How to tell food is healthy for kids – for real

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English: vegetables
English: vegetables (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s gratifying to see Chicago companies getting together to make it easier for kids to eat healthy food. And in case you wonder just what “healthy for kids” means, here are specific guidelines from Healthy Fare for Kids® (works for us grownups, too). And here are the new FDA labeling requirements. Yay! And after you’re done with all that, below that, a cool recipe to serve 4 small people.

HFFK Nutritional Guidelines

Look for this logo on meats/foods you buy
Look for this logo on meats/foods you buy

There are eight Healthy Fare for Kids’ nutritional guidelines for home cooks and restaurants to follow, and all must be met for the complete meal to be so designated.

1. Center of the plate: lean protein with fresh vegetables and/or fruit
Pairing 2-3 ounces of protein – a lean cut of meat or legumes with at least one cup of fresh vegetables and/or fruit. If the protein is meat or poultry, it must be raised without the use of antibiotics and growth hormones. If seafood, choose a variety of sustainable seafood.

2. Portion sizes: Keep it simple
Children consume almost twice as many calories when eating food in restaurants. A child’s stomach is about the size of their fist, so smaller portions of good food will fill them up and leave them satisfied.

3. Use whole grain breads and pasta
Choose about a two-ounce serving of whole grains instead of highly refined grain products. Whole grain products are packed with nutrients and fiber and will contain at least 51% of whole grains.

4. Use cooking methods that are lower in fat while still retaining flavors
Steer away from serving deep-fried food that is high in fat, saturated fat and calories. As well, avoid all food using trans fat or hydrogenated fats. Try olive oils for cooking and canola oils for baking.

5. Prepare your dishes with great flavors while limiting salt and sugar
High sodium diets can cause a number of health challenges, even in children. Build your dish with flavor profiles that introduce children to the naturally delicious taste of healthy foods while limiting salt and sugar. Sodium levels must be lower than 665 mg. per serving.

6. Keep it local and seasonal
Local produce is fresher, tastier and a hands-on way to get kids engaged in learning about local and seasonal food. It’s great for the environment and kids love to be a part of being green. Check out www.metro-farms.com for fresh locally grown vegetables and fish in Chicago.

7. Serve no-sugar beverages and small, if any, desserts
Have kids order flat or sparkling water flavored with vegetables or fruit. Or serve a one-cup serving of non-flavored organic milk or a dairy equivalent in your meal. Soda and concentrated fruit juice are unwelcome guests at the table. Finally, if you want to add dessert to the meal, continue the idea of small and seasonal.

8. Keep the bread basket off the table before the meal
In restaurants, substitute the bread for fresh vegetables and at home, put out some fresh vegetables while the meal is being prepared. Both will allow kids hunger to be satisfied with the main meal while getting some of their daily vegetable needs.

For more information, please contact Diane Schmidt at info@healthyfareforkids.com. Visit www.healthyfareforkids.com for a complete and growing list of participating chefs, restaurants, businesses and partner organizations. Follow Healthy Fare for Kids on Facebook (www.facebook.com/HealthyFarefForKids), Twitter (@HealthyFare4Kid).

Healthy Fare for Kids® Recipe
Whole Wheat Tortillas with Turkey and Beans©
by Chefs Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris

  • 1 cup dried pinto beans
  • ½ cup yellow onions – diced
  • ½ cup poblano peppers – seeds removed and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 4 small whole wheat tortillas or whole grain corn tortillas
  • 8 slices of turkey
  • 1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes – sliced in half
  • ½ cup cucumber – peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cilantro – chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ cup Monterey jack cheese – grated (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, cover pinto beans with 1inch of water and soak overnight in the refrigerator. Drain water and rinse. In a small sauce pot, cover the beans in 1 inch of water and simmer until they are tender (make sure they remain covered in water the entire cooking time, add extra water if necessary) about 1-1½ hours. (Canned beans can be used as a substitute)
  2. Sauté the onion and poblano peppers in 2 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat until softened and translucent. Add the cooked beans to the vegetables and continue to cook till liquid has reduced to the desired consistency. Season with salt & pepper. Using a potato masher or a fork, mash the beans into a coarse puree.
  3. In a small bowl, toss the tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, warm the whole wheat tortilla and 2 slices of turkey . Spoon ¼ cup of mashed beans on half of the tortilla, add a spoon of the tomato mixture and grated cheese if desired, fold in half.

 

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