Summer foods. Families are in the groove having swapped out the book bag and lunch box for pool-noodles and picnic baskets. And, while many parents follow a routine meal plan during the school year, a carefree mindset kicks in once the last bell rings in June. Enter summer foods.
Unfortunately, all the healthy-select sandwiches, carefully cut apple wedges and 3-ounce cheese cubes take a hiatus during the summer months. Dare we let a turkey sandwich sit in a hot car, warm cooler or in the sun; and that apple quickly turns brown or worse, to mush, in 80-degree weather. The cheese –well, nothing to be said there. Melted, gooey, messy cheese.
Enter, summer foods. I’ve always liked the first few weeks of summer and the readily-available convenience foods: Fast food from corner vendors, concession stand hot-dogs, potato chips and high fructose boxed drinks.
Oops, I mean– “juice” boxes.
It is not too difficult to notice and become aware of the majority of kids who are packing the pounds as the summer wears on, primarily, as a result of the less-than-healthy foods they are eating all day. Who hasn’t allowed Timmy to eat marshmallows and chocolate chips with his 2nd bowl of cereal…at 10 o’clock? And, don’t we all feel a little Martha Stewart-like when we happily place a perfectly seasoned bowl of creamy, tangy homemade potato salad on the table for dinner. And don’t forget the festivals and festival food, amusement park treats and too-hot days that beg for a double-scoop of triple chocolate ice cream. Who can pass up S’mores around the campfire, pizza on the patio and burgers on the grill?
This, after all, is summer.
So, should you make your kid forego all the treats that make summer snacks and vacation days instant kid memories? Heck no. However, there are 5 summer foods
that are best avoided or should be given in moderation, especially given their sugar or fat and calorie count. No matter what age, these 5 foods of summer are certain to sabotage energy while contributing to excess empty calories:
Lemonade and fruity drinks
Watch out for juice drinks like fruit punch and lemonade. They have lots of added sugar. A bottle of fruit punch can have more sugar than four chocolate glazed doughnuts. Plus it may have only 5% or 10% real fruit juice. Other than that, it’s mostly water and high fructose corn syrup — a sugar your body doesn’t need.
A 20-ounce bottle of cola can have more sugar than three big brownies! Opt for water, flavored water, seltzer water or a 1/3 cup of juice mixed into water (cuts the sugar content). Option for kids: none. Keeping kids off soda is the smartest option.
Cheeseburgers and hot dogs
An average cheeseburger has 750 calories and 45 grams of fat. Hot dog: 280 calories, 15 g fat, 1,250 mg of sodium. Most hot dogs, bratwurst, and other sausages are very high in sodium. To create an alternative, explore black bean burgers, vegan “not dogs” and vegetable protein patties with a piece of vegan cheese. They will never know the difference.
Creamy mayonnaise-based salads
A small half-cup portion of typical potato salad has 180 calories and 12 grams of fat. For a fat saver, try a German-style potato salad, using more vinegar than oil. Then toss a lot of veggies into the salad to increase the fiber and nutrients.
Frozen treats and ice cream
A cup of soft-serve ice cream can have 380 calories and 22 grams of fat. Make it a chocolate cookie dough milkshake concoction, and the calories soar to 720, with 28 grams of fat! You don’t need to give up frozen treats, just pass on the giant portions or high fat toppings. Look for frozen desserts like sherbet, fudge bars, fruit bars, or other treats under 150 calories per serving or fruit desserts like strawberry shortcake.
As you can see, there are many ways you and your child can enjoy the tastes of summer foods without feeling like you are compromising health. Are you already there? Share your success – we would love to hear from you and possibly feature your story in an upcoming blog.
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