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Nutrition month: tips for healthy living

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By Roberta Hunt

March is National Nutrition Month and a great time to remind families and youth several steps they can take for better health through smart decision making. Everyone likes a good snack, but what we think we’ll enjoy the most, is not always the healthiest for us. Also, we don’t always take the time to prepare snacks, we grab whatever is the closest and easiest to obtain. It boils down to planning our healthy snack choices and to changing old habits.

Have you ever found yourself snacking when you are not hungry? Try to avoid eating when you are stressed or at loose ends. Watch your snack portions. This can be accomplished by planning ahead and making sure you keep nutrient-rich foods on hand that won’t give you empty calories.

Students are always hungry after school and there are many good snack options that don’t require using the stove or sharp knives from the kitchen. Parents can plan with their children and even practice on the weekends if necessary how to put together an afterschool snack.

Here are a few healthy snacks that you might consider. One of my favorite with afterschool groups is the parfait: layer yogurt and fruit in a glass and top with granola. Peanut butter spread on apple slices gives good protein for an afternoon boost.  Air-popped popcorn and other microwaveable treats such as a baked potato (with low fat toppings), oatmeal and soup can offer good nutrition.  Other snacks such as tortilla rollups, fun-shaped sandwiches,  making fruit kabobs, fruit smoothies and dipping items such as pretzels, pita chips and vegetables in low rat ranch dressing, hummus and salsa can be fun food projects for after school as well as weekends at home.

Taking the time to plan snacks with young children can set the tone for eating right for years to come. Many websites have healthy eating tips such as www.kidseatright.org and www.eatright.org/nutritiontipsheets.  Also, contact the Washington County Extension Office for up to date nutrition information.  Snack suggestions for today’s article came from the 25 Healthy Snacks for Kids from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Upcoming 4-H meetings and activities
Washington County Elementary will have their Afterschool 4-H Club meeting on March 14. The 4-H Young Riders will hold their Horse Identification and Clinic Day on Saturday, Mar. 16, 1 p.m. at Willisburg Community Park. The monthly meeting for the 4-H Young Riders will be on Monday, Mar. 18, 7 p.m. at the extension office. North Washington Elementary will hold their Afterschool 4-H Club meeting on Tuesday, Mar. 19. The 4-H Spurs & Furs will meet on Mar. 19, 6:30 p.m. at the extension office.  The 4-H Food Stars advanced group will meet on Wednesday, Mar. 20, 3:30 p.m. at the extension office.  The 4-H Hooves and Horns will meet on Thursday, Mar. 21, 6:30 p.m. at the Marion County Extension Office. For questions on any 4-H program or activity, contact the Washington County Extension Office at 336-7741.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.