Children’s bones are like bank accounts. They’re depositing calcium now for later in life. By age 20, the average young person has acquired about 98 percent of his or her skeletal mass. Getting adequate calcium and plenty of physical activity now can be the best defense against osteoporosis later in life. Among school-age children, only four out of 10 boys and three out of 10 girls get the calcium they need each day. Consuming at least three – ideally four for 9 through 18 year olds – servings of milk, cheese or yogurt, gets students on track for turning these statistics around. A nutritious diet that includes at least 3-Every-DayTM of Dairy and plenty of physical activity helps children build the strongest bones possible. Dairy foods provide calcium and eight other essential nutrients, including protein, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin, and niacin to help keep bones strong and bodies fit. (From 3-Every-Day of Dairy for Stronger Bones, Grade 4 classroom activity)
1) Make your own pizza bar! There are great resources for schools online at the Fuel Up for 60 site mentioned above, but you can do this for dinner in your own home, too! Just use the extra large refrigerated biscuits and roll them out to make individual, kid-sized pizza crusts. They make a great snack, or let each person make several for a meal. Offer plenty of healthy topics for kids to pick from, including a variety of low-fat or fat-free cheeses, jalepenos, black olives, hot sauce, peppers, fresh tomoatoes, pineapple, cooked chicket, etc. You get the idea. And what kid doesn't like pizza? You can also make a pizza with low-fat or fat-free cheese for breakfast! You'll be a meal-time superstar!
2) Have a potato bar! Potatoes are always a hit with kids, so offer them along witha variety of low-fat and fat-free cheses, broccoli, chives, nuts, low-fat or fat-free plain yogurt mixed with spices, etc. The sky (and your immagination) are the limit here! Even Martha Stewart gets in on the family potato bar action (the pic above links you back to her take on it).
3) Take it up a notch with a tasty taco bar! Offer the kids lettuce, tomato, low-fat and fat-free cheses, hot sauce, salsa, low-fat sour cream, jalepenos, etc. Again, be creative! It's gotta be a hit..even Rachel Ray recommends it! (Click the picture above to be linked back to her recipe and instructions.)
There you go: four simple and easy ways to get more dairy in your kids' diets.
Be sure to check out the cool online games for kids where they can learn more about the importance of good nutrition and plenty of exercise at Fuel Up to Play 60.
Wanna learn more about modern dairy technology? Check out this piece on how robots are used on one Wayne County, Ohio dairy farm!