Back to School: Keeping the Whole Family Healthy
The kids are officially back in school, and it’s time to get back into a daily routine. This means preparing nutritious meals that will help fuel their minds and support their health. Making healthy, creative, kid-friendly recipes on a daily basis can seem daunting, but there are many ways to pack in important nutrients while having fun with the snacks and meals you make for your little ones.
Healthy options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner offer important benefits. A balanced breakfast not only fuels morning hunger after a good night’s sleep but also encourages healthy habits throughout the day. It may even improve school performance. Healthy snacks and lunches provide energy during the school day and into after-school activities. Dinner is a perfect opportunity for everyone to participate in cooking and learn about healthy ingredients. It’s also a chance for the entire family to sit down and enjoy a healthy meal together.
Wondering where to start? Here are some key nutrients to keep in mind when cooking for the family.
- Fiber – Commonly found in whole grains and fruits, fiber helps keep us full, moves food through the digestive tract, and helps prevent glucose spikes. Choose oats, berries, and whole-grain bread over muffins, bagels, and sugary cereals.
*Try this baked oatmeal for a fun twist on a traditional dish
- Healthy Fats – Kids need healthy fats to help with brain and nervous system development. Try adding sources of healthy fats, such as nuts or avocados, to breakfast to support their mental clarity throughout the school day.
*Your kids will love this breakfast pizza topped with avocados, bacon, and eggs.
- Protein – An important nutrient for growth and development, protein helps with muscle recovery, organ health, and hair and nail growth. Children who don’t get enough protein in their meals can experience slowed growth, delayed wound healing, fatigue, and more. High-protein foods include chicken, beans, eggs, and tofu.
*With cooler temperatures on the horizon, this chicken tortilla soup is an easy recipe that provides a great source of protein!
- Carbohydrates – Unrefined carbohydrates are a good source of energy for kids. Try to incorporate whole-food carbohydrates, like sweet potatoes, legumes, or fruit, into lunches. These options are packed with nutrients and fiber and provide energy for kids to get through the second half of their day.
*This sweet potato alfredo sauce is a healthy take on the jarred version. Put it on grilled chicken or portobello mushrooms for a delicious lunch your kids will enjoy!
- Calcium – Because bones grow rapidly during childhood and adolescence, calcium is an important nutrient for building strong bones and teeth. Most people automatically associate calcium with dairy products, but it’s also found in leafy greens, soy products, and some beans.
*Try this braised kale for a tasty side dish with simple, clean ingredients.
What are you cooking for the family this back-to-school season? Share below!