Say farewell to summer, hello to fall, with fun, nutritious, tasty treats

Closing the door on summer can feel a little sad for both kids and grown-ups. Why not make the transition cheerier and extra special this year?  Picnics and barbeques are common fare for the long, Labor Day weekend. Parts of the Midwest are bracing for the longest heat wave of the summer, so healthy, cool-down, kid-friendly snacks, desserts, and main courses that carry little ones right into a great new school year, make good sense.

For one thing, getting kids involved in crafting creative, healthy concoctions nourishes both body and mind. Helping measure ingredients builds math skills such as addition and multiplication and shows practical uses for math. Working together in the kitchen is also a great opportunity to talk about nutrition in a fun way and to prove that “good for you” can also mean “tastes good.”

The Treehouse Parents website has compiled some of the cutest, most colorful frozen treats for kids. They include White Grape Juice and Gummy Bear Popsicles from The Lunchbox Season, Frozen Yogurt Dots from Small Fry, and Fruitsicles from In the Corner. That last one simply requires popsicle sticks, plastic cups, and frozen pureed fruit—try mango, raspberry, and more. So simple! Plus, Kiddie Foodie has a charming Sweet Spring Garden recipe that is, of course, just as good for summer and combines fruit smoothie mix, a bit of yogurt, and a few chocolate chips, then pouring the blend into  flower-, bug-, and butterfly-shaped chocolate molds for freezing, followed by melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness!

Along the same lines, Chocolate Cover Katie “The Healthy Dessert Blog,” offers a recipe for frozen yogurt that requires just two ingredients! By customizing the “base,” froyo fans can churn out strawberry, peanut butter, mocha java chip and more.

As a new school year gets underway, try some out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new breakfast ideas, using the long weekend to experiment. WebMD notes that “While adults need to eat breakfast each day to perform their best, kids need it even more. Their growing bodies and developing brains need regular refueling often, from food. When kids skip breakfast, they don't get what they need to be at their best.” Alysa Bar-Dayan, a registered dietician writing for the Canadian website About Kids’ Health, further suggests that “Breakfast helps improve mental performance and concentration during morning activities. Children who skip breakfast will be more sluggish, less attentive, and have less energy to carry out their morning tasks. Teachers observe that children who come to school hungry experience more learning difficulties compared to well-nourished children.”

Getting kids to trade sugar-coated cereal and treats for higher-nutrition “fuel” can also require creativity. Smoothie Web offers Healthy Breakfast Smoothie Recipes for a Great Morning Start.  The range of blends combine fruit, oatmeal, and more, such as this Apple ‘n’ Oats Smoothie for Health with apples, rice milk, and honey or agave, and Heart Healthy Oats & Fruit Smoothie that also includes almonds and maple syrup.

Help kids step over the Labor Day/school year threshold while sipping and nibbling tasty, good-for-them treats.