Back to School: Keeping Kids Active & Healthy

horizon organic, company logoSchool is still a few weeks away and it’s beastly hot as August arrives, the hottest weeks of the year. In this heat, it’s easy to become a complete couch potato, fan on high, snacks piled on the table and the TV blaring away, consuming those spare neurons and wasting hours on end. But while that’s fun once in a while, day after day it’s a recipe for a really difficult transition to school starting up again.

Fortunately we’re a fairly active family, especially with my daily visit to the gym to keep myself healthy and able to manage the many flaming chainsaws I’m juggling at any given time.

To help with that, I believe in the importance of not just a good diet but of healthy snacks too. Out for ice cream? We get frozen yogurt and fruit toppings instead. Soda? Once in a great while, with fruit juice the preferred alternative. Cookies? Let’s make our own from the best quality ingredients we can.

In fact, that’s part of how I keep my kids happy and healthy, by letting them bake. The girls love it and K-, my 10yo, is particularly motivated to make sweet treats so she can not only have them herself, but so that the rest of us can enjoy them and compliment her on her mad baking skillz!

horizon organic 1% milk, in our fridge doorAnd so when I signed up to help Horizon Organics with its Horizon Parents Back to School program, it was a no-brainer since we already use and love its products! In fact, check out what’s sitting in the fridge as I write this post (on the left). Interestingly, we drank 2% milk for the longest time and one day I decided to try switching to 1% instead, and we’ve never looked back.

It’s pretty hard to distinguish between the two, and the 1% is healthier: whole milk is 150 calories and 8 grams of fat per cup, 2% milk is 120 calories and 3.5 grams of fat, while 1% is only 110 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. If there’s no meaningful difference in taste or texture, why have the extra fat and calories?

At this point, drinking whole milk seems so decadent that it’s like drinking cream! And for cooking, well, it’s possible that our recipes are being adversely affected by the lack of fat in the milk, but I don’t know that we’ve noticed it.

And by the way, fat free milk has, obviously, 0 grams of fat, but still has 90 calories, so I consider that the theoretical minimum calorie count for a cup of milk. I’ll take the extra 20 calories for the taste because non-fat milk definitely has a different texture!

School is coming our way in just a few weeks, however, and so in addition to starting to anticipate the battle over adjusting sleep schedules so they’re up and ready to leave for school by 7:45am, we also need to start talking about school lunches. A topic I find frustrating as time after time I’ll pack a healthy meal based on what they tell me they’d like, just to have them return home with a full thermos of soup, an untouched sandwich, the same leftover potstickers they left with, etc.

horizon organic snack crackers: cheddar and peanut butterOne thing I keep pushing is that they’re responsible for their own lunches. With a 5th grader, 9th grader and 12th grader, they should surely have the wherewithal to assemble a tasty lunch that they’ll eat. I mean, they made it, right? But it’s a constant challenge even in that situation, for reasons that I find a bit baffling. I think they’re all just so distracted by friends and conversation that they might manage a snacky thing, but that’s about all.

Which is why I’m eager to give the new Horizon Organic snack crackers a whirl this coming year too. Healthy, tasty, and snacky. Seems like the perfect combination, if you ask me.

Now tell me about your strategy, fellow parents. What do you make for your children’s school lunches to catch their attention and actually be eaten? Or do you let them make their own lunches, and if you do, what parameters do you have? Obviously “I’m having an all-Oreo lunch today, Dad!” doesn’t fly. So what does?

And thanks to Horizon Organic for their delicious milk, cheese, sour cream and other products. We’re loyal fans for sure!

Disclaimer: This post was written as part of the Horizon Organic Horizon Parents Back to School Program and included compensation. More money to spend on school lunches, I expect.