Focusing in on Good Nutrition

As childhood obesity statistics continue to climb in our country, it’s become more important for anyone who care for children to become part of the solution.

At Boys & Girls Clubs we provide healthy snacks of whole grains, fruit, veggies and dairy to our Club kids on a daily basis. Snacks like animal crackers, crackers and cheese, peanut butter, cheese sticks, applesauce and even turkey slices regularly make our menus, as do 100% fruit juice boxes. While we hand out snack, we often talk about good nutrition with our Club kids.

You’ll notice cooking classes are becoming the norm at all of our Club locations, thanks to a generous appropriation from the New York State Assembly, which has enabled us to purchase griddles, convection ovens and Ninja blenders for our programs. I expect a lot of smoothies in our Club kids futures!

Parents often lament to our staff that they have a difficult time “sneaking” healthy foods into their children’s diet, and so here are some Club-tested strategies that work:

  1. Spaghetti sauce is a GREAT place to hide veggies! A chopped zucchini or bell pepper can go virtually undetected in a red sauce. You can also add canned, unseasoned pumpkin It adds fiber and beta carotene, but has a mild flavor and creamy texture.
  2. Substituting a sliced (lengthwise) zucchini for half the pasta in a lasagna is another great way to cut the carbohydrates without losing flavor. Kids love to help in the kitchen, and younger kids will love layering sauce with pasta, then zucchini like a puzzle!
  3. When making meatloaf, sloppy joes or burgers, you can substitute chopped mushrooms for up to half of the beef. Since cooked mushrooms have roughly the same consistency as ground beef, your kiddos may not even notice!
  4. Consider substituting steamed cauliflower instead of potatoes in your next mashed potato recipe! The mild flavor of the cauliflower will mimic a potato when added to lowfat milk and cheeses.
  5. Try an egg scramble! Finely diced bell peppers, mushrooms and even zucchini can be added to an egg scramble with success!

We’ll try to give you other helpful nutrition tips throughout the school year so stay tuned!