Q: I understand that, according to the USDA, children need up to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. I'd like to offer more fruits and vegetables to the children in my class at snack time. Are some more important than others?
A: Try to focus on non-starchy vegetables-the more colorful the better. Leafy greens like spinach and collard greens should be eaten as much as possible, as should brightly colored vegetables like zucchini, broccoli, or red and yellow peppers. Starchy vegetables like corn, peas, and root vegetables like potatoes are closer to grains in nutritional quality and should be eaten in moderation. Fruits are very healthy overall, but thanks to their high sugar content they should be kept to two to three servings per day.
Remember: Carrots, pepper strips, and other veggies are great with an avocado dip as a snack.
SHINE 'ER UP!
Give children the opportunity to stretch and bend by shining up outdoor play equipment. As you pull out the trikes, ride-on toys, and wagons for some spring weather fun, let children pitch in by giving the vehicles a shine. Offer children their own rags, both damp and dry, that they can use to clean the equipment.
HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN "FITNESS" to young children? You can share with them that a fit person is someone with a body that's in good condition. Explain that staying fit helps you stay strong and healthy.
WE RECOMMEND ...
> http://www2.nccic.org/fitsource/ for a Web directory specifically for teachers that offers activities, lesson plans, snack ideas, and more, and is searchable by age group.
> http://www.pecentral.org/preschool/preschoolindex.html for ideas on activity plans, how to make movement equipment, and resources.
Temperate fruit varieties (including apples, pears, peaches, and berries), have lots of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Tropical fruits (bananas, papayas, mangos) are relatively higher in calories and lower in fiber and nutrition, and so should be served in moderation.
SNACK OF THE MONTH
Tropical Blast Smoothie
All you need is fruit and a blender to whip up a fresh fruit snacktime smoothie. Just put all the ingredients below in a blender and whiz on high until smooth:
- 1 banana
- 2 kiwi fruit (peeled)
- ½ cup peeled and diced mango
- ½ cup peeled and diced papaya
- 1 cup orange juice
- 3 ice cubes
- makes two to three serving