With the longer days summertime brings, kids can play outdoors until dusk instead of being cooped up inside like they were all winter long. If you’re like me and my family, you’re in the thick of summer sports, camp, and outdoor play season.
Being outdoors is so important for kids (and adults!). Connecting with nature, getting fresh air, and lots of exercise all help develop growing minds and healthy bodies. As parents, we want to ensure our kids are getting at least an hour of outdoor play each day, especially when the weather is warm. In these days of "helicopter parenting," it’s good for parents to encourage kids be kids and explore the great outdoors.
Kids should be given the green light to discover nature. My kids get dirty and discover new and exciting places and things that may be right outside our front door every day - from bugs to birds to muddy puddles.
This year, my kids have discovered cooking, and this summer, they’ve taken it outside! My bowls and utensils get muddy as the kids make up their own creations using berries, dirt, and other wild and wonderful things that they find in the outdoors. I find that when they’ve spent time by themselves just enjoying and exploring, they’re calmer, happier, and they actually get along better – which is great for two sisters who tend to get a bit competitive!
As a Dietitian, I always want to fuel my girls’ little bodies so they’re ready to go on their adventures. Along with outdoor escapades comes the need for snacks that are portable, easy to grab, nutritious, and delicious. Foods that won’t crush, get sticky in little hands, spoil easily in the heat, or need refrigeration are the best sort of snacks to bring along on-the-go to nourish kids and fill their tummies.
My top five food recommendations to fuel your kid's adventures are:
Summer fruits like strawberries and peaches are popular with kids and you can also freeze grapes and blueberries for a cold, refreshing treat that’s healthier than ice cream!
CLIF Kid Zbars are baked, 100% organic, whole grain snack bars made just for kids. My kids are obsessed with each of the three flavors – chocolate chip, chocolate brownie, and iced oatmeal cookie! These yummy bars contain a blend of carbohydrates, protein, fat,and fibre that provide energy for kids’ active and growing bodies. They also have none of what parents don’t want in their kids’ snacks: partially-hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, synthetic preservatives and artificial flavours.
Kids love yogurt tubes, but be sure to look for the brands that have the least amount of sugar in them. Freezing them helps avoid that icky warm-yogurt situation, and turns them into frozen yogurt. I also use the frozen tubes to help keep things like sandwiches cold.
The good fats and protein in nut butters are important for fueling growing bodies, and whole grains provide energy for busy bodies.
You can make your own using a yummy variety of nuts and seeds, mixed with dried unsweetened cherries, apricots and large organic raisins. Tossing a handful of mini chocolate chips into the bag sweetens the deal even more.
It’s easy to be protective of our kids, but let’s reclaim outdoor discovery and adventure, and get them out to play!