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Making munchies matter

Posted: September 21, 2010 4:53 p.m.
Updated: September 22, 2010 4:30 a.m.

watermelon berry slush

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Kids love to snack. But left to their own devices, most kids don’t always make the healthiest snack choices.

A new study of long-term eating patterns in children, from researchers at the University of North Carolina, shows that kids today are getting nearly one-third of their daily calories from unhealthy snacks such as chips, crackers and candy.

Nutritious and delicious snacks are as close as your produce aisle. Water­melon is practically a multivitamin unto itself — and its natural sweetness is something kids love.

Did You Know?

n    A 2-cup serving of watermelon is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6 and C.

n    Vitamin A found in watermelon is important for optimal eye health.

n    Vitamin B6 found in watermelon is used by the body to manufacture brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), such as serotonin, melatonin and dopamine, which preliminary research shows may help the body cope with anxiety
and panic.

n    Vitamin C in watermelons can help to bolster your immune system’s defenses against infections and viruses, and is known to stimulate the immune system and protect against free radical damage.

n    A 2-cup serving of watermelon is also a source of potassium, a mineral necessary for water balance and found inside of every cell. People with low potassium levels can experience muscle cramps. A 2-cup serving has less than 10 percent of the daily reference value for potassium.

Try these fun recipes as after-school and post-activity snacks. For more kid-friendly recipes and healthy eating tips, visit www.watermelon.org.

Watermelon kebabs
        1-inch cubes of seedless
            watermelon
        Smoked turkey breast
        Cheddar cheese
        Coffee stirrers or
            beverage straws

Cut watermelon, turkey and cheese in cubes and skewer on stirrers or straws.

Watermelon nachos
Serves 6 to 8
    12 to     16 1/2-inch thick
        watermelon triangles
        with 3-inch sides
    2     cups Greek vanilla
        yogurt
    1/2     teaspoon vanilla
        extract
        A few drops almond
        extract
    1     cup Craisins
    1     cup white chocolate
        chips
    1/2     cup toasted sliced
        almonds
    1/2     teaspoon ground
        cinnamon
Arrange the watermelon triangles on a serving platter or glass cake stand.

Mix yogurt with extracts and spoon yogurt over the watermelon in the fashion of nacho cheese sauce.

Sprinkle craisins, white chocolate chips, and almonds over the yogurt and dust with cinnamon.

Watermelon dippers
    8     ounces sour cream
    4     tablespoons sugar
    1     teaspoon vanilla
        extract
        Watermelon sticks or
        small wedges

Blend together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla in a small serving bowl. Use as a dip for the watermelon.

Watermelon cut outs
        Seedless watermelon,
            cut into 1/2- to
            3/4-inch-thick slices
        Yogurt
        Granola or similar cereal

Using your favorite cookie cutters, cut shapes out of watermelon slices.

Frost with vanilla or other flavored yogurt.

Sprinkle with granola.

Watermelon berry slush
Makes 6 servings
    4     cups cubed, seeded
        watermelon
    1     10-ounce package
        frozen raspberries
    1     12-ounce bottle
        sparkling mineral
        water
Place watermelon in a single layer in shallow pan; freeze until firm.

Remove from freezer and let stand five minutes.

Drop watermelon through food chute of a food processor or blender with the motor running.

Add frozen raspberries alternately with mineral water, processing until smooth.

Watermelon jelly logs
Makes 6 servings
    6     3-inch x 2-inch x
        5-inch
        watermelon
       
                        rectangles
    3     flavors all fruit or low
        sugar preserves
    6     ginger, molasses or
        peanut butter cookies
Using a melon-baller, cut 3 divots into a long side of each watermelon rectangle. Fill each divot with a dif­ferent all-fruit or low-sugar preserve. Serve each rectangle with a cookie.

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