For millions of Americans, the Fourth of July means firing up the grill and chowing down on family favorites. This year, plan ahead with a combination of healthy grilling options!
- Plan ahead — you want half of both yours and your child’s plate to be veggies and fruits, one quarter protein and one quarter grains.
- Prepare a vegetable plate in minutes with grilled squash, mushrooms, peppers, corn, carrots or cauliflower. Toss the veggies with a splash of olive oil and your favorite seasoning and place them on the grill. Do this first and set them out for everyone to munch on while the other food is prepared.
- Trade traditional mayo-heavy coleslaw for a fresh carrot salad dressed with plain Greek yogurt, raisins and chopped apples. This sweet and crunchy dish is a kid favorite!
- Combine a cooked whole-wheat pasta such as bowtie, penne, or orzo or grain such as couscous, quinoa, millet or sorghum with Chinese broccoli, beans and colorful peppers to create a pasta salad.
- Choose lean ground beef, turkey or chicken for your burgers. Kids also enjoy veggie burgers made of chickpeas or black beans.
- Make sliders instead of full-size burgers. Use whole-grain dinner rolls for the buns. Serve them with romaine lettuce leaves and tomato slices.
- Grill marinated shrimp or chicken skewers. Add peppers or grape tomatoes for sweetness, dietary fiber and a dose of vegetables.
- Grill pineapple rings or peach halves until their natural sugars caramelize. Present the grilled fruit on a dessert bar with low-fat or fat-free vanilla yogurt or soy yogurt, nuts as sprinkles and fresh cherry toppers.
Exposing your kids to healthy eating and cooking early in life is key. There are lots of ways to make food prep a family affair.
- Wash: Ask kids to rinse and dry a large bunch of grapes or berries for a fruit salad.
- Stir: Let children mix pre-measured herbs, spices and lemon juice to create a flavorful yogurt dip or sauce for vegetables.
- Chop: Supervise older children as they chop vegetables and fruit, thread chunks of fruits and vegetables onto skewers for grilling, and put together more involved dishes by following recipes.
- Assemble: Lay out pre-chopped ingredients to create grill-ready foil packets of potatoes, peppers, onions and seasonings. Have kids go down the line, assembling each packet.
Engaging kids in food prep and cooking gives them a sense of accomplishment and ownership of what they eat. Lending a hand in the kitchen is fun and encourages children to taste the fruits of their labor. Make good nutrition a family norm — show your kids how to eat well by introducing new family traditions at barbecues.
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