Parents are cheering; kids are somewhat less enthusiastic, their mood falling somewhere between the excitement of seeing their old friends (a feeling lasts a week or so) and the dread of a school time schedule.
Back-to-school time is an ideal time for nutrition education. In the aisles the themes can play to both the parents and the kids since healthy snacks and lunches, quick breakfasts and dinner-time ideas are all loaded with potential. Here are some thoughts on to the school-groove theme:
• Breakfast is the most important meal of the day For children especially, the answer is likely to be yes because of the studies showing that children have a better attention span and are more likely to concentrate on learning when they start with some nutritious fuel. Cereal, milk, rice or soy beverages and fruit as well as grab-and-go cereal bars make the grade. Ready-to-eat hard cooked eggs, yogurt and smoothies are also hits.
• Healthy snacks can play on the breakfast themes for ideas. Aisle demonstrations of yogurt parfaits (yogurt, cereal or granola and fruit) as well as smoothies are an ideal way to go. Children have been eating them away-from-home so bring it home with some taste tests.
• Allergies and gluten free are an ongoing issue but become teaching and demonstration points as school starts. Sunflower seed butter or soy butter are good alternatives for some children, but parents need to taste these products and be reminded that they also taste good! And don’t forget these items also work as alternatives for school parties and entertaining friends at home.
• Meal time schedules continue to require convenience in a big way, particularly as fall schedules kick in. The slow cooker is back and it is a good time to feature some healthy bean soups, and related one-pot simmer meals.
• Don’t forget the college crowd. It’s a good time to help them learn to cook healthy (and safely) in their first apartment or school dorm. Be sure to remind parents there are rules on what can be used in a dorm room. Be sure to give some ideas for “care packages” that pack some nutrition into their kids’ nightly snacking that accompanies studying. Snack bars, small juice packs, 100-calorie packs of nuts and other better-for-you snacks are good ideas that require no refrigeration or cooking.
[Photo credit: Anthony Dahl Wheeler]