It’s summer time: School’s out, summer camps are on, and the season brings an abundance of delicious fruits and vegetables for the entire family. Here are some healthy and nutritious fun activities to do with your children during the summer break.
1. Visit your local Farmer’s Market
Most farmer’s markets sell fresh, locally produced fruits and vegetables.
Let your child explore and allow them to choose a fruit or vegetable to take home. Younger children can bag up the produce, and older children can weigh and calculate the cost. Challenge them to put one item of each color in their bag: white cauliflower, blue blueberries, orange carrots, green spinach, for example. Then discuss with them how they would like it prepared. Incorporate these produce superstars into meals:
Berries: Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, provide vitamin C and antioxidants that can give kids' immune systems and overall health, a good boost. Berries are also the perfect finger foods for kids. Try mixing berries with seltzer water and fresh mint to make your own berry ice cubes.
Avocados: These delicious treats contain heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat, as well as fiber, vitamin E, potassium, and vitamin C. You can add them to tacos, serve them as a spread with grilled cheese sandwiches, or slice them on top of eggs in the morning.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes provide fiber, vitamins A and C, potassium, and other important minerals. Naturally high water content makes tomatoes a hydrating choice for hot days. Make fresh salsa, add them to sandwiches or toss them into salads and pasta dishes.
Watermelons: With one of the highest water contents of any food. Watermelon is great for
keeping kids hydrated during the hot summer days. This fruit is also packed with vitamin C and lycopene. However, watch out for seeds, which could be a potential choking hazard in young children.
2. Make Dessert on the Grill
Grill fruit kebabs, pineapple slices, or peach halves on low heat until the fruit is hot and slightly golden. Serve the fruit on top of a scoop of low-fat ice cream or angel food cake for a tasty and nutritious dessert.
3. Make a Fruit smoothie
Blend fat-free or low-fat yogurt or milk with fruit pieces and crushed ice. Try bananas, berries, peaches, and pineapple for a tasty and healthy treat your children are sure to enjoy.
4. Plant a Garden
Herbs, veggies, or flowers? Dig in the dirt with your kids to let them see what they can grow with their two little hands. You can even get them their own gardening tools for some pride of ownership.
5. Pack a Picnic Lunch
Prepare a healthy lunch with the kids, let them pack it, and head outside for a picnic lunch. Cut up veggies to dip in hummus, fill a container with fresh fruit, and eat lunch on your deck or lay out a picnic blanket in the backyard or nearby park.
6. Prepare Food Together
By allowing your children to help you prepare meals, you get to spend time together and teach them about healthy and nutritious foods. Here are some ideas of fun food activities:
Personalized pizzas: Use whole-wheat English muffins, bagels, or pita bread as the crust and top it with tomato sauce, low-fat cheese, and cut-up vegetables or fruits.
Fruity peanut butterfly: Start with carrot sticks or celery for the body. Attach wings made of thinly sliced apples with peanut butter and decorate with halved grapes or dried fruit.
Frosty fruits: Freeze fresh fruits such as melon chunks, grapes, and blueberries and enjoy them as a refreshing treat.
Lemonade: Take the classic lemonade and add strawberries and sparkling water.
As you enjoy the summer with your children, remember to stay hydrated during all outdoor activities. Drinking fluids and consuming a wide variety of foods high in water content can help you remain hydrated when the temperatures rise.
Rika M. Greenberg, RD, LD/N, is a registered pediatric transplant dietitian at Holtz Children’s Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. For more information on UHealth Jackson Children’s Care, visit expertkidscare.org.