Healthy Alternatives for Summer Meals

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June 24, 2013 by thehealthyheartcenter

Happy summer! It’s finally time for baseball games, cookouts, beach trips… and the inevitable junk foods. Although you should never deprive your children or label foods as “bad,” it’s still important to influence healthy behaviors such as not over-indulging, choosing healthy alternatives, and being physically active.

Children can definitely still consume their favorite summer foods while also being provided healthy meals through these tips:

1. Nachos & Quesadillas: Mexican food is generally easy to turn into a nutritionally-dense meal by using whole grain chips and tortillas and sneaking in lots of veggies, protein, calcium, and fiber.

-Create a Nacho Platter: Top tortillas with beans, salsa, guacamole, and melt low-fat cheese over it. If sour cream is wanted, use a light version.
-Puree Veggies: Slip them into a chip dip, or use it as a nacho topping. Your kids won’t know the difference!
-Quesadillas: Top whole-wheat tortillas with beans, low-fat cheese, veggies (like red bell and green peppers, tomatoes green onions, spinach, mushrooms), and chicken. Use healthy sides such as lettuce, salsa, and guacamole.

2. Hamburgers and Hot Dogs: This classic summer meal is generally viewed as one to avoid due to the high fat, sodium, and cholesterol content; however, they can be made nutritional if done the right way.

-Grilling at Home: Choose whole wheat buns for added fiber. Opting for one-half lean beef and one-half ground turkey (or turkey all-together) makes for a much healthier choice. Fun toppings to use are lemon or orange zest, black pepper, salsa, BBQ sauce, and pineapple. Don’t forget veggies such as sliced tomato, lettuce, and onion.
-Veggie Burgers: Again using a whole wheat bun, this is another nutritionally-dense option to try.
-Hot Dog Alternatives: Try light and reduced-fat hot dogs, including chicken and turkey dogs.

3. Ice Cream: This summer sweet is undeniably a favorite and hard to resist; however, most ice creams have about 15 grams of fat or more per 1/2 cup serving.

-Light/Slow-Churned: Many well-known brands such as Dreyers/Edy’s, Breyers, and Haagen-Dazs have super-creamy “light” and “slow-churned” ice creams that cut lots of fat and calories. Read labels carefully. Plain flavors like chocolate and vanilla have about 100 calories per half-cup, while other flavors are 120 to 130 calories — even 250 calories per serving.
-Fudgicles/Popcicles: These choices actually dodge lots of fat and sugar. In fact, Fudgsicles now come in fat-free or low-fat, no sugar added versions. Popsicles are fat-free, even sugar-free if you want.
-Go FroYo: Frozen yogurt is a great alternative, although calories and fat are still something to be aware of here. Add healthier toppings such as berries or dark chocolate chips.
-DIY: Making your own frozen fruit pops are an extremely easy alternative. Buy molds and sticks at a crafts store, pour in your favorite fruit juice, and freeze. Smoothies are another easy and smart summer treat.

4. Baked Goods: Although these sweets are recommended to be consumed in moderation, you can definitely have your cake and eat it too with these tips.

-Bake Your Own: Lighten up cupcakes, brownies, or dessert bars by replacing half the oil with applesauce (or another fruit puree).
-Chocolate Cravings: To give kids a chocolate fix, use chocolate shavings for flavoring on angel food cake, frozen yogurt, seasonal fruit, or other healthier treats. It’s better than giving them a candy bar.
-Naturally Sweet: Grilled bananas, low-fat ice cream, a drizzle of melted chocolate, and light whipped topping.

5. Thirst-Quenchers: Kids are generally much more active in the summer, not to mention it’s just simply hot, so replenishing is important.. just not when it’s loaded with sugar.

-Sharing is Caring: Divide beverages such as those large lemonades at the pool and fairs into cups. Dilute with a bit with water.
-Fruit Juice: Carry this with you or flavor ice water with lemon, limes, oranges, or cucumbers. If it’s hot, they’re not going to fuss over drinking water.
-Spritzers: Make a spritzer with exotic fruit juices (like pomegranate or noni juice) plus sparkling water. Or, use blueberry extract with sparkling water.
-Compromise: Soda once in a while is fine, but give my the option of choosing whether they want a can of soda or a sweet such as cookies instead. Letting them making the choices gives them a sense of empowerment.



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