Ice cream, s’mores and popsicles make summer fun for kids, but too much of those sweet summer treats will leave kids sluggish and busting out of their shorts by the time school starts.
Buffalo County Extension Associate Ranae Aspen said her own family, which includes two teen-agers, often struggles with making healthy food choices even though her job is to educate kids and parents on healthy eating and activities.
Last July, her family had a big wake-up call.
Her husband, Dan, began having nausea and pain in his chest. After putting off symptoms for nearly month, Ranae finally talked her then 59-year-old husband into going to the doctor. But, on the way to the doctor, his symptoms worsened, and they ended up in the ER. His heart stopped during a procedure at the hospital, and doctors installed two stents to open arteries that were 90 percent blocked.
Ranae said she believes stress played a part in husband’s heart attack. And now, along with teaching families about healthy eating, Ranae emphasizes the importance of eliminating stress as part of overall health.
“I’m a firm believer that the stress we put on ourselves can cause physical damage,” Ranae said. “I think it makes me mindful that you have to have time to be where you are at and not have everything so highly scheduled.”
In her classes with children, she often stops for breathing exercises to teach the kids to calm themselves if they are restless.
“Call it spirituality. Call it mindfulness. Call it whatever you want,” she said. “Sometimes, we just need to be where we are at and breathe and not feel that stress.”
That scare also re-energized Ranae to keep educating children and families on the importance of making healthy food choices, while at the same time still enjoying (in moderation) summer treats.
“I think we don’t need to be so hard on ourselves,” Ranae said. “Summer time is hard. Everyone’s going different directions. If you are going to eat that processed frozen pizza, that’s fine. But, just have a plan to get back on track the next day.”
Here’s a few of Ranae’s ideas for Healthy Summer Snacks for Kids
1. Fresh fruits and vegetables
2. Pudding cups (yes, they have sugar – but they have dairy, too)
3. Hummus, store bought or homemade. Serve on a whole grain crackers. See Hummus Recipe Here.
4. Instead of ice cream every day, try frozen yogurt or smoothies. Simple Smoothie Recipe Here.
5. Make-your-own popsicles with fruit juices.
6. Freeze grapes, strawberries or blueberries and eat them frozen.
7. Top tortillas with beans, lettuce, tomatoes and a little cheese for a light meal or snack. Tortilla Recipes Here.
For more information on eating healthy, visit Ranae’s blog at https://raspen2.wordpress.com/
For more healthy recipes and snack ideas, visit the UNL Extension Food and Fitness Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/UNLExtensionFoodAndFitness/