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alternative to summer camps

10 Alternatives to Feeding Kids Processed Foods

processed foods

A friend of mine posted a photo of a very disgusting green sandwich that came with the brand new packaged branded portable lunch kit she got for her kid (I won’t say the name of the very popular brand). Ick!

It reminded me of my long-standing opposition to processed foods. Not only are pre-packaged foods loaded with extra sugar, salt, additives and preservatives, but they usually have extra calories, cholesterol and saturated fats that fresh whole foods.

But we must admit, in this very busy days that we live in, it’s easier and way more convenient and less time-consuming than putting together all natural meals for breakfast and lunch.

To help out myself and other moms, I reassembled a past blog post with a list of healthy alternatives to processed foods for us to consider serving up for our children. It may take a few extra steps and time out of the day, but if it will save the nausea of looking at a green pre-packaged meal kit sandwich then let’s do it!

  1. Opt for Homemade Granola Over Pre-Packaged Cereals – It doesn’t take much to mix together old fashioned oats, sunflower seeds, coconut, nuts, spices, honey and no-sugar-added applesauce to create delicious batch of granola for the kids. One of the perks of homemade granola is that you get to add the flavors your kids enjoy while avoiding preservatives and additives. Milk turns your homemade granola into a breakfast cereal, while mixing it with yogurt makes it a healthy and substantial snack.
  2. Skip Breakfast Bars and Toaster Treats – Both are good for quick fixes in the morning, but are they good for you? Substitute whole wheat toast with a nut butter or an all fruit, no-sugar added spread. It’s fast, nutritious and just as tasty.
  3. Freezing Homemade Pancakes – Commercially-frozen pancakes don’t taste nearly as good as the whole grain pancakes you can make yourself. You can whip up a large batch of the tasty cakes and put them in freezer bags to pull out when you need them. Since you are the one making them, you know exactly what they contain, and you can be sure your kids are getting healthy food without chemical additives
  4. Choose Fruit Over Syrup – Pancake syrup might be tasty, but anything other than pure maple syrup is filled with chemicals, flavoring additives and preservatives. Try substituting pureed fruit or one of the many all-fruit spreads available without the added sugar. Another tasty topper is natural applesauce.
  5. Make Your Own Pasta Sauce – Have you ever noticed how spaghetti usually tastes better the second day? Make your own pasta sauce from scratch and you will eliminate all the preservatives and excess sugar. Make enough to freeze dinner-sized portions and you will have instant meals for busy days.
  6. Cut Out Canned Pasta – Opening a can of pasta is quick and easy, and kids love those little “o’s” and alphabet letters. You can make those quick and easy meals healthy by purchasing fun pasta shapes and combining them with your homemade pasta sauce. Freeze child size portions and you have plenty of meals ready to just heat and serve.
  7. Make Your Own Lunch Kits –Kids love tearing into those lunches with crackers, deli meat, cheese and some kind of sugary treat. You can create the same effect using healthy ingredients and adding fresh fruits and vegetables. Whole grain crackers, organic cheese and your kids’ favorite treats still allow them to stack and assemble lunch, just without the added chemicals. Try carrot chips as a substitute for greasy potato chips.
  8. Choose Fruit and Vegetable Bread Over Cakes – Every now and then, cake and other sweets are a nice treat. Still, a steady diet of such fare is not good for you. Substituting quick breads like banana bread or zucchini bread can be a healthy alternative, especially when they’re made with a health-conscious recipe. A little softened cream cheese with fruit makes a nice topping.
  9. Make Mini Pizzas – Instead of the fat-laden, commercially-frozen pizza, offer your kids the opportunity to make their own mini pizzas. All you need are some whole wheat English muffins, a little marinara sauce, low fat cheese and any other toppings they’d like to add. Pile on the good stuff and bake in the oven until the cheese is a nice golden-brown. These little pizzas are easy and fun to make, the kids will love them and you’ll have the pleasure of knowing that your kids are eating healthily. For variety, you can make morning pizzas by adding scrambled eggs as a topping. Give it even more flair by using salsa and crumbled turkey or chicken sausage.
  10. Pass on the Cookies – Cookies are an easy snack to reach for when little tummies rumble, but they’re also full of empty calories. A healthy alternative that kids will enjoy includes mini rice cakes with banana slices and peanut butter in between. When you use natural, no-sugar-added peanut butter, you have a healthy, protein rich snack.

Part of making the change to healthy substitutes is not saying anything about what’s being substituted. Just offer the alternative as you would any other food, and soon you will find your kids eating healthy foods without complaining. Ideally, starting your kids off early in life with less sugar and bad fats means a much healthier childhood, but it’s never too late to change. It may take a little time to get older kids on board, but modeling good eating habits yourself and getting them involved in helping make the meals will go a long way towards advancing your cause.

Here! Here!

Summer Camp Slots Are Filling Up but Here are 10 Alternatives to Summer Camps

alternative to summer camps

Even though Summer Camp slots have already started filling up, there are plenty alternatives out there for parents to consider.

Can you believe it is already time to start scoping for and signing up your little ones for summer camps already? Yup! By the middle of February, most of the best and most popular camps are already filled and only taking children for the wait list.

Here is a website that attempts to curate all the camps nationwide for you to peruse: www.summercamps.com. Get on it, parents!

If you are thinking of alternatives, and or if you are on a tight budget and camp may be out of the question this year, there are plenty of alternatives for you to consider.

Here are 10 we posted previously, shared again for your convenience:

 

  1. Volunteer Programs – Older children can learn a sense of civic responsibility and the importance of helping others by spending part of their summer participating in a local volunteer program. Animal lovers among the smaller set may be thrilled with the idea of helping at a local animal shelter, while others may enjoy working with a local charity or visiting a local retirement community.
  2. Community Day Camps – Community centers in most cities offer summer day camp programs, allowing kids to enjoy all of the fun activities that are a part of a sleep-away camp without the stress of spending weeks away from the familiarity of home.
  3. Religious Summer Programs – Many places of worship offer vacation workshops and other similar programs with a theme of religious instruction during summertime, which may be an ideal choice for devout families. Kids can spend the summer among peers who share their spirituality, learning about their family’s belief system through arts and crafts, story time, and other kid-friendly activities.
  4. Arts Workshops – Many art museums offer programs specifically tailored to budding art aficionados; local universities may also host summer programs for children staffed by students with education or arts majors. University programs may include visual art, musical instruction, or theater programs, depending upon your area.
  5. Sports Clinics – Pint-sized athletes are sure to love spending the summer honing their skills, which makes a local sports clinic the ideal choice. These programs keep kids physically active, which is a huge plus for parents who are concerned about the sedentary lifestyle that many children adopt when school ends. Rather than spending hours in front of the television or the computer, kids who participate in a sports clinic can enjoy fresh air, sunshine, and exercise while becoming stronger and more skilled athletes.
  6. Academic Programs – During summer vacation many school systems still offer programs for academically gifted children. Some programs even focus on peer-tutoring, allowing more advanced students to offer assistance to classmates who struggle in some areas, which can build a sense of social consciousness. Alternatively, many programs feature an emphasis on building and expanding gifted kids’ already-impressive knowledge base.
  7. Scouting – While the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America do have summer camps for their troop members scattered across the country, plenty of troops stay home during summer vacation to participate in locally-based scouting activities. School vacations provide active scouts with the opportunity to earn merit badges and other achievements, which can be difficult to do during the hectic school year.
  8. Family Day Trips – Families can spend their summer vacation taking a series of fun and exciting day trips. Visiting the zoo, the park, or a children’s center during the dog days of summer are surefire cures for the boredom and inertia that often sets in around mid-July.
  9. Visiting Extended Family – Today’s families tend to be more spread out than in previous generations, so kids might not get to spend as much time with members of their extended family as they would like. While spending a few weeks at summer camp might be daunting for some kids, visiting a favorite family member during summer vacation might not be as stressful.
  10. Family Camping Trips – Skipping a sleep-away summer camp doesn’t mean that kids have to forgo the camping experience altogether; outdoorsy families can plan a camping trip that keeps everyone together and costs far less than sleep-away camp fees.
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