Summertime is in full effect, and with many kids at home, it is important for them to maintain healthy eating routines. Summer is the perfect time to pack our meals full of vegetables and fruits, as many of them are in season this time of year. Fruits and vegetables are essential to our diet because they are packed with a myriad of nutrients our bodies need to maintain our health and wellbeing. A few examples of nutritious fruits and vegetables that are in season throughout June and July include bell peppers, blackberries, corn, cucumbers, cherries, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini and summer squash.
Kids also like to eat things they can carry with them outside, and many fruit and vegetables are easy to eat on-the-go.
Although vegetables are plentiful and often less expensive this time of year, many of us still have picky eaters at home. There are several tricks of the trade to sneak in added vegetables to some of the family’s favorite meals. For instance, when preparing spaghetti, chop up fresh tomatoes, green peppers, squash and zucchini, and add them into the sauce. Other great ways to serve fruit and veggies include:
- Serve hummus or homemade ranch dip with peppers, carrots, or celery
- Cube cool, fresh melon
- Make zucchini bread or muffins
- Add berries or cucumber to water
This time of year is also an ideal time for grilling. Grilling protein and/or vegetables, as opposed to frying food, is an excellent way to make your meals leaner and healthier. Since kids spend most of the day outside during the summer, grilling grass-fed beef and chicken or local seafood can help them refuel with fresh, lean proteins. Kebobs are a great way to mix protein and summer veggies while also giving kids something they can eat with their hands. However, it is important to be mindful of the nutrition facts and ingredients in the marinades and seasonings we use when grilling foods—avoid those that are high in sodium, sugar and/or fat.
Making sure you eat proper portions and include the right variety of foods in your diet can be difficult, and often, the guidance of a dietitian can get people on the right track. Cone Health has an exceptional network of registered dietitians dedicated to helping patients develop and maintain healthy, balanced diets that work for them and fit into their lifestyles.
Margaret “Maggie” May is the diabetes coordinator at Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center. Maggie is a registered dietician nurse, and Certified Diabetes Educator. She earned a Master of Science in nursing in 1982 and a Master of Science in nutrition in 1998 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.