Around here, public school starts up on August 17, so back to school time is officially here!
I know lots of parents who approach the back-to-school season a lot like New Year’s resolution season: I will be more organized this year. We will eat healthier this year. I will make it to every single PTA meeting… and so on.
Well, one of those resolutions can be pretty easy to keep. (Sorry, I can’t help you with PTA meetings.) It can be easy to ease your kids into a happier, healthier eating routine for the school year. Try some of these tips, inspired by our friends at Whole Foods:
- Lighten up on refined sugar – Satisfy a sweet tooth with fresh or dried fruit. Try crispy apples and sweet pears from Colorado’s Western Slope. These fruits are in season and oh-so-tasty this time of year.
- Make healthier versions of your favorite treats – Try some of these healthier baked goods for lunch box and after-school goodies:
- Low-Sugar Carrot Cupcakes
- Banana Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (GF, vegan)
- Healthier Rice Krispie Treats (GF, allergy-friendly)
- Low-Fat Chocolate Cookies (egg-free)
- Low-Sugar Apple Pumpkin Muffins
- Paleo Banana Muffins (grain-free, sugar-free)
- Orange Carrot Cream Scones
- Apricot & Carrot Oatmeal Cookies
- Pumpkin Mini Muffins
- Vegan Ginger Pear Muffins
- Skip processed snacks – Prep raw fruits and veggies ahead and portion into reusable containers. Store in the front of the fridge, so they’re easy to find when hunger strikes. Emily and I both keep a multiple fruit/veg tray visible at all meal and snack times. It’s amazing how many carrots, cucumbers, grapes, and etc a child will eat while you get dinner ready.
- Trade in hydrogenated oils and trans fats – Instead, choose foods with better fats, including olives, nuts and nut butters, avocados, seeds, eggs and certain types of fish.
- Start the day with a healthy breakfast – We’ve collected 77 Ways to Eat Veggies for Breakfast and 55 Fun and Healthy Oatmeal Recipes so you’ll never run out of ideas.
- You don’t have to give up dessert! – Instead, try offering up a fruit-based dessert once or twice a week. This time of year is perfect for a buckle, crumble, grunt or slump. Try cutting the sugar in any fruit recipe in half; chances are you won’t even miss it. (You can always drizzle a little honey on the finished product if it comes out too tart.)
My top 5 tips for healthier eating this school year:
- DON’T try to change everything overnight. If your kids are used to chips and cookies in their lunchbox every day, they’re going to revolt if all you send is carrot sticks and apple slices. Take smaller steps by first swapping out unhealthy snacks with healthier versions — air-popped popcorn instead of potato chips and homemade (lower sugar and fat) cookies instead of Oreos.
- DO plan ahead. Let me just ‘splain something to you: you are not magically going to have more time on a Monday morning to pack a healthy lunch just because you have good intentions. Back those good intentions up with some prep ahead of time — pre-package homemade goodies so they’re easy to grab, chop fruit and veggies on the weekend, etc.
- DON’T become a food nazi. There’s no reason for that. Work towards eating healthfully most of the time, and then those birthday cupcakes in colors not found in nature won’t feel like such a big deal.
- DO plan for healthy snacks outside the lunchbox, too. Kids always hungry when they get home from school? Check out this healthy snack list for good ideas. Many of them are portable. And guess what? An orange is a much better choice than a sugary granola bar before or after sports.
- DON’T think that your lunch box is immune, either. Lead by example! Make healthy eating a family affair.
Want some more healthy lunch and snack ideas? You can come join us at Whole Foods Market Bradburn in Broomfield on August 18 for our back to school cooking demo, featuring local Colorado products! Kids welcome too! Click here to RSVP.