Finding quick, healthy, economical snacks that kids enjoy can prove difficult for educators and families alike. Luckily, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Youth Healthy Eating and Active Living Program Work Team (Y-HEAL), consisting of New York 4-H and nutrition professionals, have released the 4-H Healthy Food Guidelines and a companion Recipe Book.
The 2-page Guidelines promote healthy habits among youth and their families by supporting healthy food choices at 4-H events, and include quick and easy ideas for fun and healthy 4-H foods and beverages. The Guidelines are based on a review of other healthy guidelines and input from 4-H youth and educators, and are aligned with a new national 4-H Healthy Event/ Club Assessment tool recently developed by the National 4-H Healthy Living Team. Hosting an event or part of a club? This simple, 7-item self-assessment tool will help you you can evaluate how you are doing at 4-H events and with your club activities.
The companion recipe book, titled Quick and Tasty Recipes for Healthy Youth, helps support the Guidelines with 29 healthy, low-cost, easy-to-prepare recipes that are favorites with youth and at 4-H events. Nutrition facts labels are included for each recipe, and all meet the NY Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Recipe Policy, ensuring that each recipe includes minimal added sugars, low-fat dairy ingredients, and 35% or fewer calories from fat.
The recipe book is great for youth events and can also be used at home! It offers a variety of meal and snack suggestions requiring simple, familiar ingredients that appeal to kids. Having trouble convincing your little ones to eat vegetables? Prepare the “Veggie Pick Pockets” with them and enjoy the taste of fresh cucumbers and carrots in a mini pita pocket with delicious low-fat creamy salad dressing! Also, involving children in the cooking process, especially when making these simple recipes, can excite and encourage them to try new foods.
Forming healthy dietary habits at an early age is crucial for children’s development and lifelong health, so making healthy choices easier wherever children live, learn, and play is particularly important. Promoting the 4-H Healthy Food Guidelines and Quick and Tasty Recipes for Healthy Youth, especially at 4-H events, can encourage children and families to consume more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and water, as well as limit foods and drinks high in solid fats and added sugar.
Allison Milch, Cornell University
Alisha Gaines, PhD, Cornell University, Division of Nutrition Sciences
Both the 4-H Food Guidelines and the companion Recipe Book are available to download from the Cornell Food and Nutrition in Communities website: http://fnec.cornell.edu/for-partners/resources/