Can you believe that it’s already August? It’s that time again, preparing for back to school by shopping, making lunches, writing schedules and filling up the calendar – the busy season is coming quickly!
Your nutrition is important during this time. With temperatures still high, it is important to stay hydrated and that can be hard to remember when you are busy. Water makes up 60 percent of your body weight – it helps transport oxygen, fat, and glucose to your muscles, regulates your body temperature, and even helps in digestion. Your body needs water to function! Drinking water may be the first line of defense for dehydration, but you can also incorporate hydrating foods that are also good for you – eat your water! 😉
There are a lot of fruits that are wonderful for you, but also have high water content to keep you hydrated. Watermelon and strawberries have one of the highest water content by volume. In fact, they have about 92% water and are both packed with nutrients like vitamin C, B5, and B6 (to name a few!). Watermelon contains only about 48 calories per cup, so you can quench your thirst without feeling guilty. Strawberries are also a great alternative to your typical dessert or candy when you have a sweet tooth.
If you find vegetables more appetizing than fruit, try cucumbers or lettuce. They both contain 96% water content. 95% of zucchini, radish and celery is actually water content, and even vegetables like cauliflower, eggplant, red cabbage and spinach contain a whopping 92% water. So the next time you need to up your water intake, don’t grab a sports drink, replenish your body naturally with fruits and vegetables that not only will hydrate you, but leave you feeling full (without all the calories).
While your preparing for school to start, you may be also scratching your head for healthy meal ideas for the student in your house. Ditch the potato chips because I’ve got a bunch of ideas that your kids will love to eat – and make.
For breakfast the whole family needs brain food, especially the little ones going off to school first thing in the morning. Instead of reaching for the cereal, here are some healthier alternatives that will keep their tummies feeling full long after the first bell rings.
Try some steel cut oats with fresh berries and nuts. You can even soak the oats in coconut milk the night before with some chia seeds – it’s delicious! Experiment with your favorite flavors. Here is a recipe that I love (and it’s super easy!) Try making a larger batch to use for more than one morning:
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (I use Celtic Sea Salt)
- 2 dashes cinnamon
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup cherries
- 2 tablespoons walnuts
- 1/2 cup soy milk (I also use light coconut milk)
Step 1 – Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add salt, cinnamon, and steel cut oats.
Step 2 – Reduce to low heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 3 – Serve ½ cup cooked oats with a bit of walnuts, blueberries and cherries.
Step 4 – **Alternatively follow package directions, top with your favorite nuts and fruits.
Here are some other great ideas for breakfast:
- Yogurt parfaits – add your favorite fruit! You can find my favorite recipe here.
- Avocado on whole grain toast is simple & quick – mash the avocados, drizzle a little olive oil, add lemon juice and salt/pepper and you’ve got a yummy treat!
- Eggs! – Hard boiled, scrambled, poached, or sunnyside up, these are a great part of a nutritious breakfast. For a quick alternative, make multiple hard-boiled eggs and grab on the go!
- Homemade Granola – I have the perfect recipe for this, too! It is hearty, low in calories and can be eaten for breakfast or a snack.
Sending kids to school with healthy food in their lunch boxes is important. Sandwiches are definitely easy (and kids love them). Try switching up the old turkey and mayo with a healthy and nutritious wrap!
- 3 Slices turkey
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese
- 1 handful baby spinach leaves
- 2 Slices tomato
- 1 Slice red onion
- 1 whole wheat tortilla
- 1 Small orange
Step 1 – Spread cream cheese in the center of the whole wheat tortilla.
Step 2 – Layer with turkey, spinach, tomato and onion.
Step 3 – Wrap and enjoy with orange slices.
Here are some other fun and healthy lunches for this school year:
- PB&J – this is one of my favorites! Full of protein and super filling! Try using sunflower, cashew or almond butter as alternatives to peanuts.
- Pinwheels – Another sandwich alternative that is fun to eat! Roll up your favorite protein with some cream cheese and veggies in a spinach wrap or whole-wheat tortilla and slice for bite-sized pieces.
- Pasta Salad – this is a great way to use leftover chicken, ham or turkey. Add some cubed cheese and vegetables, toss with vinaigrette and a whole-grain pasta (use different pasta shapes added fun) and you’ve got an easy meal the whole family will love to eat.
- Quesadillas – these are so quick and versatile! Cheese alone or with meat, they can be enjoyed cold or hot.
How many times has your child come home from school famished from all the activity of the day? It is important to have some healthy snacks either pre-made or ingredients handy for your kids. It is equally important for you to bring healthy snacks with you to work. These ideas are great for both!
Blueberries are one of the world’s most powerful and antioxidant-rich superfoods. Summertime is berry season and there’s still no tastier way to enjoy super juicy fresh blueberries than good old-fashioned blueberry muffins. My recipe for blueberry muffins as high in fiber, low fat and sugar free as well! Make a batch on Sunday, and they will be this week’s go-to snack:
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup ZSweet natural zero calorie sweetener
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup light soymilk
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 Large egg
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- cooking spray
Step 1 – Preheat oven to 400°.
Step 2 – Combine flour, ZSweet, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl.
Step 3 – Combine light soy milk, applesauce, egg and lemon zest mix well with a whisk.
Step 4 – Add flour mixture to liquid mixture; stir with a large spoon until moist (don’t over mix).
Step 5 – Gently fold in blueberries.
Step 6 – Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
Step 7 – Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until you can poke with a tooth pick and it comes out clean.
Step 8 – Place on a wire rack to cool.
Here are some other nutritious snacks for the whole family:
- Banana Bread – My recipe for Bangin’ Banana Bread is not only tasty but also incredibly healthy. This is great for breakfast or a healthy snack.
- Skewers! – Whether you put cheese, meat, vegetables or fruit on them, food on a stick is a win for any kid. Try these Caprese Skewers or come up with a combo of your choice. You can make them ahead and refrigerate for another day.
- Fruit and peanut butter – try having apples with peanut butter, or bananas dipped in peanut butter (you can even drizzle with a little honey). Almond butter is great peanut-free alternative for this snack.
- Ants on a log – celery and peanut butter, topped with raisons or dried blueberries. A good nut-free version of this is called Egg Salad Boats. Use egg salad instead of peanut butter and tomato instead of raisons! If your child is a fan of cream cheese, you use this instead of peanut butter, too.
- Fresh Fruit Pops – Try these during the warmer weather. They are healthy, sweet and hydrating all at the same time!
- I found this awesome article that has a ton of veggie snack ideas as well. Try adding some of these to your snack rotation.
I hope that with these suggestions, you are inspired this upcoming school year to create some yummy and healthy meals and snacks! I’d love to see your creations and hear what your favorites were. Tag me on Facebook, or post on my wall here. If you’re in the twitter-sphere, mention me there (@ChristineAvanti) and I’ll be sure to check it out!
Here’s to enjoying what is left of this fabulous summer!