5 tips to get your family to eat right during the school year

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The school year is back in full swing for many, which can mean chaotic mornings, activity-filled afternoons and stressful evenings. Compared to the relaxed days of summer, this turning point in the year can feel so busy that focusing on getting your family to eat well can (and often does) totally fall by the wayside. Luckily, television personality and nutrition expert Joy Bauer knows just the tricks to put your family on the right track throughout the year (without sacrificing any more of that precious time)!

Check out the slideshow below for Joy's tips to get your family to eat right during the busy school year:
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5 tips to get your family to eat right during the busy school year
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5 tips to get your family to eat right during the school year

Eat Good Fats

"Fat is back, fat is in, fat is good," television personality and nutrition expert Joy Bauer shares. "It helps steady your blood sugar, it helps flavor your food [and] it keeps you satiated so that you don’t overeat at lunch or at dinner." While good fats are beneficial, Joy points out that you do have to watch the amount you're eating so that it doesn't backfire and cause weight gain. 

So, which fats should you consume? "There are plenty of good fats," Joy says. "Avocado, which is great, because you can use it as a spread on toast, you can make yummy guacamole, and then it can be a vehicle for getting your kids to eat more vegetables."

Joy also recommends nuts and seeds, whether you incorporate them into trail mixes or add them on top of parfaits. "Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are really becoming mainstay again," she says. 

Joy also recommends getting buttery spreads into your diet. "A lot of people automatically clump margarine with buttery spreads, and they’re totally different," she says. "The buttery spreads are made with plant-based oils." With so many people looking to cut calories and watch their weight, Joy likes the fact that buttery spreads like Country Crock can give you that creamy, buttery taste with few calories. "I do a lot of things with that, [like] sautéing apples with brown cinnamon and [putting] them in parfaits with non-fat Greek yogurt," she says.

Photo credit: Getty

Go Homemade!

Joy points out that you don't have to spend a whole lot of time and energy in the kitchen to come up with really delicious, kid-friendly options. She suggests something as simple as taking a whole grain tortilla, layering it with some lettuce, sliced tomato, turkey and Swiss cheese, rolling it up and cutting it into pinwheels. "I think that parents are brown bagging and putting more thought into what they’re making, which is really cool," Joy says.

Photo credit: Getty 

Make Energizing Snacks

Adults and kids alike can always use extra energy in the afternoon, and Joy says the best type of snack to eat is one that combines protein and fiber to help stabilize your blood sugar and give you that extra boost you need.

While she admits that "nothing can beat a good cup of coffee," Joy also suggests green and black teas, which have half the caffeine as a cup of coffee. "So for parents who have trouble falling asleep at night, it’s the perfect gentle boost of caffeine, versus having a full cup of coffee and tossing and turning," she shares. 

In terms of snacks, Joy recommends things like nutrition bars and low-sugar tail mixes -- which you can make yourself. "[Grab] a handful of whole grain cereal for the fiber, a handful of nuts for the protein and for the fiber, and then some dried fruit (one or two tablespoons). If you want to get fancy, sprinkle in some dark chocolate. [You've] got to love those flavonoids for brainpower and blood pressure control."

Joy also likes to make energizing smoothies. "The ultimate energizing smoothie for a mom would be to take some sort of frozen fruit, like frozen mango chunks for fiber, and non-fat Greek yogurt for protein, and then for the liquid, use a half a cup of brewed green or black tea. So then you get the caffeine, the protein and the fiber. That’s a perfect energizing smoothie," she shares.

"Also, I like anything with peanut butter," Joy recommends. "For kids, what’s really good is that if you take a banana, slice it lengthwise, and put a little bit of nut butter in the middle. Close the top, cut it into wheels and put it in the freezer for a couple of hours. Then you have this really yummy frozen peanut butter banana treat. Again, it has the protein, it has the fiber, and it takes a while to eat, which is really nice."

Photo credit: Getty

Nail Down Healthy Go-To Dinners 

Joy stresses that families are so overscheduled today that it's easy to get into a funk when it comes to dinner. Rotating through the same three unhealthy meals, like tossing chicken nuggets into the oven or making a box of macaroni and cheese, is not the way to go if you want to put your family on a healthy path. "If you just take the time to come up with a short list of five super simple healthy recipes that you can whip together in under 15 minutes, you would be so far ahead of the game" Joy shares. "For me, I can whip up a grilled, un-breaded chicken parmesan in 15 minutes flat. I do the chicken in oil spray on the pan, and then I put marinara sauce and reduced fat mozzarella cheese [on top]. While it’s under the broiler I open up a bag of mixed greens and [pour] a little light salad dressing on top, and you have this unbelievable meal that you just put together very fast."

Joy also suggests making turkey tacos or turkey burgers, sautéing vegetables in Country Crock buttery spread and pairing it with chicken or fish, or making omelets for dinner. "I do omelets all the time," she says. "I pick one whole egg with two to three egg whites, and I’ll put in the kitchen sink. Leftover vegetables, a sprinkling of reduced-fat cheese, and then you just serve it with a couple slices of whole grain toast."

Joy also points out that it doesn't have to be a gourmet meal every night. "You have to come up with your five go-to meals and make sure you have the ingredients for at least a couple of all of them on hand at any time during the week, and then you’re good to go."

Photo credit: Getty

Make Dessert Nutritious

"I always say that when it comes to sweets, if you can ensure a little nutrition comes along with the sugar rush, then you’re in good shape," Joy says. There are a bunch of ways dessert can play double duty as nutrition as well. 

TODAY Show anchor Natalie Morales once dared Joy to get her kids to eat greens, so Joy came up with her Purple Power Pops. "I made these ice pops and I added spinach, and they did not detect a thing. They just thought that they were amazing ice pops, and they’re so easy to make!" 

If you try simple tricks like Joy did with her ice pops, you don't have to feel bad giving kids a treat, and they won't feel dessert-deprived. Even if you buy prepared desserts, Joy points out that opting for something like pudding at least has the benefit of calcium. If you're giving your kids ice cream, she suggests tossing some fresh fruit on top. As she told us, it's a great way to get your kids to consider fruit as a dessert.

Photo credit: Getty

Check out some of Joy's recipes for your whole family to enjoy below.

Breakfast:

After-school snacks:

Dinner:

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Back to school supplies inspiration:
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Back to school - supplies inspiration
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5 tips to get your family to eat right during the school year

Click through this slideshow for some back to school supply inspiration before you hit the stores. 

(Photo via Getty)

Make sure your young artist has plenty of colored pencils this school year. 

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Any budding mathlete needs a protractor, compass, and plenty of pencils. 

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Be sure to stay organized with plenty of binders and file folders!

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A neat desk starts with all the right supplies in all the right places.

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Make sure you snag a pencil holder to keep track of all your writing utensils. 

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Gearing up for art class? Grab a new set of paint brushes before the school year begins.

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Composition notebooks are a must for any young writer.

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Make sure to get a stylish but sturdy new backpack to carry all these supplies!

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An assignment notebook or planner is sure to help you get everything done on time.

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Don't forget an iconic pink eraser! Pencil-top erasers are never enough.

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And of course, don't forget to assure all summer reading is finished before the first day!

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