks with fruit cups and 100 percent fruit juice, graham crackers with nut butter, trail mix made with pistachios, seeds, pretzels or cereal, whole wheat crackers or air-popped popcorn. And you can never go wrong with the standby apple-a-day. 

 

Rome wasn't built in a day, and palates aren't changed overnight. But establishing better behaviors early in life is the most powerful lesson plan for an A+ in living longer and healthier. 

 

 

 

PEANUT BUTTER-BANANA SPIRALS 

 

 

 

1/2 cup reduced-fat peanut butter 

 

1/3 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt 

 

1 tablespoon orange juice  

 

2 ripe bananas, sliced 

 

4 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas 

 

2 tablespoons honey-crunch wheat germ 

 

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

 

 

 

  • Combine peanut butter and yogurt, stirring until smooth. Drizzle juice over bananas; toss gently to coat. 

     

  • Spread about 3 tablespoons peanut butter mixture over each tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Arrange about 1/3 cup banana slices in a single layer over peanut butter mixture.  

     

  • Combine wheat germ and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over banana slices. Roll up. Slice each roll into 6 pieces. 

     

    (Source: Cooking Light)  

     

     

     

    CHOCOLATE-GRANOLA APPLE WEDGES  

     

     

     

    2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped 

     

    1/3 cup low-fat granola without raisins 

     

    1 large Braeburn apple, cut into 16 wedges 

     

     

     

  • Place chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high for 1 minute, stirring every 15 seconds, or until chocolate melts. 

     

  • Place granola in a shallow dish. Dip apple wedges, skin side up, in chocolate; allow excess chocolate to drip back into bowl. Dredge wedges in granola. Place wedges, chocolate side up, on a large plate. Refrigerate 5 minutes or until set. 

     

    (Source: Ivy Manning, Cooking Light) 

     

     

     

    STRAWBERRY GRANITA 

     

     

     

    1/2 cup sugar 

     

    1/2 cup warm water  

     

    3 cups sliced strawberries  

     

    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

     

     

     

  • Combine the sugar and water in a blender; process until sugar dissolves. Add strawberries and juice; process until smooth. Pour mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish. Cover and freeze 3 hours; stir well. Cover and freeze 5 hours or overnight. 

     

  • Remove mixture from freezer; let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Scrape entire mixture with a fork until fluffy. 

     

    (Source: Sandra Granseth, Cooking Light)

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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