If you have found yourself in this situation, you are not alone. Many families have difficulty finding the time to prepare well-balanced, nutritious meals for their kids before heading out the door to swim practice or a competition. And, quite often, for the sake of convenience, the child is stuck with a less-than-healthy food option that lacks the energy or nutrients to help them have a great performance in the pool.
There is a solution, however, and it starts with…5 healthy meals that can be made in less than 5 minutes!
The time of swim practice can vary from family to family. Some are in the morning, while others are in the afternoon or evening. This means that healthy options must be available for each meal of the day: breakfast, lunch, and supper.
Putting together healthy, high-quality meals takes some planning and preparation. The first step is to make a list of foods from each of the food groups that are both nutritious and acceptable for your child. Working together, you and your child can create some healthy meal options by combining some of the foods in the list into a well-balanced meal. For example, a well-balanced meal could include a fruit or vegetable portion, a grain portion, and a protein portion. The next step is to head to the grocery store and purchase these items. Always choose fresh, wholesome foods with the least amount of processing. Finally, when back at home, take a few minutes to properly portion out the foods, store them, and have them ready to grab when needed. Now you are well-prepared and ready to feed your child in the short time before their swim.
Here are 5 great options for healthy, nutritious and well-balanced meals that you can make in less than 5 minutes for any time of the day:
1) Fruit, Yogurt & Granola Parfait!
Combine ¾ cup (175 mL) of low-fat yogurt with ¼ cup (60 mL) of granola. Using fresh fruit, such as blueberries, sliced strawberries, bananas, raspberries or kiwi, sprinkle a ½ cup (125 mL) of fruit over the top or mix it all together for a tasty, nutritious breakfast or snack option. Makes 1 serving.
2) Power Smoothie!
In a blender, add 1 ½ cups (375 mL) of fresh or frozen fruit, ½ cup (125 mL) of low-fat yogurt, 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of peanut butter (or other nut butter), 1 cup (250 mL) of spinach, and a ½ cup (125 mL) of low-fat milk or 100% juice. Blend all the ingredients together for a quick, healthy breakfast or snack option. Makes 1-2 servings.
3) Curried Chicken Salad Pita!
In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup (175 mL) of cooked, shredded chicken breast (perhaps, from supper the night before), ½ cup (125 mL) of low-fat yogurt, ½ of a diced apple, and 1 teaspoon (15 mL) of curry powder. In a whole-wheat pita, add 1 cup (250 mL) of spinach (or other leafy green vegetable) and the chicken mixture. You may also add some low-fat cheese. Wrap up the pita and enjoy as a quick, nutritious lunch or supper option. Makes 1-2 servings.
4) Peanut Butter & Jam Super Sandwich!
Using 2 pieces of whole grain or whole wheat bread, spread 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of 100% natural peanut butter (or other nut butter) and 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of strawberry, raspberry or other fruit spread (spreads have less sugar than jam or jellies). Add a piece of fresh fruit on the side and you have yourself a great option for any meals of the day. Makes 1 serving.
5) 5-Minute Black Bean Burgers!
Pre-heat skillet on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of olive or canola oil. In a mixing bowl, mash together 1 can of low-sodium, canned black beans (drain them first). Add a ¼ cup (60 mL) of onions, 1-2 slices of crumbled bread, and 1 teaspoon (15 mL) each of onion and garlic powder. Mix together, and make the patties with your hands. Place the patties in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and place on a whole-wheat bun. Enjoy this healthy burger option for lunch or supper. Makes 2-3 servings.
These are just a few quick, convenient and healthy options that you can make for your child before they head out for swim practice or a competition. They become even easier to make if you can prepare the items ahead of time and throw them all together when needed. And, remember to always include water with these meals to stay fully hydrated.
Contributor: Luke Corey, BA(H), BScAHN, Registered Dietitian