August 7, 2009
Issue #020


Cool Summer Recipes

Cool Your Kids Down While You Fill Them Up With Something Healthy!

Does summer seem to be dragging on and on? The days are long and hot - days filled with swimming, baseball, and all kinds of fun activities for the kids. All this heat combined with the extra activity and exercise makes young kids very hungry and thirsty! So what’s a parent to do and how can you cool your kids down and fill them up with something healthy at the same time?

Here are a few tips to get you started.

Eat light and eat often. In hot weather kids tend to have a decreased appetite. Big meals also weigh kids down and make them feel slow and lethargic. So eating light and eating often is the key. Smaller meals and light snacks work well in the hot weather. Resist the temptation to buy fast food and junk food when you’re on the go by planning ahead.

If you’re going out or spending the day at the pool, think ahead and pack up some healthy food for the kids. Finger foods work well. Pack finger sandwiches in one container, raw veggies with dip in another container, and chopped up fruit in another container. Hunger comes in waves, so have a container ready for every couple of hours. Pack it all up in a cooler but avoid packing milk products in the heat.

Drink lots and stay hydrated. All the heat and activity means kids sweat a lot. Keeping kids hydrated is very important in the summer months. Water is the best thirst quencher. Make water more interesting by adding an orange or lime slice - or a little cherry or cranberry juice. Serve freshly squeezed lemonade with fresh mint. Avoid too many sugary drinks and stay away from carbonated drinks. Again, remember to pack plenty of water in your cooler when you’re going out. Have your kids drink some water every hour when they’re exercising. They’ll be sure to forget how thirsty they are and it’s up to you to remind them.
Click here for cold drink recipes.

Get creative and get kids involved. The best summer recipes are simple recipes. This is a great opportunity for kids to have fun, be creative, and get involved. Little tasks such as choosing the ingredients, rinsing fruit, and chopping with a table knife can give kids the satisfaction of helping out in the kitchen. When kids get involved in preparing food, they are much more enthusiastic about eating it! Get out those cookie cutters and make interesting shapes with sandwiches and fruit. Smear carrots and celery with pimento cheese. Serve strawberries with dollops of whipped cream.

Here are a few ideas to beat the summer heat and fill up those tummies:

Stay cool with smoothies - Smoothies are a great way to fill kids up with healthy fruit and yogurt and quench little thirsts at the same time. Add cereal, nuts, and natural sweeteners such as honey and malt. It’s easy to make up a smoothie for breakfast or for a delicious afternoon snack.
Click here for healthy smoothie recipes.

Fun on a stick with homemade popsicles – Most packaged popsicles are full of sugar, artificial colors and flavors. Why not make your own popsicles at night, ready to eat the next day. Buy plastic popsicle molds and plenty of seasonal fruit, fruit juice, ice cream, and yogurt. You’re only limited by your imagination!
Click here for cool popsicle recipes.

Freeze hunger with frozen fruit – Frozen fruit is a cool and filling option. Freeze grapes, bananas, strawberries, watermelon balls, and pineapple rings and serve as a frozen treat. Dip fruit in yogurt or melted chocolate, place on a popsicle stick, freeze and serve. Add crushed fruit to your ice trays and serve fruity ice cubes. Blend fresh fruit in a blender, pour into a plastic cup and freeze. Serve slightly melted as a slushy drink.

Be cool with “no bake” treats – Make desserts that don’t even need baking. Gooey, chewy treats are quick and easy. You never even have to turn on your oven.
Click here for awesome "no bake" recipes.

Fill them up with healthy grilling – Another way to keep the heat out of the kitchen is to fire up the grill at the end of a long, hot day. The kids are starving and you need to cook in a hurry. Marinate chicken, beef, pork, and lamb pieces overnight. Skewer up the meat and cook on the grill. You can also skewer vegetables like onions, mushrooms, and green peppers for a healthy and easy meal kids will love.

Here's a quick grill recipe:

Punchy Pineapple Marinated Grilled Chicken Strips

1 pound chicken strips
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple and juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 clove garlic, minced

In a small saucepan mix together pineapple juice, crushed pineapple, soy sauce, and honey over low heat until honey dissolves. Place chicken strips in a bowl and pour marinade over chicken to coat.

Refrigerate for six hours. Place strips on skewers and grill on barbecue.

If you have any great summer recipes or ideas to cool kids down, please share your ideas.


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So enjoy the last days of summer, have fun in the sun and keep the kids cool and full. Happy Kid Cooking!

Clarissa the Mom Chef
Easy Kids Recipes

You can find this article and other advice from experts on parenting on the PBS Kids Sprout for Parents blog.