The summer of 2012 is sneaking up on my household quickly. With the first official summer break since I was in school, ahem over 15 years ago, I am looking forward to the freedom from packing lunches and shuffling schedules. I have had many parents ask me about what children should drink and eat in the summer when they may get away from their school day routines. There are three tips that I suggest keeping your kids hydrated, healthy and strong in the summer.
Staying hydrated is most important in soaring temperatures. Most kids need 6-8 cups of fluid per day. If they are active more than 45 minutes then a drink other than water is a good way to replenish some of the electrolytes and other losses. Most parents are confused when they look at the packaged drinks aisle. A question that comes to mind is whether to include Sports drinks or energy drinks in their child’s diet. Most children do not need to be stimulated by caffeine and other chemicals that you find in energy drinks nor the high amounts of sugar and chemicals you may find in sports drinks. There are four alternatives to sports drinks that I recommend. The first drink is Coconut water (who knew that this nature given fruit could provide such an amazing way to replenish electrolytes!). The second recommendation is to make your own sports drink with 50% juice and 50% water with a pinch of salt (really that is all that is needed 1/16 of a teaspoon to replenish the amount of salt a child would normally lose during exertion). For older kids consider 2 pinches of salt. Thirdly, thinly slice up 1 medium cucumber and add it to iced water. One last idea is a spruced up citrus drink: ½ cup orange juice, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 4 cups of water.
How about a healthy snack? Keeping fruits and vegetables stocked in the refrigerator is a great alternative to packaged snacks that are high in sugar and salt. A quick and fun recipe that I like to provide my kids in the heat is a fruit sorbet. It sounds fancy but secretly it is so easy which I love. There are two ways to make the fruit sorbet and I have included both ideas below.
Take 1 pound of frozen fruit, ½-3/4 cup water, 1/8 teaspoon xanthum gum and 1 tablespoon of honey. Blend up all of you ingredients in a food processor or if you have a really good blender. The xanthum gum is a thickener that although it is a little bit pricey ($10 for a bag which I found at Whole Foods) it is versatile and lasts awhile.
Another option to xanthum gum is to mix the one pound of frozen fruit with ½ cup plain yogurt (which would add protein), only 1-2 tablespoons water or lemon juice, and honey to sweeten.
Depending on the fruit you may need to add more sweeteners. Peaches seemed to be the sweetest and some of the berries were pretty tart. Adding a ripe banana will also help to thicken up the sorbet without the xanthum gum.
Last but not least….Keep moving! Some activities like swimming, basketball, indoor ice skating, bowling and other indoor games are a good way to keep the activity going in the hot days of summer. Don’t forget about staying hydrated and eating healthy to keep that energy level up. Have a great start to the summer!
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