Obesity is a rising problem among children, with more than one-third of U.S. children overweight, according to the Surgeon General’s office. Children don’t worry about adult health issues like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol. But by getting kids started early on a healthy, low-fat diet, you can help them control their weight and avoid those and other health problems as they get older.
Kids love pizza, but sausage and pepperoni cause the saturated fat and cholesterol content to soar. Replace meat toppings with carmelized veggies. Preheat veggies in the microwave or saute them before putting them on the pizza and baking the pie. Use low-fat cheese to reduce fat further. Serve pizza with a low-fat soup or a salad with low-fat dressing to keep your child from reaching for an extra slice of pizza. Serve a dessert like sherbet, frozen yogurt or angel food cake.
Let your kids create their own tacos and burritos with healthy, low-fat ingredients. Use just a little of the leanest ground beef for flavoring, or use ground turkey breast or shredded chicken breast. Make sure you use breast meat to keep things low-fat. Provide plenty of veggie options to fill the tortillas, such as shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, peppers and onions. Serve low-fact condiments such as salsa and low-fat sour cream. While guacamole is considered a high-fat food, it’s high in monunsaturated vegetable oil (the healthy fat!) from the avacados. Add sides of Spanish rice, refried beans or black beans, which are a nutritious, high-protein meat substitute. Serve flan or another other low-fat dessert.
Reduce the fat in mac and cheese using skim milk, low-fat cheese, less butter, no eggs and monounsaturated fats like olive oil to make a casserole. Add large chunks of kids’ favorite veggies and pieces of low-fat chicken or tuna to make it an entrée. Serve with a salad and crusty bread, and finish with a low-fat dessert like ginger snaps. Leave the hamburger out of your spaghetti sauce or lasagna and substitute with large pieces of vegetables your kids like. Use a low-fat creamy dressing to make a caesar salad, and top Italian bread with roasted garlic and olive oil instead of butter or margarine. Try gelato for dessert.
Decrease the fat in this kid-friendly food by baking rather than frying your chicken. Use a wash made with skim milk rather than eggs and whole milk. Use a coating like corn flakes or panko to increase the crunchiness of the fingers. Bake on a rack to allow fat to drip away from the chicken. Don’t place the chicken on paper towels when you remove them from the oven; this will keep the fingers sitting in their own fat. Serve with sweet potato fries, also baked on a rack, rather than deep-fried French fries. Start dinner with a fat-free soup like kid-favorite tomato. Finish with a low-fat dessert like gelatin.
Other Healthy Eating Ideas…