Healthy Cook: Kid-approved summer snacks with blueberries

WE HAVE A PROBLEM. Too many of our children are overweight or obese. And that can lead to type 2 diabetes. The reasons are easy to figure out. Just look at the youngsters and compare what they are doing now with what kids did in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s.

We walked to school, even in first grade. It was a long way — uphill — in both directions. And dad had the car at work so mom couldn’t drive, even if she knew how.

Recess was outside, throwing a ball around or chasing the pesky girls. Even pitching pennies against the wall was good exercise. You had to squat a lot and stand to retrieve the winnings.

Lunch was served from home and didn’t include juice boxes, candy, or potato chips. Orange juice and grapefruit juice came from cans, and in the deliciousness department were each one step removed from cod liver oil. But we didn’t have a lot of fat children.

The Blueberry Family Health Foundation is trying to do something good. The organization was started in 2013 by blueberry growers and processors across the U.S. and Canada, and includes businesses that deal with farmers. Many of the farms are organic. The Blueberry Family Health Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of children and families by supporting research, education, and wellness initiatives with a vision to end type 2 diabetes in children.

The figures are staggering. According to government numbers, one in three people born after the year 2000 will have type 2 diabetes. But the good news is, it is preventable. Cut calories and increase exercise. That’s simple, isn’t it?

Kids slurp down a lot of juice but miss the fiber. A cup of apple juice is only eight ounces, barely a good slurp, and has 117 calories, 0.2 grams of fiber, 0.15 grams of protein, and 27 grams of sugar. A cup of blueberries can make two snacks at a half cup each. The whole cup has 83 calories, 3.5 grams of fiber, 1.1 grams of protein, and 15 grams of sugar. A glass of ice water puts back the liquid, as would the apple juice.

When it’s snack time, you can’t go wrong with a smoothie. They are quick to make and clean up. You can use just about any fruit that’s on sale when Florida blueberries are not in season or the freezer stash is out too.

Start with a banana and add whatever you have. Yogurt is good, and a little milk. Our blender works best if you process one fruit and liquid. Add the next fruit and process that. Keep adding until you’re done. Finish with cinnamon or nutmeg or cardamom. Notice what’s missing? Sweetening! You don’t need it. The kids get all the good of the fruit without added calories.

To cut calories more (and this works great on a hot day), add ice. As much as you want. A smoothie that’s half ice is half the calories of all fruit.

Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries have an advantage over many fruits — NO WASTE. Here’s a recipe made with Florida blueberries that is low-sugar, low-fat, and high-flavor. It’s adapted from the Aug/Sept 2010 issue of Simple & Delicious magazine.


3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup light vanilla yogurt or sour cream
4 tablespoons brown sugar
Good sprinkle of cinnamon

Divide blueberries among four ovenproof 8-ounce ramekins. Spread with sour cream and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Place on a baking sheet. Broil on high 4 inches from the heat for 5 minutes or until bubbly and sugar is caramelized.


• Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.
• Fill one quarter with a lean protein such as chicken or turkey.
• Fill one quarter with a whole grain such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta.


• A half cup of Florida blueberries.
• A slice of toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
• A cup of low-fat or non-fat yogurt.
• Raw vegetables such as carrots or celery with salsa.


• Letting them help make meals and snacks that are healthy and taste good.
• Taking them grocery shopping, and teaching them how to read food labels.
• Limiting portion sizes of foods high in fat, sugar, and salt.
• Being a good role model. Eat healthy foods and be active with your kids.
• Encourage your child to become more active.


article by TRENT ROWE

Trent Rowe is the food editor for Central Florida Health News.

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