Tuesday, July 5, 2011

a few summer eating tips focused on the kids

Today on my second trip to the co-op I wound up sharing a table in the shade outside with a woman and her two young sons. They were having snacks. The boys were probably 3 and 5 years old and I was super impressed because they were chowing down on rice crackers with locally made arugala pesto, vegan green smoothies and 1 rice dream ice cream bar split between them. So naturally I complemented this woman on the way her boys were eating and we had a nice conversation about children and thier eating habits. It reminded me of two of my nieces and the way thier boys eat and another nephew of mine on my husband's side, Noah, who all eat as their parents eat and not all of the marketed kid junk that is on the shelves. It inspired me, a nonparent but aunt, great aunt, and honorary aunt to many, to give a few kid friendly summer eating ideas. Let's face it kid friendly means adult friendly too. We all want cooling foods to contrast the summer heat. Ice cream, popcicles, etc. all sound yummy and I admit taste yummy in the summer. When the kinda creepy song of the ice cream trucks come humming down the street who doesn't want to run out to it: big kid or small kid. So My suggestion to satisfy those sweet toothes and watch that truck roll on by is to purchase some of your favorite fruits and freeze them. Grapes, berries of any kind, pineapple, bananas and mango will all freeze and make nice healthy treats this summer. If you want to cover them in chocolate go ahead. Melt some unsweetened carob(my preference but maybe not the kiddos) or unsweetened dark chocolate(you can sweeten it yourself with honey, agave, date puree, maple syrup, etc.) and put a wooden skewer or Popsicle stick in the chunk of fruit, dip it, put the dipped fruit in a parchment paper lined dish with a lid suitable for the freezer and enjoy in a few hours. Let the kids help. It will give them a little greater appreciation for the food they consume if they are able to participate in preparing it. Plus they will want what they made over the other usually. Please remember that fruit is sugar and too much is not healthy. Balance your sugar intake with healthy fats and protein. I learned this the hard way last week. After going on a fruit binge for 3 days and not balancing it out I ended up fainting because my blood sugar was out of whack. It is easy to loose focus with food. I know these facts and I did. My excuse: for years we ,my husband and myself, had to be very vigilant about fruit consumption because we were eating to fight cancer and too much fruit equals too much sugar which the tumors love. That being said many fruits have cancer fighting properties so it is a matter of education and balance. So after years of conservative fruit eating I decided I was going to chow down and boy did I. Anyway, I also want to encourage you to drink coconut water to keep hydrated when you or your kids are out in the summer heat. Plain old water cannot be beat but when you need those electrolytes boosted nothing holds a candle to coconut water. So leave the sports drinks on the shelf. They are full of crap like artificial colors, flavors, sugars and preservatives. Raw Snap peas make a wonderful, crunchy and sweet snack but these too are high in sugar so balance them with a fat or protein like olives, avocado, almonds, walnuts, sesame, hemp, chia or sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds or coconut. Have fun with food this summer. Try to make it the food that mother nature has provided.

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