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Good eats for your kids

Phil Lempert shares a look at some fun, healthy alternatives to jazz up your child’s diet.
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Most parents want their kids to eat and enjoy healthy foods, but getting the kids agree with that isn’t always so easy. But help is on the way. On NBC’s “Today” show, contributor Phil Lempert shares a look at some tasty treats that might both appeal to the younger set and replace some not-so-healthy snacks. He files his report from Hawken School in Lyndhurst, Ohio.

THE IDEA HERE is not so much to deny kids the things they’ve grown to adore, but to show them that there are healthy products and foods they may like every bit as much and that are more nutritionally sound than highly-processed snack items. None of these products would constitute a meal on its own, but any could replace a less nutritious item they may already have in their diet.

TROPICANA SMOOTHIES These are premade bottles of yogurt and juice, in four flavors (peach, orange, strawberry, mixed berry), that are intended as a breakfast on the go item. They also make a good healthy snack. Each smoothie has 25 percent of the RDA of calcium, substantial protein, fiber, vitamins, and folic acid. Each one has about 250 calories and they are easily packed in a lunch or can be sipped on the school bus or in the car.

You have to taste one of these. They’re really different from a container of yogurt, and for a kid they’re much more like a treat item than a little yogurt would be. And as far as breakfast goes, this is much better than a Pop Tart.

ANNIES SALAD DRESSINGS This family-run company from Vermont makes a variety of salad dressings, barbecue sauces and marinades. They have four dressings that are not specifically made for kids but will have a lot of appeal for kids. The bottles alone are festive and fun looking. I think that a kid would be a lot more likely to eat a salad if he or she could pour on one of these Annie’s Dressings:

Cowgirl Ranch

Tutti Fruitti

Pizza Pie

These would also make good sauces for dipping fresh veggies. The ingredients are natural and in most cases organic. The company also sponsors a “Salads for Schools” program to encourage healthy eating in schools.

REPUBLIC OF TEA PANDA BERRY TEA The package is sweet, and the product is great. A pitcher of this in the fridge would be a terrific alternative to high calorie, high sugar sodas and fruit juices. It is naturally decaffeinated, with a hint of honey and cherry/strawberry flavors. Of course kids would be better off drinking water but this would make a much better thirst quencher than a Coke or a drink box of Hi-C.

MELISSA’S PRODUCE: BABY PINEAPPLES, BABY WATERMELONS, RED BANANAS We should all be eating more produce — fruits and vegetables — and one way to encourage kids to eat more is to introduce new and fun fruit items. We’ve got tiny bananas, red and yellow, baby watermelons and baby pineapples. Generally these exotics are more expensive than the regular supermarket variety but the idea is to encourage tasting new things and to have some fun with fruits and to show kids that this stuff can in some cases taste as good as candy. You will be amazed at how flavorful and sweet these items are.

SENECA APPLE CHIPS These aren’t really new but they sure are good. As an alternative to potato chips or pretzels, these are delicious. They come in several flavors including Cinnamon, Red and Golden Delicious, Caramel, Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Sour Apple. However, you’ve got to watch the portion size as these aren’t particularly low in calories. They’re about 140 calories for a one-ounce portion, with 60 of those calories from fat, but they do supply some vitamin C, and there’s no question that this product is a healthier alternative to potato chips.

LAGUNA TUNA SPREAD This is not really a kids’ product, however we’re including it as a way to encourage kids to try new versions of things they already like, like tuna fish. This spread is made from tuna, and is a little stronger-tasting. It could be spread on crackers, celery or other vegetables. It’s probably a little spicy for the younger set, but it might appeal to older kids and it supplies omega-3 fish oil and has no additives or preservatives.

DAVID BURKE GOURMET SMOKED SALMON POPS These are made as an elegant appetizer by the chef from Smith and Wollensky, but we figured that anything on a stick has a certain appeal to kids, and these are really tasty. It is a strip of smoked salmon wrapped around a cream cheese center. You wouldn’t make a meal out of it, but as a little treat or as a way to show a kid that not all fish tastes yukky, these might do the trick.

Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru®, analyzes the food marketing industry to keep consumers up-to-date about cutting-edge marketing trends. He is a regular “Today” show contributor, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and host of Shopping Smart of the WOR Radio Network. For more food and health information, you can check out Phil’s Web site at: