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oatmealby Angela Aladjem RD, LD

Summer, where have you gone? The days of children waking up late, having endless playdates and day trips are coming to an end. With that, so are the days of the abnormal eating schedules that can sometimes happen in the summer. With the beginning of school less than a month away, many parents pledge to make changes for the better this upcoming academic year. While it is certainly important to pack healthy lunches and have a balanced dinner at night, a lot of families struggle with perhaps the most important meal of the day, breakfast.

Dozens of studies that have been done since the 1950’s show that children who eat breakfast perform better on tests. Without breakfast, it is hard for children, and adults alike, to concentrate and process new information. A solid meal in the morning can also help children to stay calm in class. As a bonus, good nutrition from morning through the afternoon, can also help children have enough energy for after school activities, such as sports.

Here are some foods that can help set your family up for a successful day:

1. Eggs: With 6 grams of protein per egg to sustain energy, this is one of the easiest, and most common foods for breakfast. Eggs are also rich in choline, which help create memory stem cells in the brain. This can help children of all ages remember. Try hard boiling eggs at the beginning of the week, making single-serving breakfast casseroles in muffin tins, or slices of french toast that can be reheated throughout the week.

2. Oatmeal: This whole grain, if cooked plain, is a no sugar added cereal. It is high in fiber, and boasts some protein as well. These qualities help keep kids satisfied through lunch. Rather than buying flavored, high sugar varieties, try mixing in different fruits, nuts, and seeds. If you need a little sweetener, try a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey. You can also make oatmeal ahead; try baked oatmeal, cooking a weeks worth of steel-cut oats in your crockpot, or making overnight oats (mix milk, oatmeal, and yogurt with fruit and nuts and let sit overnight in the fridge).

3. Nuts and Nut Butters: High in healthy fats, protein, and fiber, along with vitamins and minerals, these nutrition all stars are an easy addition to any breakfast. As a bonus, nuts are rich in magnesium and b vitamins which help nervous system function and also reducing stress. If your child has ADD, these can be especially beneficial for them. It’s as simple as spreading almond butter on whole grain toast or stirring it in warm oatmeal, throwing some in a fruit and veggie smoothie, or adding nuts to greek yogurt.

Have a great start to the school year! In health, Angela

grillingby Angela Aladjem RD, LD

Year round, people have excuses as to why they do not feel like cooking, and summertime is no exception. The popular rebuttal is that cooking requires heating up the stove, and that, in turn, heats up the house. To that, cooking on the grill offers a wonderful, healthy alternative. Food can be marinated by day in the refrigerator, and thrown on the grill soon before dinnertime. Salads are easy enough to put together, for a quick, cool meal. But before you dive in, there are a few things to keep in mind for safety and to ensure great taste!

Safety tips:

-As tempting as it may be to thaw meats in your sink while you are working, it is not safe. Food that falls to a certain temperature has the ability to grow bacteria. Then, if the meat isn’t cooked correctly, there is a possibility for foodborne illness. It is best to thaw the meat overnight, in the refrigerator. You can also thaw in the microwave, follow your microwave for times.

-While thawing and preparing food, it is best to keep meat, vegetables, and starches separate. The tray you bring the meat to the grill on should be properly cleaned with hot soap and water before replacing the cooked item. Just like during thawing, there may be some bacteria on the meat which can travel onto your other food items. Always properly wash your hands, utensils, and plates.

-Temp for “doneness.” Another common error is to simply cut a small slit in the center of meat to gauge if it is finished or not. For the same reasons as above, it is important to make sure meat is cooked to the proper temp before removing from the grill: 145 for medium rare burgers or steaks, 160 for other beef, pork, veal, or lamb, turkey and chicken should be cooked to 165, and 145 for seafood.

Cooking Tips:

-For great taste, marinade cuts of veggies or meat in the refrigerator for 20 minutes up to a day before cooking. This can help moisten and flavor the food. Be careful with marinades that contain a lot of acid or salt because that could dry out the food.

-Cook food over a medium temperature; this will help ensure even cooking and prevent the outside from charring or burning before the inside is done.

-Use tongs or a spatula to rotate items on the grill as poking it with a fork can cause a loss of juice, which will result in a loss of flavor.

Enjoy the summer and your time outside with friends and family! In health, Angela

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