Back to school nutrition; healthy eating tips for young kids

Nutritionists say eating balanced meal helps aid development

SAN ANTONIO – Most students walk back into school in just a few weeks. It's that time of year where parents are busy preparing their kids to go back to school. Nutritionists say what kids put on their plates is just as important for their growth and development as what is in their backpacks.

"It's really good!" the kids said as they chow down on their lunch.

It doesn’t have to be deep-fried or coated in sugar for these kids to enjoy it. On the menu today for San Antonio's Parks and Recreation's Summer Feeding Program is turkey hotdogs on a wheat bun, baked fries and a pear.

"We just put hot dog on the menu, even though it's a turkey hot dog and the kids don't notice the difference. They eat it just like they would a normal hotdog. The same with the buns -- it's a whole grain bun, so it is a healthier product for them, but they just put the mustard on it and keep on going and enjoy the meal," said Parks and Recreation Manager Lyn Kinton.

But they told us it's not just about eating healthy while away from home. School programs, as well as the city's summer feeding program, is all about educating children so they can take the nutritional facts they learn about and bring them home.

"Hired nutrition instructors that came in and taught lessons to kids in the program about nutrition, about vegetables, about fruits, about sugar content," Kinton said.

It's important parents continue those lessons at home.

"They are growing, their brains are still growing -- they still need a balance of protein and fruits and vegetables, carbohydrate sources," said nutrition consultant Linda Triesch.

Triesch said kids should be encouraged to try new foods, because you'd be surprised what healthy snacks kids like, especially when you make it fun for them.

"When you expose a child to colorful foods-they like different colors, they like different shapes."

Triesch gave KSAT 12 News some recipes to share that she said have been big hits with kids. She said a vegetable and fruit platter with a few different dips tends to really grab kids attention because it's colorful and fun to eat.

Fruit Dip (makes approximately 6 servings)
1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
1/3 to ½ cup organic peanut butter (smooth or crunchy with lowest sugar content)
1 tsp. honey, pure maple syrup or agave syrup
Stir together until well blended. Serve with fresh cut up fruit in season.

Homemade ranch-style dressing or dip (makes six servings)
2/3 cup mayonnaise made with olive oil
2/3 cup or 6 ounces plain whole milk Greek yogurt
2 tablespoon chopped fresh chives or the green tops of green onions
1 large clove garlic finely chopped
1/2   teaspoon black pepper or pepper to taste
1/2  teaspoon salt or salt to taste
Stir together until well blended. Serve with fresh cut up vegetables in season. May thin with a little milk for salad dressing.