Healthy Treats for Children & Families

Celebrating American Heart Health Month

by Celina Paras, MSc, RDN, LD

Choose Fruits, Nature’s Sweet Treat

Fruits are naturally sweet and offer vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. On the other hand, the sweetness in most candies comes from lots of added sugars. These added sugars provide empty calories, meaning they don’t add any nutritional value. Some examples of fun and healthful options include: rainbow fruit skewers, heart-shaped fruit pops, and fruit smoothies.

Snack on Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds provide many nutrients including heart-healthy fats and protein. The protein and dietary fats from nuts and seeds make us feel full faster. Choose trail mix, cocoa powder dusted almonds, or apple slices with peanut butter.

Swap Milk Chocolate for Dark Chocolate

Chocolate comes from cacao seeds, which have flavonoids with antioxidant properties. Dark chocolate has more cocoa and much less added sugar than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate containing 70 percent cocoa or higher provides the most health benefits. Dark chocolate may be a bit bitter for children, try choosing one with dried fruits for natural sweetness, or make chocolate covered strawberries.

Like with all Foods, Moderation is Key

Enjoying all foods in moderation is the key to maintaining a healthful balance. Not all foods provide the same calories and nutritional value. Focusing on eating more whole foods such as fruits, nuts, and seeds, and less on highly processed foods such as sweets, baked goods, and sugar-sweetened beverages, are ways to satisfy your sweet tooth while providing nutritionally dense foods.

Try this CHEF-Approved recipe and enjoy it with your loved ones!

How to: Host a CHEF-Approved Super Bowl Party

by Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD
Get your game face on! It’s almost time for the Super Bowl! Traditional Super Bowl foods tend to be loaded with calories, fat, and sodium. Instead, try these delicious and nutritious Game Day recipes that are sure to please:

Deconstructed Mini Cheeseburger Bites

Serving Size: 5 Mini Cheeseburger Bites

1. Skewer Grape tomato
2. Add Romaine Lettuce
3. Add 1 pickle slice
4. Add cube of cheddar cheese
5. Add mini meatball

Mini Meatball Recipe

½ lb lean ground beef
¼ cup whole grain bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp dried parsley
Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. Roll mixture into small balls, about the size of a grape.
4. Place on a nonstick baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
5. Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 155°F.

Veggie Shooters

Assorted veggies:
Carrot Sticks
Cucumber Slices
Red or Green Bell Pepper Sticks
2 Grape tomatoes on toothpick
Celery Sticks
CHEF Ranchy Dip [view recipe]
Assemble in a small plastic cup

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Serving size: 2 sliders
2 Whole wheat buns
3 ounces of Shredded chicken
1 tsp Buffalo Sauce
Top with lettuce and tomato (optional)

Fruit Kabobs with Dark Chocolate Drizzle

  1. Skewer assorted fruit such as pineapple, grapes, strawberries, melon
  2. Lightly drizzle with melted dark chocolate
  3. Enjoy!

Salad in a Mason Jar

Layer romaine lettuce with your favorite veggies
Suggestions: Cucumbers, bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, tomatoes
Top with CHEF Italian Style Dressing [view recipe]

7 Layer Dip

Layers from bottom to top:

  1. Mashed pinto beans
  2. Mashed Avocado
  3. Low Fat Greek Yogurt
  4. Chunky Salsa
  5. Low-fat shredded cheese
  6. Tomatoes, diced
  7. Green onions

Healthy Pantry Swaps

by Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD and Celina Parás, MSc, RDN, LD

Cooking healthy meals at home starts with a pantry stocked with healthy ingredients. Finding easy substitutions for foods you already know and love can help you stick to your New Year’s Resolution all year long. Check out these Healthy Swaps from our CHEF Dietitians:

Go with the (Whole) Grain

Whole Grains are a great source of B-vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Eating whole grain foods each day may help prevent risk factors associated with heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and even certain cancers. Try these whole grain substitutions to start your pantry makeover today:

Healthy Swaps:

  • Whole Grain Bread for White Bread
  • Whole Grain Flour for White Flour
  • Whole Grain Cereal for Sugar-sweetened cereal
  • Whole Grain Pasta for Enriched Pasta
  • Whole Grain crackers and pita chips for
  • Plain popcorn for buttered, seasoned popcorn

CHEF Tip: Add chili powder or Cinnamon for great flavor without salt!

Fruits and Veggies: Yes we CAN!

Canned fruits and vegetables have a longer shelf life and tend to be lower in cost than fresh fruits and vegetables. BUT – watch out for added sugar in canned fruits and added sodium in canned vegetables and beans. Too much sodium (salt) can lead to high blood pressure, which is a leading cause of Heart Disease. Be sure to check the label and look for “No Sodium Added.” Try rinsing and draining canned foods to remove some of the extra sodium or undesirable ingredients added during the canning process.

Healthy Swaps:

  • Fruit canned in juice for Fruit canned in Syrup
  • “No Sodium Added” Vegetables for regular canned vegetables

Protein Power

Beans, Nuts, and seeds, are a great source of plant-based protein and they have a long shelf life. Buying canned beans with a “No Sodium Added” label is a great way to limit the amount of sodium you eat. You can also rinse the beans the remove excess sodium.

Try choosing nuts and seeds without added salt or sugar. There are many options to choose from including walnuts, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. You may store nuts and seeds in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life.

Healthy Swaps:

  • “No Sodium Added” Canned beans for regular canned beans
  • Dried Beans for Pre-seasoned beans
  • Unseasoned nuts – no salt or sugar added for raw nuts and seeds

Rethink your Drink

Drinking 8 cups of water each day may sound like a difficult task, but there are many fun ways to rethink your drink. Try these healthy swaps to decrease the amount of added sugar you eat each week!

Healthy Swaps:

  • Bottled water or sugar-free drinks for sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Infused water with fresh fruits and herbs instead of “fruit drinks.”

Spice It Up!

There are lots of ways to flavor your food without adding salt. Dried spices are a great way to flavor your food without relying on too much sodium, sugar or fats. You may use other flavoring agents such as citrus juice, fresh & dried herbs, and fresh aromatic vegetables such as onion, garlic, celery, and green onions.

Healthy Swaps:

  • Dried herbs & spices for salt
  • Garlic powder for garlic salt
  • Dried spices without added sodium vs. spice blends with MSG (monosodium glutamate) or added sodium.
  • Rely on fresh aromatics to add flavor, nutrients, and dietary fiber to meals!

Top it off!

Use oils, vinegars and better-for-you condiments instead of condiments with added sugar, salt, and high in fat.

Healthy Swaps:

  • Swap olive or canola oil for Crisco and other fats that are solid at room temperature
  • Vinegars such as balsamic for high-fat salad dressings
  • Make your own vinaigrette vs. store-bought vinaigrettes. Homemade vinaigrettes are inexpensive and free of preservatives, check out our CHEF salad dressing recipe!

These simple swaps can make a huge impact to help you eat healthy foods all year long!