Healthy Camping Foods

Summer is the time to get out the camping gear and head outdoors. In addition to the hot dogs and s’mores, consider packing some of the following choices to balance out meals and snacks.

  • Fruits and veggies. Sturdier fresh produce that holds up well includes apples, carrots, snap peas, and oranges. Dried fruit also makes a great snack.
  • Whole grains. Popcorn is a whole grain and is an easy snack to take along. For cereal bars, check the nutrition label and choose those made with whole grain and that have a lower sugar content.
  • Dairy. If you have adequate refrigeration, hard cheeses, cheese sticks, and yogurt tubes are much easier to pack than a carton of milk.

What to Eat? Snack Attack!

Snacks are foods eaten outside of a scheduled, structured meal setting. Snacking can be part of a healthy meal plan. However, many snack foods and beverages that give us the most calories are low in important nutrients.

According to a United States Department of Agriculture study, after-school snacks provide about one-third of children’s calories. Because children have smaller stomachs, they need the energy and nutrients snacks provide.

Choosing snacks that offer essential vitamins and minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats allow children to get the energy they need while helping them meet their daily nutrition requirements. Use these smart snacking strategies:

  • Plan snacks. Make them part of daily food choices and provide options from several food groups.
  • Encourage regular snack times and amounts. Don’t let children nibble constantly during the day.
  • Be a label detective. Limit convenience-type snacks that are high in sugar, fat, and salt and ones that use excessive packaging.
  • Create snack stations. Package your own ready-to-go snacks. Set up snack areas in the refrigerator and in a kitchen cupboard. Allow children to choose from either.
  • Allow children to be “chefs in training.” Have them help pick out fruits, vegetables, and cheese when shopping. Include them in snack food preparation. Use snacks to introduce new foods.

One snack to try is hummus. Hummus packs a lot of protein and fiber and is easy to make. Raw veggies, crackers, or pita chips can be dipped into this healthy and tasty snack.

Download and print “Snacks for Healthy Kids” at store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/4605.

Biggest chunk of calories comes from processed foods, study finds

Highly processed foods, such as prepared meals, white bread, cookies, chips, soda and candy, account for more than 60 percent of the calories in products Americans routinely buy in grocery stores, according to a new study.

This study found that many Americans have strongly held opinions and beliefs about processed foods. Some consider processed foods to be tasty, convenient, and affordable choices, while others contend that the combination of sugar, fat, sodium (salt), and flavoring in these foods promotes overeating and contributes to obesity.

Not only are highly processed foods a stable part of U.S. purchasing patterns, but the highly processed foods households are buying are higher in fat, sugar, and sodium on average than the less-processed foods (e.g., fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits, fresh meat, milk, eggs, and dried beans) they buy.

The biggest contributors to unhealthy diets and chronic disease are added sugars, excessive fat, and sodium. Too much sugar and fat may result in weight gain, increased cholesterol levels, and aggravation of other health issues. Excess sodium can lead to fluid retention and high blood pressure, putting extra stress on the circulatory system and increasing the risk for heart disease, heart or kidney failure, stroke, and other health problems.

Add a little spice to your life!

Eating less sodium, sugar, and fat may seem challenging but using herbs and spices can help! Herbs and spices help flavor foods when you cut back on dietary fat, sugar, and sodium.

You can reduce or eliminate sugar with these sweet-tasting spices: allspice, cloves, ginger, cardamom, mace, cinnamon, and nutmeg. When reducing sodium, improve the taste of recipes by adding savory flavors such as black pepper, garlic powder, curry powder, cumin, basil, and onion. Instead of using salt for your pasta, try basil, oregano, parsley, and pepper or use an Italian seasoning blend.

Sources: American Society for Nutrition, news release, March 28, 2015; www.lancaster.unl.edu/food/spiceherbshandout-color.pdf.

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