March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
For many, fall means new classes, new activities and sports, new schedules and a shift to colder weather foods. Regardless of age, having the right fuel — even better if it comes from produce that's at its peak — is key to helping kids do their best.
Summer's bounty of tomatoes and peaches may be over, but harvest season has its own advantages such as the following delicious fall foods. Here are some simple, kid-friendly ways to add them to your family's meals.
PumpkinIs anything more fall-like than a pumpkin? These famously orange winter squashes are chock-full of vitamin A and deliver 3 grams of fiber per ½-cup serving of cooked sugar pumpkin, plus potassium. And don't forget about roasting the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a good source of several nutrients, including zinc, which is essential for many body processes including immune function.
Try pumpkin puree mixed into mac-and-cheese or with hummus for a seasonal spread. Looking for more options? Add it to pancake batter, oatmeal, smoothies or your kid's favorite chili.
Heart-healthy oats are loaded with fiber for slow-burning energy. Oats also provide vitamin B6 and other nutrients that are important for growth and development and overall health.
Warm oatmeal is a filling breakfast containing soluble fiber to help keep blood sugar levels stable. Top oatmeal with nuts and fruit for even more fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Apples pack a powerful nutrition punch. No wonder they sit on teachers' desks and keep the doctor away. They are a good source vitamin C. Leave the skin on for added fiber.
Sprinkle apple slices with cinnamon or pair with cheese or peanut butter for an easy snack. Don't forget about dinner! Apples also taste great when stewed and served with savory foods such as roasted pork.
They may be small, but Brussels sprouts are part of the powerhouse cruciferous veggie family. Each 1-cup serving of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 4 grams of fiber, is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K and folate and a good source of iron. They even have some protein.
You can cut whole Brussels sprouts into kid-friendly quarters and toss with sea salt and olive oil. Roast until crispy and you've got a tasty alternative to French fries. If your kids are skeptical, serve the sprouts mixed with roasted sweet potato or butternut squash cubes. You can also shred them (or buy them pre-shredded) and sauté lightly then toss into your kids’ favorite pasta or rice dish.