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Get an early start to healthy eating

August 1, 2012
By ESTHER MCCOY - Food editor ( , The Herald-Star

Starting children early with eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat protein and drinking milk that is lower in fat content is one way to stay fit for life.

And the need to develop an appreciation for drinking water as a refresher, rather than sugary, soft drinks, is important. Try adding a slice of orange, lemon or lime to the glass of chilled water. Or add bits of sliced fruit to an ice cube tray and fill with water. These ice cubes are interesting to look at, and the thawed treat can be consumed in the end.

A tasty milk drink is to add four or five drops of chocolate flavoring, such as Hershey's Syrup, into an 8-ounce glass of low-fat milk and add a small amount of artificial sweetener. This can be served cold, or even with an ice cube or two, or heated up as hot chocolate.

Article Photos

Brooklyn Peters, 2, chooses fruit as a snack — a healthy choice for both young people and adults.
-- Esther McCoy

Some good snacks for after play or school include:

These are suggestions from the "Good for You Cookbook."

Snacks that are high in protein reduce hunger, increase fullness and delay the next eating occasion. Snacks should be limited to 100 or 200 calories, it was noted in a story from AARP.

To make lunches more appealing, cut the whole wheat and high protein sandwiches into interesting shapes with cookie cutters. How about a dinosaur shape for a sliced turkey sandwich?

Another way to make eating protein interesting is to layer two slices of turkey breast and a slice of cheese on a tortilla. Roll it up with a long carrot stick inside.

Some breakfast ideas are a frozen pancake, heated and spread with 1 to 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and topped with sliced banana or raisins and rolled up crepe-style.

Oatmeal swirled with applesauce and raisins is another good breakfast choice, as well as a parfait of layered fruit, yogurt, sliced fresh fruit and a favorite cereal.

And how about a blueberry whole wheat muffin spread with low-fat cream cheese or a carrot-applesauce muffin with peanut butter?

Here is a recipe for low-fat mac and cheese that has pureed carrots added to the mix. The recipe came from an older copy of the Womans Day magazine.

Low-Fat Macaroni

and Cheese

14 1/2-ounce box penne rigate pasta

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon onion powder and salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups 1 percent milk

2 jars, 4 ounces each, pureed carrot baby food

8 ounces shredded reduced-fat, extra sharp Cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs

Cook pasta as directed. Mix flour, onion powder, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan. Whisk in milk until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture boils and thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Heat broiler. Coat a 1 1/2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Stir carrots and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese into white sauce until cheese is melted. Drain pasta and return to pot. Stir in sauce. Spoon half the pasta into prepared dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining pasta, cheese and crumbs. Broil 6 to 7 minutes until lightly browned. Serves eight.

Getting a child to appreciate a salad can be done easier if it combines fruits with the lettuce mix.

This recipe is from "Favorite Foods" from Friends of the Weirton United Way. It was submitted by Jonell L. Meador of Weirton.

Spring Mix Salad

Package spring mix lettuce

1 cup strawberries, sliced

1 cup blueberries

Large can mandarin oranges, drained

Creamy poppy seed salad dressing

Clean all fruits and salad mix in cold water, except oranges. Mix all ingredients, except salad dressing. Top with the desired amount of salad dressing and toss.

This breakfast pizza might catch the eye and appetite of a child as pizza is always tops with them. It is another recipe from the "Favorite Foods" from the Friends of the Weirton United Way.

The recipe is by Donna Gialluco of Weirton, in memory of Lenora Olashuk. The quantity of sausage is cut to make it healthier.

Breakfast Pizza

Large tube crescent rolls

6 to 8 eggs, depending on side

3 tablespoons milk

1/4 pound loose sausage, browned and drained

Red and green bell peppers

8 ounces shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll crescent rolls. Press into a round pizza pan. Bake 10 minutes. Beat eggs and milk for scrambled egg mixture. Remove crust from oven and pour egg mixture over it, being careful not to have too much liquid. Add sausage and cheese. Cut peppers into strips and place on top for garnish. Bake additional 30 minutes or until crust is golden. Cut into eight or 10 slices for breakfast.

Children love chicken prepared in small pieces, such as the ones made famous by McDonald's. This recipe from the "Let's Get Cooking" book put together from the popular recipes of Helen McDiffitt of Rayland seems like it would be a child and not-so-young child-pleaser.

Pecan Crusted

Chicken Tenders

16 saltines, finely crushed

1/4 cup pecans, ground

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 egg white

Vegetable cooking spray

1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders

1/4 cup flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together crushed crackers, pecans, paprika, salt and pepper. Whisk egg white until foamy. Place a wire rack, coated with cooking spray on a parchment paper lined 15 by 10-inch jelly roll pan. Dredge chicken tenders in flour, beaten egg white and in saltine mixture. Lightly coat chicken on each side with cooking spray. Arrange pieces on the wire rack and bake at 425 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown, turning once after 12 minutes.

Raisins are always a winner for children. This recipe was in Helen McDiffitt's cookbook and contributed by Ila McHugh, who I don't think is any relation to my McHugh family.

Raisin Puffs

2 cups raisins

1 cup water

1 cup Crisco or any shortening

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Put raisins and water in a saucepan and boil. Cool and mix remaining ingredients and cooked raisins together. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

(McCoy can be contacted at

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