UM Nutrition Expert Shares Healthy Snack Tips for Children

Good nutrition principles are fundamental for proper diet

Dr. Laurel Lambert, child nutrition expert, says all snacks should follow "basic nutrition principles.”

Laurel Lambert, child nutrition expert, explains how all snacks should follow ‘basic nutrition principles.’

OXFORD, Miss. – Combating the state’s obesity epidemic starts with teaching our children the principles of healthy eating, which is the focus of Laurel Lambert, associate professor of nutrition and hospitality management at the University of Mississippi.

While Lambert’s past experiences as a registered dietitian include medical nutrition therapy and institutional food services, her research focus is child nutrition.

“To get children excited about nutrition and meals is very rewarding,” Lambert said. “For example, a director of child nutrition in schools has an impact on students’ health from the time they enter the school until they leave.”

Along with school meals, schools also often prepare afternoon snacks. Healthy snacks can be prepared and consumed both in and out of school with a little nutrition know-how.

“Snacks are a great choice because children have little stomachs,” Lambert said. “We don’t want them to eat until they’re stuffed. In the past, I’ve worked with child nutrition development researchers, and they found that by age 5, children can lose the skill to identify when they’ve eaten too much, so snacks can teach basic feeding principles.

“You want to develop healthy snacks based on good nutrition principles. The goal is to learn the principles of nutrition and apply them to snacks. These are good starters, not a definitive list, but a list that can guide parents and children to make healthy choices.”

Healthy Homemade Snacks for Children

(Examples taken from the USDA’s Choose My Plate initiative)

  1. Trail Mix (dried fruit, unsalted nuts and popcorn): “Dried fruit is high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. For unsalted nuts, I prefer almonds, but cashews and pistachios are also good sources of nutrients. Popcorn is important because it can be prepared as a low-fat food, which decreases the overall calories of the snack. Plus, popcorn provides bulk and makes it more filling.”
  2. Veggie Sticks with Hummus: “Made from chick peas, hummus has become popular as a spread for different vegetables. It goes well with celery or carrots. It can even be placed on whole-grain crackers and pita bread.”
  3. Fruit Kabobs: “Fruit kabobs are prepared using a variety of fruit – bananas, apples, watermelon, cantaloupe or grapes, to name a few. I suggest having your child help with preparation. Your child can begin to learn knife skills, decide on the types of fruit to use and the order the fruit appears on the stick, therefore becoming involved with the food he or she eats.”
  4. Apple Wedge with Turkey: “Child nutrition programs often make snacks interesting by combining foods. You’re not just giving a child an apple; you’re giving him or her an apple wedge with a good source of protein, such as turkey. Luckily, fresh turkey is low-sodium by nature. It’s also important to notice that this is an apple wedge. We’re serving children, and it may be difficult to bite and chew on a whole apple. They need something easy to handle for their snack.”
  5. Peanut Butter Fruit-wich (whole-grain bread, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, thinly sliced apple or banana): “If you have the chance to choose whole-grain over wheat, go for it. Whole-grain means the child is getting the complete grain, including the germ and the bran for extra fiber, vitamins and minerals. Only 2 tablespoons of peanut butter because portion control is important.”
  6. Ants on a Log (thinly spread peanut butter on celery sticks, topped with a row of raisins): “Ants on a log is always popular. Children enjoy it because of its name and the way it looks, and they have a fun time preparing it, too.”

“All of these snacks follow basic nutrition principles,” Lambert said. “They contain vitamins, minerals, high fiber, low sodium and low saturated fat.”

Parents should consider serving healthy beverages to their children, including water and 100-percent juice, she said. “Juice should never replace water because of the calories. However, a 1/2-cup of juice for breakfast or with a snack is a good choice.”

Finally, it is important to follow a snack schedule when feeding your child, Lambert said.

“After children come home from school, they are probably hungry,” she explained. “Having a snack prepared is a good choice. The easier you make it, the more likely the child is going to eat it.”

UM Dietitians, Students Provide Tools to Get Healthy, Lose Weight

New clinic offers nutrition counseling, healthy recipe cooking demonstrations

Photo

Caitlin Mondelli, a senior dietetics and nutrition major at the University of Mississippi from Franklin, Tenn., shows members of the UM Nutrition Clinic

OXFORD, Miss. – When Oxford resident Scott Knight jotted down his short-term goal to “lose 70 pounds” as part of the University of Mississippi Nutrition Clinic’s first-ever weight loss class, he wasn’t even sure it was possible.   At 55, Knight had been diagnosed with high blood pressure and was taking medication for high cholesterol. His blood sugar levels were borderline diabetic. He knew he wanted to get healthier, so he enrolled in the 12-week class.   “The class showed me that at any age, you can live healthier,” said Knight, who has since dropped 65 pounds, has normal blood sugar levels and is prescribed half the blood pressure medication he needed before. “We took a number of steps; one thing is just learning what you’re eating and paying attention to that. We had to learn good choices.”

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UM Dietitians, Students Provide Tools to Get Healthy, Lose Weight

New clinic offers nutrition counseling, healthy recipe cooking demonstrations

Caitlin Mondelli, a senior dietetics and nutrition major at the University of Mississippi from Franklin, Tenn., shows members of the UM Nutrition Clinic's health class how to poach an egg. UM photo by Robert Jordan.

OXFORD, Miss. – When Oxford resident Scott Knight jotted down his short-term goal to “lose 70 pounds” as part of the University of Mississippi Nutrition Clinic’s first-ever weight loss class, he wasn’t even sure it was possible.   At 55, Knight had been diagnosed with high blood pressure and was taking medication for high cholesterol. His blood sugar levels were borderline diabetic. He knew he wanted to get healthier, so he enrolled in the 12-week class.   “The class showed me that at any age, you can live healthier,” said Knight, who has since dropped 65 pounds, has normal blood sugar levels and is prescribed half the blood pressure medication he needed before. “We took a number of steps; one thing is just learning what you’re eating and paying attention to that. We had to learn good choices.”

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Oxford Family Makes Gift to Endow UM Scholarship for Nutrition and Hospitality Management Department

Vasilyevs support first endowed fund for fast-growing department

The Vasilyev siblings have established the
first endowment for the UM Department of Nutrition and Hospitality
Management. Pictured are (from left) Wendell Weakley, president of
UM Foundation; Velmer Burton, dean of School of Applied Sciences;
Kathy Knight, interim chair of nutrition and hospitality
management; Bob Vasilyev; Rita Vasilyev; Scott Vasilyev and his
wife, Candace; Renee Sholtis and her husband, Jonny; and Joey
Vasilyev. UM photo by Kevin Bain.

OXFORD,
Miss. – Like most parents, Bob and Rita Vasilyev are rarely
surprised by the actions of their three adult children. ;
So the Oxford couple was not stunned when the trio committed
$130,000 to the University of Mississippi’s Department of Nutrition
and Hospitality Management, establishing the department’s first
endowment in their family’s name. ; Instead, Bob Vasilyev,
president of Vasco Properties Inc., nodded in agreement as Scott
Vasilyev (BSFCS ’01), their second-oldest, discussed why he
supports academics at Ole Miss. Rita Vasilyev (BMEd ’71),
co-publisher of the Oxford Eagle, smiled encouragingly when Renee
Sholtis (BA ’97), her oldest and slightly shyer child, joined the
conversation. And the couple shared a laugh when Joey Vasilyev
(BSFCS ’03), the jokester of the family, discussed the beginnings
of the family’s food service business.

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Kellogg Foundation Grant Funds Healthy-Living Initiative in Mississippi Delta Elementary Schools

OXFORD, Miss. – When University of Mississippi nutritionist Janie Cole explained to a group of elementary school students in the Delta that diabetes is, in many cases, preventable, she saw an instant reaction. “The children straightened up in their seats, and you could see the light bulbs going off in their heads,” said Cole, a registered dietitian. “I knew we were going to make a difference. It was a defining moment.” With the help of a $150,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the UM Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management is working to increase these moments. The grant funds the department’s four-year-old Eating Good … and Moving Like We Should initiative, a collaborative program between UM and New York-based nonprofit ‘nPlay Foundation to combat childhood obesity in the Delta.

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Nutrition and Hospitality Management Students to Host Family Nutrition Fair

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi students will help educate parents about proper nutrition and lead children in fun activities designed to get them excited about healthy eating at the inaugural Oxford Family Nutrition Fair this weekend. Set for 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday (April 21) at the Oxford Park Commission Activity Center, the fair is led and planned by students in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management and the Community Nutrition class. The event is free and open to the public. Aimed primarily at educating families and preventing childhood obesity, the fair will focus on family nutrition education and will offer free, fun educational activities related to child nutrition and growth. Students will measure children and educate parents on how to monitor their child’s growth and development.

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UM Seeking Recipes for ‘Rebel Recipes Lite’ Cookbook

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management is seeking recipe submissions for its latest cookbook project, “Rebel Recipes Lite.” The book, which focuses on healthy cooking, is a follow-up to the popular “Rebel Recipes,” a collection of nearly 2,000 of the Ole Miss community’s favorite dishes.

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UM Grad Student Earns Top Honors

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi graduate student in food and nutrition services has earned a top honor from the Mississippi Dietetic Association.

Laura Blair of Jackson will be recognized as the Outstanding Coordinated Program in Dietetics Student of the Year during the MDA annual conference, scheduled for Thursday and Friday (March 8-9) in Hattiesburg.

Offered in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management in the School of Applied Sciences, the Coordinated Program includes coursework and a yearlong internship component, plus a thesis option. Teachers and preceptors are invited to submit recommendations to the MDA when they deem a student is worthy to receive the statewide honor. The student with the most recommendations is chosen.Read the story …

School of Applied Sciences Helps Launch Successful Wellness Program for Employees at Batesville Plant

… Program gives UM students real-world experience as health coaches

Alyssa Ashmore, a University of Mississippi graduate student working on her master's degree in food and nutrition services, leads a 10-10-10 exercise class at the GE Aviation Plant in Batesville. The GE employees work on 10 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of strength training and 10 minutes of abdominal work. Other classes offered include zumba, yoga/pilates and circuit blast. UM photo by Nathan Latil.

New Year’s resolutions usually include some form of weight-loss or healthy living goal. For employees at the GE Aviation plant in Batesville, that resolution is made easier by an employee wellness program run by the University of Mississippi. In April of 2010, GE contacted the School of Applied Sciences about developing a worksite wellness program utilizing UM graduate students. “GE hired a team to do biometric screening for metabolic syndrome, testing blood work, height and weight, and identified the at-risk people and decided that’s the area we wanted to focus on,” said Melinda Valliant, assistant professor of nutrition and hospitality management and principal investigator for the project. “We used the data to plan the programs and assess outcomes.” The applied sciences students serve as health coaches, and Valliant said they have surpassed her expectations. “We didn’t go in with a canned program,” she said. “We developed a program based on the screening and what the employees asked for.” Some of those things included a grocery store tour, where they learned how to shop for healthy items. The program also includes individual and group exercise programs, and an on-site fitness center with elliptical trainers, treadmills and a walking track. Even the vending machines offer turkey sandwiches, fruit, diet drinks and fruit juices. “The fact is our students have done a great job,” Valliant said. “For a future registered dietician to work with this population is an invaluable experience. As a student to work in the real world and see real-world problems is important.”

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Haskins Family, Kappa Delta Sorority Create Scholarship to Memorialize Student

OXFORD, Miss. – From her Kappa Delta sorority sisters at the University of Mississippi and the young people she worked with at Camp Sunshine in Pike County to her own family members, the late Susan Haskins was known for her caring spirit. To carry forward that spirit, her parents, Don and Barri Haskins of Fernwood, and the sorority have created a scholarship as a lasting tribute to her life.

Haskins

Don Haskins (center) of Fernwood visits with Jim Taylor (from left), Teresa Carithers, Haley Huerta, Laura Katherine Henderson, Marcia Cole and Candis Varnell about the new Susan Christena Haskins Memorial Scholarship Endowment that will provide scholarships to hospitality management majors at the University of Mississippi School of Applied Sciences. Taylor, Carithers, Cole and Varnell represent the school, and Huerta and Henderson are members of Kappa Delta sorority. The scholarship is funded by Haskins and his wife, Barri, and the sorority. UM photo by Kevin Bain.

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