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Resolve to make 2018 healthier for your kids

We’re already a couple weeks into 2018 and perhaps you’ve made a few New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe you want to spend less time on your smartphone or become better organized. While you’re making those plans, how about another resolution to help your kids eat healthier?

Good nutrition is essential for every child, and it’s important that healthy eating habits are established at an early age. Good, healthy food helps children grow strong, do better in school, and feel better about themselves. They will also be less likely to face issues such as obesity, eating disorders, dental cavities, and nutrition deficiencies.

#GiveMe5

At Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, we’re working promote healthy eating through our #GiveMe5 program, a partnership with Kohl’s Cares. The goal is to encourage parents and kids to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

“Kids of all ages need a variety of foods in order to get the nutrients necessary for good health and development. This includes a mix of protein, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy,” said Stephanie Quirantes, MS, RDN, LD at Nicklaus Children's Hospital. “Unfortunately, many children simply don’t eat enough fruits and vegetable in their daily diets so they are missing important nutrients.”

Why are fruits and vegetables so important?

Fruits and vegetables contain powerful nutrients like Vitamins A and C, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, and Folic Acid, which are all vital for health, growth and brain function. They also contain fiber, which aids in digestion and helps kids feel full so they won’t be tempted to overeat or indulge in fatty, sugary foods. This is very important as… “The percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6-19) has obesity,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

One other benefit of fruits and veggies is that they contain disease-fighting chemicals called phytonutrients (pronounced fito-nutrients).

“Phytonutrients boost children’s immune systems and may provide protection to eyes, skin, and bones, and help prevent serious, chronic diseases later in life,” Quirantes said.

3 ways to encourage your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables

We all know kids can be picky eaters, but it’s still important to try and get those five servings of fruits and vegetables in every day. It might take some effort – and a little cleverness on your part – but you can make each mealtime an opportunity to include delicious and nutritious foods that will build up your child’s body, strength, and mind. To give you a helping hand, we came up with three ways to include fruits and vegetables at every meal:

1. Have fruit with breakfast

>Top pancakes or waffles with strawberries or blueberries
>Have yogurt with fruit
>Slice a banana over cereal


2. Make a Veggie a Snack

>Snack time is an opportunity to replace fatty, sugary, non-nutritional foods like cookies or chips with something healthier
>Try cucumber slices or carrot sticks instead
>Spread peanut butter on celery sticks
>Steam a bag of edemame. They’re fun to eat and taste great.

3. Fill half of each plate with fruits and vegetables

>Make sure to include fruits and veggies with every meal
>Shred carrots or zucchini and include them in a casserole or in muffins
>Add chopped vegetables to your favorite spaghetti sauce
>Top steamed broccoli or green beans with grated parmesan cheese for extra flavor


Note:
It’s important that your children see you eating healthier foods, too, so be a good example.

Try this healthy recipe:

Strawberry-Blueberry Yogurt Bark 

Ingredients:
2 cups Plain or Vanilla Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup Blueberries
1/4 cup Strawberries, sliced
Or any other mix-ins of your choice (nuts, granola, fruits, coconut flakes, etc.)

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. 
2. Spread the yogurt out evenly on the parchment paper. 
3. Sprinkle the berries and any other toppings of your chosing atop the yogurt. 
4. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 2 hours, or until the yogurt has hardened. 
5. Chop into pieces and enjoy! Keep any leftovers in the freezer for a quick, tasty treat. 


Recipe inspired by SuperHealthyKids.com's creation

Helping your kids eat right is not always easy, but with a little effort your whole family can be healthier and stronger this year.

Visit us on social media and check out more recipes on our #GiveMe5 Fruit and Veggies Pinterest page.                                                        

Instagram: @Nicklaus4kids
Twitter: @Nicklaus4kids
Facebook: @NicklausChildrensHospital
Pinterest: @Nicklaus4kids
YouTube: Nicklaus Children’s Hospital

And don’t forget to use the hashtag #GiveMe5 on social media to share photos of your favorite healthy meals and snacks!

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