Back-to-school nutrition

August 30, 2009 7:44:52 AM PDT
As your children go back to school, it's important they begin their day with a nutritious meal and continue that trend throughout the day. Susan Kraus, a clinical dietitian at Hackensack University Medical Center, joined us with some favorite meals and their healthy alternatives. What is the difference between summer eating and fall eating?

During the summer, our daily eating plan can sometimes be out of whack. Once fall approaches, when our kids go back to school, we are in a more regular routine of meals and snacks. Adjusting to the fall routine can be tough. Our kids need to resume their schedules, do their homework, eat at specific times and eat what is prepared for them.

What can parents do to combat childhood obesity?

With the concern of increased obesity hitting every age group, including our children, it is also our responsibility to think in terms of not only preparing foods that taste good, but are lower in fat and calories than their traditional counterparts. It would also be of major benefit if these foods would also be nutrient dense, so we would not only be able to manage our children's weight, but the food provided would also be actually good for them.

How should parents structure a healthy diet for their kids?

Even with the concern about weight, we need to understand that children still have high calorie needs that need to be met and should not be severely slashed for promoting weight loss. Rather than thinking in terms of restricting foods, we would rather see our children build healthy bodies as they grow and develop, and for those who have weight concerns, the focus needs to be more on these children "growing into their weight".

How can you form a "healthy relationship" with food?

In order to acquire a healthy relationship with food, we need to treat food in healthy way, and not deliberately restrict, deny or think of food in a negative light.

How important are snacks?

Smart snack choices are highly important, since a significant part of our kids' calorie intake does come from snacks. There are many ways to keep snacks appealing while also keeping a check on total fat and calories.


Juice- 8 oz
French Toast- - 3 slices
2 T maple syrup

Total calories: about 695 calories/ 17 gm fat/215 mg cholesterol

Modified low fat version
Juice- 8 oz
Low fat French Toast- using 3 slices light bread and egg beaters
½ c berries
Total calories: about 330 calories/ 8 gm fat/ 0 mg cholesterol


Traditional Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Based on recipe: one portions provides:
1017 calories, 72 grams fat, 41 grams sat fat and 145 mg cholesterol

Low fat Macaroni and cheese recipe
Based on recipe: one portion provides:
562 calories, 18 grams fat, 12 grams sat fat and 75 mg cholesterol

Even with adding a salad, fruit cup and extra slice of whole grain bread- this would add another: 250 calories to the lunch, still leading to less calories than a portion of traditional macaroni and cheese without any accompaniments


Basic milkshake
Traditional recipe with milk and ice cream
Per serving: 286 calories, 16 grams fat, 62 mg cholesterol

Made of non-fat yogurt, fresh and frozen fruit and splash of juice: 160 calories and no fat
This recipe will provide assorted antioxidant vitamins(A, C, D) and minerals (calcium, potassium) and fiber due to fruit being ingredients in the recipe

Traditional Trail Mix
Made of chocolate chips, unsalted nuts and seeds:
1 cup provides: 707 calories, 47 gm fat, 9 gm sat fat

Homemade trail mix
1 c Cheerios
1 oz honey wheat pretzels
1 cup air popped popcorn
20 almonds
4 T raisins
This would make 3.5 cups mix- It is estimated that 1 cup of this mixture would provide: 132 calories, 3 gm fat


French Toast- A Low Fat Modified Version

Recipe Ingredients:
4 slices Lite Bread
3 ounces Commercial Egg Substitute
½ cup Fat free milk
Cooking spray
1 cup fresh berries

Serving: 4 slices lite bread

Method: Blend milk and egg substitute together well. Dip slices of lite bread in mixture on both sides, until well coated. Spray fry pan evenly with cooking spray and heat pan on medium heat until pan is evenly heated. Fry coated bread until browned on both sides. Serve with berries.

Nutritional Composition per serving:
Estimated calories: 360
Estimated fat: 3 grams
Estimated cholesterol: 6 mg

Macaroni and Cheese- A Modified Low Fat Version

Recipe Ingredients:

¾ cup evaporated fat free milk
1 cup low fat cottage cheese
½ cup low fat ricotta cheese
½ cup shredded low fat cheddar cheese
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 dash each of salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon bread crumbs, fine, dry
1 pound macaroni

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cook and drain pasta; set aside
3. Heat milk in saucepan over low heat. Add the cheeses until they melt, stirring constantly.
4. Stir in nutmeg, pepper and salt. Remove the cheese sauce from the heat. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and mix well.
5. Pour mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bread Crumbs. Bake the casserole for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and the Top is browned.

Serves 6

Nutritional Composition per Serving:
Estimated calories: 205
Estimated fat: 3 grams
Estimated saturated fat: 1 gram
Estimated cholesterol: 14 mg

Low fat Smoothie

Method: Place all ingredients in a blender-
1 cup fat free yogurt
1 medium banana
1 cup berries
1 Tablespoon honey

Blend until smooth
Makes one serving

Nutritional Composition per Serving:
Estimated calories: 300
Estimated fat: 0 grams
Estimated saturated fat: 0 grams
Estimated cholesterol: 5 mg

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