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Monday, July 22, 2024

Fuel Our Future

By Maya E. Nahra, RD, LN

Proper nutrition is crucial for social, emotional and psychological development in children, but getting kids to eat healthy on the go can be challenging.  Be prepared by planning ahead and pre-packing foods in addition to being creative, keeping food fun, healthy and entertaining.  Base your snacks around these four components for a balanced diet to support their growth and energy needs:

  1. Omega 3’s will support a healthy immune system and proper brain development.
  2. Antioxidants are crucial for proper growth and development.  Be sure to include a rainbow of colors to ensure maximum exposure.
  3. Whole grains will provide sustained physical and mental energy throughout their day.
  4. Protein is needed for proper tissue, organ and immune systems development.


  • Whole-wheat bread, cut into small cube squares
  • Assorted cheese cubes
  • Chicken breasts cut into cubes
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Pickles
  • Olives (optional)

Slide the ingredients onto skewers.  Pack a side of mayo or mustard for dipping!

Parmesan Pita Chips with Mashed Dip

  • Whole-wheat pitas, opened and cut into wedges
  • Grated fresh Parmesan
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Can of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • Squeeze of tomato or sun-dried tomato paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Cut pitas into wedges and separate their layers.  Spread them on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil, Parmesan and basil.  Bake for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees until toasted.

Dump the beans into a medium-sized bowl; add a squeeze of tomato or sun-dried tomato paste, sea salt, pepper and olive oil.  Mash with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Pack it up and serve with the Parmesan pita chips!

Energy Bites

  • 1 small banana
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • Finely chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips or non-sweetened shredded coconut for coating

In a medium bowl, mash together the banana and peanut butter.  Stir in the wheat germ. Roll individual tablespoons of the mixture into balls, then roll the balls in the chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips or coconut. Chill until firm. (Make these in bulk!)

Chocolate Banana Tortillas

  • One banana, thinly sliced
  • Handful dark chocolate chips
  • Two whole-wheat flour tortillas
  • Pat of butter

Melt butter in a nonstick pan.  Arrange banana slices over one tortilla and mash them very lightly with a fork.  Dot the tortilla with chocolate chips and place a second tortilla on top.  Slide into frying pan and cook for a few minutes on each side, until brown and golden at the edges.  Let cool, slice into wedges, and stick them in sandwich bags to go!

Maya E. Nahra, RD, LD is a Phoenix-based registered dietitian, holistic nutritionist and owner of Awakened Reconnection.  She specializes in intuitive nutrition counseling and ‘intentful’ cooking.  Send your nutrition questions to Maya at greenpanel@greenlivingaz.com or visit AwakenedReconnection.com.


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