Low-sugar swaps for healthier kids’ meals

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed most children consume an unhealthy amount of added sugar every day. Researchers found that nearly all of the toddlers in their study ate an average of seven teaspoons of added sugar daily – the equivalent of a candy bar. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that excess sugar consumption can lead to an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Children under age 2 should not consume added sugar, recommends the AAP, and children ages 2-18 should aim for less than 25 grams, or six teaspoons, of added sugar per day.

If you’d like to cut down on the amount of added sugar in your family’s meals and snacks, consider cooking more at home, relying less on processed, packaged foods and serving only water or milk for beverages. Also, here are some ideas to help control the amount of added sugar you and your family consume:

Dip Smart

Herbs, spices, citrus and fresh fruit add flavor without relying on the added sugars found in many popular sauces and dips. Consider making your own low-sugar alternatives at home so your family can still enjoy favorite flavors like these:

Ranch Dressing – In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, buttermilk, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper for a kid-tested, nutritionist-approved take on a favorite dip. Serve over salad or as vegetable dip.

Honey Mustard – Popular on a variety of sandwiches and as a dip or salad dressing, combining plain yogurt with milk, honey and regular or Dijon mustard can create a more family-friendly version.

Teriyaki Sauce – Perfect for serving with healthier options like lo mein, chicken wraps or fried rice, a homemade version can be created using water, soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic powder and cornstarch slurry.

Swap Out Syrup

Pancakes are a popular breakfast option in many homes, but even the healthiest whole-grain pancake becomes a plateful of sugar if it’s doused in syrup. Try these toppings that are sweet and savory without the added sugar:

• Nut butter or seed butter (such as peanut, almond or sunflower) and banana slices
• Warm fruit compote (mix of warmed berries)
• Applesauce (no-sugar-added variety) and cinnamon
• Nut butter swirled into plain yogurt; mix in 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract to add a sweet flavor

Snack Sweet

Opting for less added sugar doesn’t mean avoiding sweet snacks altogether. These alternatives can still help satisfy those cravings:

• Applesauce with baked cinnamon pita triangles for dipping
• Toast topped with nut or seed butter, smashed banana and sprinkle of cinnamon
• Frozen fruit smoothies
• Plain yogurt topped with granola, nuts, seeds or fruit
• Apple slices with nut or seed butter

Source: Kindercare.com