It’s one thing to feed ourselves simple, healthy gluten free food, but it’s a whole other ballgame to feed our kids this way, especially when they are hungry, growing, athletic teenagers. It is a challenge to feed them energizing nutrient dense real food that they will actually like, and then we also have to consider that kids want to feel “normal” and take snacks that somewhat resemble what their friends are eating. No homemade hemp and flax bars…please pleeeeeeease mom.
My daughter Kayley is 13, and volleyball is her thing. She had a two-day tournament recently, and I was assigned the duty of snack mom. (Yes, she shuttered and held her breath as I planned what to pack in their bags.) During these tournaments, the girls are not allowed to leave the facility. Even though we do our best to bring them all filled up with good nutrition, after playing a couple hours, they are STARVING.
Volleyball is a big business here in Texas, so pretty much every facility has a snack bar for the hungry girls. Some of the snack bars have a few healthy options, but honestly, I wouldn’t even call what the girls choose to eat real food. What exactly is in that nacho cheese? The snack bar is not even an option with Kayley’s coach, as she is really in to nutrition and what her players eat. Her first words to them after tryouts were to start watching their sugar intake and cutting out soda. Before their first tournament, she spent part of practice going over game day nutrition, and when she takes them to eat before tournaments – no cokes, and no fries.
Kayley is 13, and just like most 13 year olds, she wants to eat food that will build her body up so she can play well throughout the day, but what kind of healthy snacks will fuel her to do that? Add in the fact that she wants what all kids her age like – pre-packaged (in other words, not health freak homemade) snacks. Are there any packaged foods that this anti-Cheetos mom approves?
What should I pack in these snack bags for her team that provides them with some nutrition in a form the girls will like and won’t embarrass my daughter? What would you put in them?
This is what I came up with…
Child athletes use carbohydrates at a rapid pace, as being young, growing, and very active calls for large amounts of quick expending energy. They need pre-game fuel and post-game fuel. But, they also need endurance, so the kind of carbohydrates as well as the other nutrients that goes with it matters.
Wheat and sugar carbohydrates break down and are absorbed very quickly, especially when they are eaten alone or together. When kids eat these high glycemic foods, their blood sugar spikes and they can work the court really well, but half way through the game, their blood sugar plummets, and they have trouble focusing and having the strength and energy to make it through.
I chose gluten free carbohydrate sources that are natural and deliver sugar to their bodies at a gentler pace. The foods I chose naturally contain fiber, or I paired them with other healthy foods that contain protein, fat, and fiber. Fiber, protein, and fat slow down the absorption of carbohydrates because they take longer to break down, which results in a slower trickling of energy into their bodies. Plus, protein and fat provide a stable longer lasting energy source than straight up carbohydrates and are needed for their bodies to maintain strength and stamina throughout the day.
1. Even though kids love packaged foods, I am not a big fan. So I included several naturally packaged foods like fruit: Clementine oranges, bananas, and apples. Fruit provides a good carbohydrate source trapped in fiber with needed electrolytes too.
2. Kids love packaged foods that crunch. So I included Glutino gluten free pretzels and cheese to go with them – gluten free carbohydrates with a little protein and fat. I could have also thrown in packs of Justin’s flavored almond, peanut, or hazelnut butter or individual hummus cups for pretzel dipping too.
3. Kayley helped me by making a trail mix that included her favorite Marcona almonds and raisins. Again, protein, fat, carbs, and fiber included in this naturally sweet and salty combo. The options for trailmixes are endless and energy boosting – gluten free cereals, pretzels, popcorn, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, coconut…
4. We threw in Mrs. May’s nut clusters and Larabars too. Both of these options have very few ingredients on the label and are gently sweetened with natural sweeteners. Another favorite of ours is KIND granola bars.
Providing healthy snacks for a team can be expensive! Costco has all of these items except the Glutino pretzels. Since I was in charge of feeding the whole team, buying in bulk was the best option.
5. Another healthy snack you could include is a skewer. Although they aren’t pre-packaged, kids love colorful food lined up on a stick – presentation is everything with them. A couple of skewer options I like:
- nitrate free deli turkey cube, granny smith apple cube, cheddar cheese cube, dried apricot cube
- alternate watermelon balls and mozzarella balls
- alternate nitrate free ham cubes and pineapple cubes
- olive, cherry tomato, basil leaf, mozzarella ball
- folded slice of nitrate free salami, string cheese cube, red grape
- folded slice of nitrate free prosciutto, cantaloupe ball, mozzarella ball
6. Kids also like anything they can pick up with their fingers, so some other sweet and yummy (not pre-packaged but acceptable to my kids) well balanced nutty snacks are almond chocolate balls, peanut butter and jelly bars, chocolate pumpkin seeds, sweet and spicy pecans, and what my family calls “gutty putty“. Gutty putty has protein filled nuts, a gentle sweetener, and lots of filling fiber so kids are satisfied longer.
These are just a few ideas from my recent snack bag project. What snacks do you pack for your kids? Comment and let me know your ideas!Read More
Who doesn’t want beautiful skin? Isn’t that what we’re all going for with our nightly cleansing, toning, and moisturizing rituals? Beautiful skin starts on the inside with a healthy well balanced diet. These five delicious foods are some of my favorite ways to achieve that smooth, polished, and radiant glow.
1. Sweet potato – Grapefruit – Pineapple Juice: Fresh juice is the ultimate skin care supplement. When you drink fresh juice, the phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes are quickly absorbed into your body in their most potent form. These micronutrients are extremely sensitive to heat and oxygen. Juicing fruits and vegetables not only preserves the nutrients but also easily delivers them into your body, as the produce is “predigested.” This sweet potato – grapefruit – pineapple juice clears and renews your skin.
- 1 small sweet potato
- 1 grapefruit
- 2 spears pineapple
Sweet potatoes are full of vitamin C and beta-carotene. According to Joy Bauer, beta-carotene converts to vitamin A in the body and switches on the process of producing new skin cells and shedding the old ones, keeping your skin looking smooth and refreshed. Plus, beta-carotene eats up all of the free radicals that lead to DNA mutations and wrinkles, while also protecting from the sun’s harmful rays.
Looking for something to do with those bags of grapefruit that are in season? Grapefruit has the highest concentration of vitamin C of any citrus fruit. A good healthy dose of vitamin C boosts collagen production in the skin, leading to that youthful glow. In fact, a recent study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who ate about four milligrams of vitamin C – about half a small sweet potato – daily for three years decreased the appearance of wrinkles by 11 percent. Another phytochemical called lycopene (the same one that is in tomatoes) also takes care of free radicals that cause our skin to age and wrinkle. Grapefruit juice can be applied directly to the skin: mix grapefruit juice, sugar, and coconut oil to make a homemade facial scrub.
Pineapple has a good dose of vitamin C, but it also has enzymes that help skin elasticity, keep your skin hydrated, and remove dead and damaged skin cells. Bromelain is an enzyme in pineapple that works to slough off your old skin cells to improve dullness and dryness in your skin. Alpha hydroxy acid is also in pineapple, which you may recognize as an ingredient in many anti-wrinkle creams. It also works by eating away at your old dead skin cells, so your wrinkles and age spots diminish. Make your own exfoliant by mixing pineapple juice with a little honey and apply directly to your face for no more than five minutes.
Green tea boasts a mixture of antioxidants called catechins that fight the damaging free radicals in your body and your skin. Less damage to our skin cells means fewer wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and cancer. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of green tea also have shown to protect against the number one source of free radicals in our skin – those UV rays. The antioxidants found in green tea are the most potent kind according to WebMD.
Adding a little lemon to your green tea delivers more of the cleansing, collagen building vitamin C, which improves your skin’s texture and clears blemishes.
3. Raw Blueberry Pudding: Enjoy this indulgent way to love your skin with this simple dessert. It’s not only sweet, it’s healthy, so whip up a bowl for a quick snack. I blended the following ingredients in my Magic Bullet:
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1 avocado
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 teaspoon honey
- splash of water
Blueberries are part of the purple food group, not to be forgotten when striving to “eat a rainbow” everyday. According to The Clear Skin Diet, foods containing anthocyanins found in these purple foods are high in antioxidants and help keep the blood (and all the oxygen and nutrients that travel with it) flowing to your skin. These tasty little guys pack in the most antioxidants for their size, so make them your new favorite finger food.
Avocado oil is similar to our skin’s oil, so it promotes healthy, supple skin from the inside out according to David Wolfe in The Sunfood Diet. Avocados also work against inflammation in your skin, so they help relieve psoriasis and dermatitis and contain biotin (a B vitamin), which helps strengthen your skin. Mashed avocado or avocado oil can be directly applied to your skin for the ultimate moisturizer.
Carrots are chalked full of beta-carotene, which turns to vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A protects against free radicals and also the sun’s rays to fight wrinkles and aging in your skin.
Watermelons provide a delicious and refreshing way to hydrate your body and your skin. Beautiful skin starts with hydration – drinking twice your body weight in water is the first step in your skin care regimen. Not only does watermelon help to hydrate your glowing pink cheeks, but this favorite summer treat also contains a good amount of vitamins A and C and lycopene.
5. Barlean’s Fish Oil: Want a tasty way to down your fish oil? Try one of the flavored fish oils by Barlean’s – orange cream, pina colada, or mango peach. Drizzle a tablespoon or two over Greek yogurt or in your smoothies for a sweet flavor that’s both yummy and healthy.
According to Joy Bauer, omega 3 fatty acids that are found in fish oil help the cell membranes of your skin cells be a strong barrier to toxins but allow water and nutrients inside, resulting in nice plump skin cells and fewer wrinkles. Omega 3s also fight inflammation, so they help prevent acne breakouts, redness, and irritation.
When your skin is healthy, it is a good sign that your whole body is healthy. Your body’s largest organ, the skin, gives the first clues that something might not be right inside. When you feed your body a well balanced diet, majoring in fruits and vegetables, you are nourishing a healthy body inside. The result is a beautiful you on the outside too, just one of the many benefits of a simple, healthy diet.