Organic Babies & Kids

by Tracy Rohland

The last fifty years have seen an alarming increase in the variety of synthetic chemicals in our everyday environments. These chemicals have inundated our food supply, personal care products, clothing, housewares, as well as the foods and products that we give to our children. It is the effect of these chemicals on babies and children that is most pertinent to address.

In a 2002 report shown on PBS’ “NOW with Bill Moyers,” Moyers states that “most of these chemicals have never been tested for their toxic effects on children. And scientists are concerned that recent increases in childhood illnesses like asthma and cancer, as well as learning disabilities, may be related to the environment — to what kids eat, drink and breathe1.” In fact, The Environmental Protection Agency does not require chemical manufacturers to conduct human toxicity studies before approving their chemicals for use in the market. A manufacturer simply has to submit paperwork on a chemical, all the data that exists on that chemical to date, and wait 90 days for approval2.

According to Dr. Leo Trasande, assistant director of the Center for Children's Health and the Environment at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, “children up to six years old are most at risk because their vital organs and immune system are still developing and because they depend more heavily on their environments than adults do (2).” For this reason, it is important for adults to be aware of the products and substances that their infants and children are exposed to.

The majority of baby products on the market today are filled with preservatives, dyes and artificial flavoring. Furthermore, very few of them are organic, so even if a product has natural ingredients, they are most likely tainted with toxins. This includes not only food, but creams and soaps that are readily absorbed into their gentle skin, plastic toys they play with as well as the carpets and couches on which they lay. The environment is filled with virtually unavoidable chemical toxins.

As a parent, the health of your baby is always a concern. It is clearly not practical to eliminate all environmental toxins surrounding our babies, but we can at least make efforts to reduce their exposure.

Fortunately, there are more and more products being produced these days with organic consumers in mind. Down to Earth carries a wide variety of organic, all natural baby products. We also carry natural detergents and cleaning products so you can reduce the toxins in babies clothing and around the home. Any small steps you can take to reduce the amount of toxins your baby is exposed to can make a difference in the health of their delicate bodies and minds.

Footnotes: 
  1. NOW, with Bill Moyers. “Kids and Chemicals”
    http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript117_full.html
  2. “Tests reveal high chemical levels in kids' bodies”
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/10/22/body.burden/#cnnSTCText

AINA In Schools: Creating Lifelong Environmental Stewardship

by Michele McKay

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our kids could really connect with the earth in a meaningful and lasting way? If school programs could help them form a lifelong appreciation and caring for Hawaii’s environment? If planting, growing, harvesting, and eating fresh, local produce could teach them about good nutrition, healthy choices, and where food comes from? If school cafeterias could be a market for local farmers so that fresh, local crops could end up as wholesome school lunches? This may sound utopian, but it’s happening right now, right here in our islands, through the Kokua Hawaii Foundation’s farm-to-school program, AINA in Schools (Actively Integrating Nutrition and Agriculture In Schools, or AINA IS).

Dedicated to connecting children with their land, water, and food in order to grow a healthier future for Hawaii, AINA IS believes “…our keiki are the seeds of change to preserving and protecting our beautiful islands.” Toward this end, the program promotes:

  • Hands-on nutrition education in the classroom
  • Garden-based learning
  • Agricultural field trips
  • Healthy food on campus, featuring locally grown produce
  • Reducing, reusing and recycling the waste in gardens, cafeterias, and classrooms
  • Family and community outreach

Kokua Hawaii Foundation’s mission is to provide students with exciting and interactive encounters that will enhance their appreciation for and understanding of their environment… but who knows? An enthusiasm for environmental stewardship and healthy living may also infect parents, siblings, and extended family members as well!

What you can do:

  • The Kokua Hawaii Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports environmental education in the schools and communities of Hawaii. Visit www.kokuahawaiifoundation.org/schoolprograms/ to learn more about the AINA IS program and to view a slide show of recent projects. Click on ‘Farm to School Resources’ for additional local and national resources for schools and families. For information, email info@kokuahawaiifoundation.org or call 638-5145.
  • AINA IS needs volunteers to help with garden and nutrition lessons, and the program is looking for farmers to host field trips, speak to classes, or offer their local produce as a school menu option. Training is provided! For volunteer information, email volunteer@kokuahawaiifoundation.org.

Childhood Obesity

by Angie Smith

The plump, reddish cheeks and fat fingers of babies and toddlers are sure to charm anyone. Certainly, nobody wants to have a bony baby. At a child's baby stage, plump is not uncommon, but when a child adds more weight than is proportionate to his height, it may be time to worry about obesity. After all, not all kids lose their "baby fat" automatically.

Simply put, obesity is an excessive amount of body fat. This condition leads to various health problems including diabetes, arthritis, cancer, respiratory problems and cardio-vascular disease, which can affect a child's health as they grow. My cute little cousin kept getting fatter until he became obese. Despite two heart attacks at an early age, his diet and eating habits did not change. He died at 15. This story is becoming more common as the number of obese children increases.

Childhood obesity not only leads to increased risk of physical problems and adult obesity, but it also takes an emotional toll as well. Obese children are subject to teasing and can be socially isolated by their peers. This is detrimental to their self-image and can lead to an increased consumption of food to try and lessen the pain.

It is important to help a child develop good eating habits from the start. It has been shown that a child's eating habits are directly affected by his emotional state and his relationship with his parents. Parents need to take the time to involve themselves in helping their children make healthy lifestyle decisions, even during the toddler years.

A diet that promotes normal body weight includes fresh fruit, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. Even snacks can be highly nutritious and tasty as well. So, parents should encourage their children to eat less high-fat and high-sugar foods. They should be sure to have healthy substitutes like fresh juices, fruit, baked chips, whole grain crackers, and vegetables for their children to eat.

Parents should also remember that their own habits can have a great impact on their children. If the mother or father is constantly snacking or spends many hours watching TV, this will have a large impact on how the child decides to live their life because children often emulate their parents. So, children should be encouraged to spend more time outdoors playing ball games or riding bicycles. The more active a child is, the less likely he is to become obese.

Everyone should remember that kids need to grow. Their diets should not be restricted so much that it will be deficient in necessary nutrients or energy for proper growth and development. Low-fat diets are not usually the best for kids because fat is a source of energy for the body, but it is best to choose foods that contain unsaturated fat, like avocados, nuts and seeds, as opposed to the saturated fat in meat and dairy.

If you suspect your child is obese take him to a doctor to measure his body mass index (BMI). Should this show he has more fat than necessary, get professional help to safely get him back to his normal weight. Be supportive and help your kids have a realistic expectation of their bodies and themselves.

Organics Rid Your Body of Pesticides, Study Shows

Common sense suggests that fruits and vegetables grown without the use of hazardous pesticides and insecticides are safer to eat. This is particularly true of organic produce, which is grown without using conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.

While this is a very important point of differentiation with conventional produce, it is one of the least understood and most important considerations in choosing healthy food. A recent study published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science shows why parents should be concerned about this difference.

The peer-reviewed study found that the urine and saliva of children eating a variety of conventional foods from their local grocery stores contained traces of organophosphates (this is the family of pesticides derived from nerve gas agents created in World War II—including malathion and chlorpyrifos). According to Chensheng Lu, the principle author of the study, "It is appropriate to assume that if we are exposed to (this class of) pesticides, even though it's a low-level exposure on a daily basis, there are going to be some health concerns down the road."

In light of this study, it is undeniable that organic produce is a safer choice. When the same children ate organic fruits, vegetables and juices, signs of pesticides were not found. And when switching from conventional food to organic, the pesticides that were previously measured in the urine disappeared within 36 hours. Not surprisingly, the pesticide levels immediately returned when the children went back to the conventional diets.

While the EPA insists that "dietary exposures from eating food crops treated with chlorpyrifos are below the level of concern for the entire U.S. population, including infants and children," others beg to differ. Chuck Benbrook, (chief scientist of the Organic Center, a nationwide, nonprofit, food research organization) says that this statement by the EPA is simply "not supported by science.” Pointing to “the almost daily reminders that children are suffering from an array of behavioral, learning, neurological problems,” he questions, “doesn't it make sense to eliminate exposures to chemicals known to trigger such outcomes like chlorpyrifos?"

So what’s the solution? The gut reaction of some parents might be to limit the consumption of fresh produce, but that would be a big mistake. According to Lu, “It is vital for children to consume significantly more fresh fruits and vegetables than is commonly the case today." While it may not be practical for some people to switch to a 100% organic diet, parents should at least avoid conventional produce with high levels of pesticide residue (peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, strawberries and cherries are among those that most frequently have detectable levels of pesticides).

For over 30 years, Down to Earth has been offering our customers a wide selection of organic and locally grown, fresh produce. While many of you already know that organic foods are safer, tastier and more nutritious (not to mention better for the environment), we hope that you’ll share this information with your family and friends.

At the end of the day, most people are very sensitive to the safety of the food they and their families eat and want to be confident that the food they consume is wholesome and will cause no harm. Going “organic” is an important step in the right direction, and they will appreciate information to help make healthy choices.

Aloha!

Raising A Healthy Vegetarian Child

Not long ago in our society, a person who did not eat meat may have felt like a complete outcast. Well things are finally changing for vegetarians, even to the point of government recognition. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 states that “vegetarians of all types can achieve recommended nutrient intake.” Still, although vegetarianism is becoming more widely accepted by society, families raising their children with vegetarian ideals may encounter opposition or ridicule from others. Unfortunately, the vision of the typical vegetarian child as thin, weak, and anemic remains a common perception in the minds of those who have not accepted the meatless diet as a sustainable one for raising healthy children.

Fortunately, the negative stereotype is far from accurate. A study by the Department of Community and Family Medicine at the University of California at San Diego found that children on a vegetarian diet actually grew taller than meat-eating children. Other studies such as the Tennessee “Farm Study” (by The Center for Disease Control, 1989) and the China Health Study (by Dr. T. Colin Campbell) uphold the fact that vegetarian children reflect the same standard growth patterns as meat-eating children, sometimes exceeding the average build.

In regard to diet, the primary nutrition concerns are the same regardless of whether the child eats meat or does not eat meat. A child’s health is completely in the hands of his or her parents so it is the adult’s responsibility to make sure the child receives adequate amounts of all nutrients, especially protein, iron, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, and calcium.

Protein is always the first thing that a meat-eater assumes vegetarians are lacking. This is simply due to a lack of knowledge. High quality protein is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, dairy, and even many vegetables. Sprouting and soaking beans, nuts and seeds produces an even higher quality protein. Eating a combination of protein foods throughout the day ensures that your child will get a complete protein. There are misconceptions about the amount of protein a child needs - meat is clearly not a necessity for assuring adequate protein. The average ten year old needs only about 28 grams a day. When a child eats a variety of foods throughout the day, a protein deficiency is highly unlikely.

Calcium is easily attained from dairy products. Young children should always be given whole milk rather than low fat or skimmed milks, which lack the fat soluble vitamins A and D. If dairy is undesirable for any reason, most soy and nut milks are fortified with Calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B-12. Other sources of calcium include tofu, dark green leafy vegetables, bok choy, broccoli, beans, figs, sunflower seeds, tahini, and almonds.

Vitamin D is manufactured naturally in the body with moderate sun exposure and is present in milk and fortified products. If you live in an area that receives very little sun, a vitamin D supplement may be a good idea for your child. While it is healthy to allow some exposure to the sun, always be conscious of how much sun your little one is getting. Keep his/her sensitive skin covered during prolonged exposure.

Vitamin B-12 is important for vegetarians and is found in dairy products, and in small amounts in yeast, tempeh, and mushrooms. Nutritional yeast is a great source of all the B vitamins and can be added to many dishes for a cheesy, nutty flavor that kids love.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in America, affecting vegetarian and meat-eating children alike. Iron is found in dried fruits, soy products, broccoli, beans and nuts. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption, so it is beneficial to serve vitamin-C-rich foods or take vitamins C supplement along with iron-containing food. Some symptoms of iron deficiency include lack of energy, pale skin in the lining of the eyes, gums, and nails, rapid and forceful heartbeat, brittle hair and nails, decreased appetite, and disturbed sleep. If you suspect your child has an iron deficiency, see a doctor and investigate supplements. The Down To Earth Wellness department staff can help you find the supplements you need.

In addition to nutritional concerns, many parents worry about the influence of other children upon the self-esteem of their own youngster. Your child will realize at some point that his diet is different from that of his peers and he may encounter criticism from friends and possibly even adults. However, more often than not, a vegetarian diet is generally accepted in most parts of the country. You might remember having difficult experiences standing by your veggie values in your life; chances are it will be easier for your child growing up vegetarian in today’s world. In light of the rise in childhood obesity, heart disease and diabetes, a vegetarian diet is certainly not to be shunned. Still, it is important to educate your child on the reasons for his vegetarian diet. It is not difficult for a child to understand the cruelty of killing animals for food or the importance of maintaining a healthy body. Explain to him that other people may eat differently, but that it is important for him to be confident with his diet.

Raising your child vegetarian is an intelligent decision that will establish good eating habits for the rest of his or her life. If your child learns to enjoy a variety of vegetarian foods early in life and is allowed only a minimal amount of refined sugar, they will naturally be attracted to healthful foods later in life. In this way, you are helping your child avoid chronic health problems and encouraging him or her to be a responsible, caring, and compassionate person.

Healthy and Nutritious School Snacks

Photo: Girl Smiling and Eating an Apple

by Manjari Fergusson

With most kids back in school this month, it’s the perfect time to get inspired with new snack ideas! The importance of healthy snacking is huge, as it helps balance blood sugar levels, provides lasting energy, and ensures good nourishment for you and your growing children.

Yummy, healthy snacks help keep kids from eating too many empty calories, usually in the form of sugary drinks, sweets and candies, chips, and cookies. This goes a long way in preventing childhood obesity and diabetes, which are increasing problems here in the U.S.

Snacks are also important because many children don’t eat all of their lunch, leaving behind half of what they are served. This means they are very hungry by the time they get home, making them vulnerable to unwholesome snacking if given the opportunity.

Here is a list of healthy snack ideas to get you started:

  • Banana – This snack staple can be eaten with peanut butter or yogurt to make it more exciting.
  • Apple – Delicious on their own, apples can be even more delicious with almond butter.
  • Fruit Salad – Whatever fruits are in season at the store or farmers market! Cut them in pieces and serve chilled, with Greek yogurt.
  • Greek Yogurt – Down to Earth sells a variety of brands and flavors that are delicious on their own or mixed with fruit.
  • Dried Fruit – Down to Earth has a variety of dried fruit in the bulk bins, making an ideal snack for after school or to send with your children to school.
  • Carrots, Cucumbers, Celery, Broccoli – Any crunchy veggie can be ideal with a hummus dip or guacamole.
  • Chips & Guacamole – Whole grain corn chips dipped in homemade guacamole are mouth watering, and can be a prelude to a healthy Mexican dinner night. Salsa can also be used addition to, or in place of guacamole.
  • Crackers & Dip – Enjoy whole grain crackers with hummus or organic sour cream.
  • Trail Mix – Sold in the bulk bins, there are many different kinds that you and your kids can pick and choose from.
  • Nuts – Cashews, macadamia, almonds, pecans, peanuts, etc. Nuts are very filling and you don’t need too many to do the trick.
  • Smoothies – Whip up a smoothie with frozen organic fruit, Greek yogurt, juice or water, plus a little bit of honey.
  • Frozen Fruit – Served in a bowl with honey and almond milk, this frozen treat is surprisingly delicious and also makes a great dessert.
  • Protein, Granola or Nut Bars – There’s a wide range of bars you can choose at Down to Earth, including Kind, Cliff, Cascadian Farm, Annie’s, etc.
  • Edamame – Green soybeans are packed with protein and nutrients, and make an ideal snack.
  • Wild Friends Nut Butter Pouches – These are a great choice for kids that have allergies to peanuts, as they are produced in a facility that segregates ingredients.
  • Natures Bakery Fig Bars – These are dairy and cholesterol free, and Down to Earth also carries the gluten-free version.
  • Bare Fruit Apple Chips – Comes in a variety of flavors!
  • C2O Coconut Chips – These chips are a great source of fiber.
  • C2O Tropical Freezers – Made with real fruit, and contains no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or colors.
  • Stretch Island Fruit Leathers – These are made with real fruit and have no added sugars.
  • Fresh Apple Slices – For a time-saving snack, find fresh apple slices in the produce department at Down to Earth’s Honolulu store on S. King Street.

Tips for a Healthy School Year

Photo: Children Smiling

by Manjari Fergusson

You can help your children develop healthy habits early on that will benefit them throughout their life. Here are some tips for you to model and encourage your kids as they begin the new school year.

Breakfast of Champions

Time and again we’re told about the importance of eating breakfast. With good reason.  It turns out that it really is true. Think of it as fueling up for the day ahead. If you can start your day with a healthy breakfast, it’s easier to eat healthy the rest of the day. Especially for kids, eating breakfast is essential. A study released last year by the by non-profit group Share Our Strength’s “No Kid Hungry” campaign showed that the kids who ate breakfast attended school one and a half days more than students who skipped breakfast. Those who didn’t skip the meal also had math scores 17.5 percent higher on average, and were 20 percent more likely to graduate high school – and high school kids earn more than $10,000 a year over the earnings of dropouts.

Healthy Snacks

Not only is it important for kids to eat breakfast, but you should also take their choice of snacks into consideration when packing their lunch. Instead of chips or cookies, better options that are still yummy include snacks like granola bars, fig bars, natural fruit leather, fresh fruit, natural trail mix, natural baked chips, whole grain crackers, and veggie sticks with yogurt or a healthy salad dressing made using olive oil and non-GMO soybean or corn oil. 

Drink more Water

Make sure your child stays hydrated by sending him or her off to school with a full water bottle. If your child needs a little encouragement to drink up, a healthy way to make their water tasty would be to squeeze lemon juice into it or throw in some mint leaves (or both!). Having water with them is also a way to dissuade kids from buying sugary drinks or sodas while at school or at a convenience store; teaching kids while they’re young to stay hydrated with water will set them up with good habits for life! Down to Earth sells reusable water bottles in various sizes; the stainless steel Hydro Flask is a hot seller these days.

Keep them Physically Active

Try to enroll your kids in an after school program that involves physical activity. So many kids come home after school and become engrossed in their computers, TV, smart phones and video games. If they’re running around and playing with other kids their age in a controlled environment, not only is it good for their physical health but it will translate into all other aspects of their life too.

We wish you and your chldren a happy and healthy school year!

Footnotes: 

Share Our Strength, “The Importance of Breakfast”, Share Our Strength http://join.nokidhungry.org/site/PageNavigator/SOS/Breakfast_2013.html

Healthy Back-to-school: In the lunch box!

Photo: Girl Waiting Outside a School

by Tracy Rohland

As summer vacation winds to an end, it’s time to welcome the school year with exciting and nutritious lunches for the kids. Packing a lunch for your child allows you to have some control over what he or she is eating at school and keeps your child from having to buy school lunches. Typical school-bought lunches are meat-based and loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, as well as refined sugars, flours, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. By making intelligent shopping decisions and setting aside time for preparing lunches, you can help your child to stay healthy and give him the energy and focus he needs to succeed in school. Down to Earth is a great place to start looking for tasty and healthy lunch box foods. Following are some simple lunch ideas as well as a few suggestions of products to check out:

  • A sandwich is a great staple of any lunch. This chart lists some alternative ingredients that can make the typical sandwich more nutritious.
    Instead of... Use...
    White bread Sprouted grain or whole wheat bread
    Lunch meat Vegetarian lunch meat (not only is it free of animal products and high in protein, it is also lower in fat than typical lunch meat and does not contain preservatives and fillers)
    Processed cheese slice Natural cheese slice or cream cheese
    A leaf of iceberg lettuce Many leaves of a variety of lettuces (especially the dark greens), plus sprouts and tomatoes
    Mayonnaise Vegenaise (lower in fat, zero cholesterol)
    Salt Salt-free seasoning and nutritional yeast (a great vegetarian source of B-vitamins)
    • Other options include:
      • Avocado sandwich
      • Nut butter (non-hydrogenated) & Jelly (naturally sweetened with fruit only)
      • Tofu Pattie (pan-fried and seasoned) sandwich
      • Veggie burger
      • Veggie dog
  • For a main course beyond the sandwich realm, try getting creative with a veggie-hummus wrap. Rebecca from Stanford Wellsphere suggests this recipe: Smear hummus on a small wheat tortilla and add shredded lettuce, cucumber sticks, and any other veggies your kid likes and roll it up. Serve one or two, depending on your kid’s appetite.
  • Always include a fruit and make it easy to eat. Wash all fruit, pre-cut or peel oranges, and slice apples. If you drizzle lemon juice over the apple slices it will keep them from turning brown. Santa Cruz Organic Apple Sauce comes in a handy single-serving container. Dried fruit is handy too; Try Stretch Island Fruit Co. Fruit Leather, available in a variety of real-fruit flavors.
  • Include as many vegetables as possible. Carrot sticks (try Organic Bunny-Luv Baby Carrots) and celery are always good options, but don’t be afraid to try broccoli, snap peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, or green peas. If your child is resistant to veggies, including a sauce or dip will sometimes do the trick. Nut butters, eggless ranch or cream cheese are good ideas.
  • Yogurt is a handy lunch addition, but make sure it is all-natural; many mainstream varieties of yogurt are filled with refined sugar, gelatin, and artificial colors and flavors. Down to Earth carries Stonyfield, Brown Cow, and Cascade Fresh Yogurt in 6 oz containers.
  • As an alternative to greasy chips, look for baked varieties, whole grain varieties, soy crisps or rice cakes. Try Lundberg Rice Cakes, Hain Mini Munchies Mini Rice Snacks or Sensible Foods Dried Crunch Snacks.
  • Mainstream granola bars usually include ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Trade them in for healthier varieties such as EnviroKidz Organic Crispy Rice Bars, Barbara’s Crunch Organic Granola Bars, and Cascadian Farms Granola Bars.
  • Make your own one-of-a-kind snack mix using ingredients from our bulk bins. It’s economical and you can let your kids help create the mix!
  • Pack organic foods including milk and juice as much as possible. Shop DTE for Horizon Organic Reduced Fat Milk and Organic Valley 1% Milk in individual septic containers. DTE also carries lunch-size packs of Soy and Rice Dream drinks.
  • If you pack a juice box, make sure it is 100% juice. We like Hansen’s Natural Juice Squeeze, Santa Cruz juice boxes, or better yet, coconut water! Of course, plain water should always be included.
  • For a healthier dessert, try some all-natural cookies like New Morning Graham-Wiches or Barbara’s Snackimals.

The habits your child develops now will stick with him for the rest of his life. Consistently packing a well-rounded, healthy lunch for your children (or yourself or your spouse) is a big step toward influencing your family’s health in a positive way. To make it easier for you to shop, we have compiled a list items to help you when shopping for your lunch box additions (note this is not a comprehensive list, but some sample suggestions):

Snacks & Cookies

  • Stretch Island Fruit Co. Fruit Leather
  • Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks
  • Barbara’s Snackimals
  • New Morning Graham-Wiches
  • Lundberg Rice Cakes
  • Hain Mini Munchies Mini Rice Snacks
  • Sensible Foods Dried Crunch Snacks
  • Kashi TLC Crackers

Apple Sauce

  • Santa Cruz Organic Apple Sauce

Milk, Soy, & Rice Milk

  • Rice & Soy Dream
  • Horizon Organic Reduced Fat Milk
  • Organic Valley 1% milk

Juice

  • Hansen’s Natural Juice Squeeze

String Cheese

  • Organic Valley Stringles

Yogurt

  • Stoneyfield Organic Yogurt
  • Brown Cow Yogurt
  • Cascade Fresh Yogurt

Granola Bars

  • EnviroKidz Organic Crispy Rice Bars
  • Barbara’s Crunch Organic Granola Bars
  • Cascadian Farms Granola Bars

Cereal

  • Cascade Farms Purely O’s
  • Barbara’s Wild Puffs

Produce

  • Organic Bunny-Luv Baby Carrots
  • Organic Fuji apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, plums, etc.

Bulk

  • Dried fruits, nuts, granola, and trail mix

Healthy Kid Meals

When steering your children to a healthy lifestyle, it can be difficult to decide what to feed them. So, here are a few ideas for preparing tasty and healthy treats your kids will love! Try these ideas for school lunches:

Sandwiches

  • Cheese sandwich in cookie-cutter shapes
  • Cheese and tomato on whole grain hamburger bun
  • Mini bagel with cream cheese
  • Avocado, lettuce, tomato, and sprouts on whole grain bread
  • Gardenburger with all the trimmings
  • Baked tofu (comes in teriyaki, savory, etc) with tomato and lettuce
  • Veggie hot dog
  • Bean/cream cheese/tofu spread sandwich
  • Good old peanut butter and jelly (or honey)
  • Almond butter and jelly

Hot food (in a Thermos)

  • Soup – many to choose from! How about cream of tomato soup with brown rice?
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Pasta primavera
  • Fried rice with chopped veggies
  • Baked potato or sweet potato
  • Baked beans with tofu dogs
  • Veggie corn dogs
  • Quesadillas
  • Corn on the Cob

Cold food

  • Pasta salad or three-bean salad
  • Baby carrots, celery, broccoli, red/green pepper strips with dip
  • Crackers with cheese, cream cheese, or peanut butter
  • Tabouli with finely minced veggies

Lunchbox treats

  • Dried fruit/fruit leather/raisins
  • Nuts, seeds, or trail mix
  • Oranges cut into star shapes
  • Fresh fruit: grapes, cherries, peaches, apples, pears,plums, pineapple
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Apple/apricot sauce
  • Apples with peanut butter/honey dip
  • Yogurt with real fruit mixed in
  • Healthy, whole grain cookies
  • 100% fruit juice in place of soda

Healthy Snacks for Kids

Photo: Mother Shopping with her Son

by Manjari Fergusson

Feeding kids healthy meals can be a challenge for most working parents, yet it’s crucial to ensure that kids are getting healthy snacks throughout the day in order to maintain their health, energy, schoolwork, and play.

It’s much easier for parents to instill healthy eating habits while kids are young. Luckily, it’s not hard to offer up healthy snack options such as these:

  • A bowl of fresh strawberries or even frozen fruit on a hot day.
  • Smoothies (with veggies thrown in too) as an afternoon snack when kids get home from school.
  • Fresh fruit like apples or bananas dipped in nut butters -- try almond, cashew, or peanut.
  • Whole grain crackers and veggie sticks with ranch dip (which you can make easily with ranch seasoning mixed in to plain Greek yogurt).
  • Fruit leathers, whole grain crackers, and chips that have the least amount of processing, sugar, oil, and artificial ingredients. Down to Earth carries many healthy snack products from brands like Annie’s, Barbara’s, Blue Diamond, bare, Boulder, Angie’s, dang, and Earth Balance.
  • Healthy cereals from Down to Earth (put some into a baggie, with a few nuts thrown in, for a snack if you’re in the car and hunger strikes).
  • Edamame (high in fiber and protein) can be kept handy in the freezer.
  • Fresh-made popcorn (avoid the microwave variety), with a little bit of coconut oil, nutritional yeast, and spike for flavor.

By incorporating healthy snacks into your child’s diet, you are taking a proactive approach to their health. This prevents having to take a reactive approach in the future, once the damage of unhealthy habits has taken hold.

Pages