Dr. Kantor shares tips to encourage kids to make good food choices, as well as great summer recipes that kids can help make with the Emporia Gazette.
Q1. What are some healthy meals that even the kids can make while they are home for the summer?
Kids tend to be sick of school lunches, so providing healthy options that are nothing like a school lunch during the summer is best. Have them make a healthy taco or burrito. Have pre-cooked seasoned meat in the fridge, cheese, fresh salsa, guacamole, beans, olives, and vegetables, like cucumbers, onion, peppers, etc. This is a protein packed lunch option that is not boring but still nutritious. They can also make their own pizzas, instead of a refined white flour crust they can use a wheat tortilla or gluten free wrap as the crust and load with fresh veggies, leftover protein like chicken, herbs like basil and high quality cheese.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Serving Size: 2 pieces
Calories per serving: 282
Fat per serving: 5g
- 8 corn or flour tortillas
- 4 Green Box Foods boneless skinless chicken breasts 6 oz., cut into thin strips
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
- 1 package Green Box Foods Chopped Onions 8 oz.
- 1 package Green Box Foods Chopped Green Peppers 8 oz.
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup prepared hot salsa
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Sliced scallions, chopped fresh tomatoes and reduced-fat sour cream, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Wrap tortillas in foil and bake until heated through, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, season chicken with salt. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat until very hot. Add chicken and cook, stirring until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to skillet. Add onion and cook, stirring, until they start to brown around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Add green peppers, garlic, jalapeño and cumin. Cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Stir in salsa and reserved chicken. Cook, stirring, until chicken is heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Spoon into warmed tortillas and garnish with scallions, tomatoes and sour cream.
Level of difficulty: Easy
Q2. What are some healthy snacks that the kids will like?
Smoothies or shakes are a fantastic kid friendly snack that fits perfect into a day of playing or swimming outside in the heat. Go for a low sugar liquid like unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk as the base, add a fruit of your choice (berries, mango, banana, etc.) and a protein source like unsweetened Greek yogurt. You can also add in vegetables like spinach that will be tasteless but still nutritious in a cold shake.
A homemade nutrition bar or cookies are also a great thing to make and have around the house as a “grab and go” option. These alternatives will satisfy a sweet tooth while providing more fiber, healthy fats and less sugar.
Gluten Free Oatmeal bites
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 25 servings
Serving Size: 1 oatmeal bite
Calories per serving: 92
Fat per serving: 6g
Try these gluten free oatmeal bites as an alternative to traditional sweets for your children.
- 1c gluten free Oats
- 1/2 c of Peanut, cashew or almond butter
- 2-3T Honey
- 1/4c Almonds
- 1/3c Walnuts?
- 1/2c dark Chocolate Chips
- In a small or medium size mixing bowl, combine the oatmeal and peanut butter. Once that is combined, add in the honey.
- Chop the almonds and walnuts. Add them to the oatmeal mixture and combine, then add the chocolate chips.
- Roll into balls and store in fridge or freezer. ENJOY!
Level of difficulty: Easy
Berry Spinach Smoothie
- Prep time: 5 min.
- Cook time: none
- Number of servings: 1
- Serving size: 16 oz.
- Difficulty: easy
- 1-2 c unsweetened almond and or coconut milk
- 1 c frozen or fresh berries (we used an organic frozen berry medley on the show, blue berries, black berries and raspberries)
- 1 large handful of fresh or frozen spinach (we used fresh on the show)
- 1 tbs. ground flax seed
- ½ c. unsweet Greek yogurt
- Combine all ingredients.
- Add ice, if desired.
- Blend on high and serve!
Q3. Do you have any tips on encouraging kids to make good food choices?
Keep them involved, several different research studies show that children eat healthy if they are involved in the preparation. If your child helps you plan meals, snacks, and cook them, they will have more of an “investment” in the food and they tend to eat what they planned or worked so hard to cook. Let them pick a vegetable rather than forcing them to eat ones that are not on the top of their preferred list.
Q4. Do you have a position in the “hiding it” v. “be honest” aspects of feeding children things they say they don’t want, but that they do need to eat.
I think it is perfectly fine to hide healthy foods into meals and snacks. Both children and adults can do this all of the time, adding pureed vegetables like carrots or cauliflower into sauces or casseroles can increase fiber and nutrient content of a meal without having to force children (or adults) to eat bland vegetables that they may not like by themselves. Adding fresh vegetables like spinach to smoothies is also a great way to sneak them in. Forcing kids to eat foods that they do not enjoy could backfire and result in junk food binges or a negative connotation of vegetables later in life.
Q5. Do you have any personal anecdotes regarding how you determined these recipes for kids?
My kids are grown, but our head Registered Dietitian, Dana Yarn has 3 small children and 3 older teens. She has tried several different recipes on her children, she found these options to be the most requested and successful with her own. She believes that everyone’s favorite food can be transformed into a healthier version or a low allergy version. Food allergies have increased amongst children so using dairy free, gluten free, and peanut alternatives are necessary.
Dr. Kantor’s greatly anticipated new children’s book, The Green Box League of Nutritious Justice, is now available. Be sure to order this highly reviewed book, filled with healthy living tips for the whole family. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.