Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer's freshest ideas to feed your kids well

(ARA) – Summertime brings out the best in family meals -- fresh vegetables and fruit, fresh-air dining and a fresh opportunity for parents to maintain their commitment to feeding their kids well.

According to a recent study by Ohio State University and published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, of children ages 2 to 5, less than 22 percent meet recommendations for their daily vegetable intake and for children ages 6 to 11, it’s less than 16 percent.

“With a little creative know-how, it’s easy to create summer meals that are full of veggies, value, variety and versatility,” says Sylvia Klinger, a registered dietitian, mother of two and member of the Ragu nutrition advisory panel.

Klinger offers some tips for adding more of the good stuff to your kids’ diets this summer.

* Eat out … side: Spend less time in the kitchen with quick and easy recipes like Chicken Margherita. Once the meal is ready to go, dine together on the patio, or spread a picnic blanket on your lawn for a special summer celebration.

* Nurture natural nutrition: Use the summer break to teach your kids about satisfying and nutritious meals. Bring them along to the farmers market, or take a special trip to a local farm. Let them select from among the fresh, brightly colored vegetables, then decide as family how to prepare them.

“One of the easiest ways to incorporate veggies into children’s diets is to use a great tasting tomato sauce like Ragu Old World Style pasta sauce, which provides more than a full serving of vegetables in every half-cup of sauce,” says Klinger. “It also contains vitamins A and C, anti-oxidants and lycopene. Add even more vegetables by combining with your farm-fresh suggestions for a delicious veggie pizza.”

* Skip the sweets, but delight in dessert: Keeping dinner healthy doesn’t have to mean sacrificing dessert. Take advantage of the abundance of fruits in the summer to make dessert as healthy as the main course. Slice up a juicy watermelon or freeze fruit juice in a cup with fresh fruit for your own homemade ice pops.

* Switch up summer snacking: Being out of school means kids have more free time to snack. While eating frequent, small meals is a good idea, it’s important to keep kids focused on the good stuff. Get in the habit of switching from junk food to healthy bites by preparing good-for-you snacks in advance.

For nutritious meal inspiration and delicious recipes visit www.Ragu.com.

Try these kid-friendly recipes the whole family is sure to love:

Chicken Margherita

Makes four servings. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups Ragu Old World Style Margherita Smooth Pasta Sauce
4 slices fresh or packaged mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Directions:

Season chicken, if desired, with salt and black pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and brown chicken, turning once, about 5 minutes. Add sauce and simmer covered 5 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Top chicken with cheese, then let stand until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Garnish with basil. Serve, if desired, with hot cooked penne pasta topped with additional sauce, heated.

Meatball Hero Sandwiches

Makes four servings. Prep Time: 10 minutes. Cook Time: 25 minutes.

Ingredients:

1 pound. lean ground beef
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg
1 jar (1 pound,10 ounces.) Ragu Old World Style Sweet Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce
4 Italian rolls (about 6 inches long each), halved lengthwise
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)

Directions:

Combine ground beef, bread crumbs and egg in medium bowl; shape into 12 meatballs. Bring Pasta Sauce to a boil in 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Gently stir in uncooked meatballs. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until meatballs are done. Serve meatballs and sauce in rolls, topped with cheese.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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