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active kids kid Adventures in the Kitchen: Fourth Meal By: Chris Palmquist

If you have active kids, you know how hard it is to keep them adequately fueled on healthy foods. My kids arrive home from school, proclaim, “I’m starv- ing,” and start foraging in the kitchen for food. T ey will grab the easiest food that they see that they like. Because they then go to one or two hour long sports practices, this “fourth meal” has to give them easily digestible, concentrated energy that will last for the next three or four hours. T is snack really is much more like a second lunch or a fi rst dinner.

For my kids, this fourth meal has lacked variety. T ey seem to pick the foods that they like and that require no preparation. After a while, I realized that at least a quarter of their daily calories came from this repetitive meal of bagels, yogurt, bananas, apples, peanut butter and pasta (from the ever-present bowl of noodles in the refrigerator). T e key to a healthy diet comes from getting a wide variety of colorful foods that are bal- anced in carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. My kids were eating mostly colorless carbohydrates in this important meal each day.

Amy Kubal, a Registered Dietician specializing in sports performance, believes that the key to good nu- trition comes from eating a variety of “real food.” T is means that we should attempt to stay away from pro- cessed food that comes in containers like boxes and instead focus on nutrient-fi lled foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, dairy, meats and fi sh. One problem with “all pasta, all the time” is that you are missing out on a chance to get a bigger variety of nutrients

from colorful fruits and veggies, as well as protein for muscular repair and healthy fats.

T e trick is to make these more nutritious foods tempt- ing to the hungry kid who doesn’t want to spend more than ten seconds in food preparation. “Make healthy foods available,” says Kubal. Wash and cut up vegetables and fruits ahead of time and display them prominently in the refrigerator or out on the table for them. Leftover baked potatoes can be easily micro-waved and stuff ed with vegetables and cheese. Make chili, soups and stews and freeze individual portions in muffi n cups so that kids can take what they want out of the freezer, heat and eat. Show the kids how to prepare cottage cheese or greek yogurt with fruit and a drizzle of honey. Have hard boiled eggs, olives, preservative-free jerky and cheese sticks handy to grab. Buy trail mix or have the kids make their own special mix of healthy nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut fl akes and maybe a little chocolate. Have almond butter and sunfl ower butter for spreading on apples or bananas or celery. Scramble eggs with veg- etables and cheese and serve wrapped in a corn tortilla.

By the way, all of these ideas will work just as well for breakfast – that other challenging meal of the day for active kids and their parents.

“You have to give kids seven to ten exposures of a new food before kids will learn to like it,” says Kubal. Pre- pare new foods diff erent ways to help kids learn that they like it. Don’t give up. Make this a priority for the health of your kids. I know I will.

Wheaton Swim Club, races triath- lons for MMTT, plays basketball and runs. As a swimmer, he par- ticipated in the Age Group State Championships as an eight, nine and 10-year-old during the short and long course seasons. Man- drell swam for Team Illinois in the Central Zone Championships in 2011 and he placed at the Illinois/ Missouri YMCA State Swimming Championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Mandrell just started running 5Ks and has a PR of 22:39.

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athlon, he placed in his age group in the Multisport Madness Kids’ Tri- athlon, the Hy-Vee Ironkids Tri, the Jayhawk Tri and the Pleasant Prai- rie Junior Triathlon. Mandrell also plays cello in the orchestra, sings in the chorus and is an excellent student. He loves playing with his sisters (Tyler and Emerson) and is a huge Chicago Bears and Black- hawks fan.

Chicago Athlete magazine’s Active Kids section is proud to be the Media Partner for the Tri-Masters Sports Initiative Programs.

Check out their Web site, for more info. 24 JANUARY 2012 MYCHICAGOATHLETE.COM

athlete of the month


Gage Mandrell Gage Mandrell, a fi fth grader at Wheaton’s Wiesbrook Elementary School, is no ordinary 10-year- old.

Mandrell swims for the

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