Summertime is here!!!!!! Everyone is SO excited. Getting outside after being couped up in the house for months, secondary to weather, school etc. Summer is the time for rejuvenation. The Vitamin D from the sun helps improve your mood while strengthening your bones.
Summertime is full of so many great activities. From parks picnics, beach days, BBQ’s and pool parties, summer gives you a much-needed R & R time.
Another reason why summertime is so wonderful is because of the many fruits that are in season. Sugary watermelon, sweet strawberries, and colorful grapes are all readily available.
Here are some fun, healthy, and delicious treats I love to make in the summer!
This activity is great because children of all ages can have a great time. For younger children, I suggest using Bamboo skewers for safety reasons. For older children, you can use wooden skewers. This activity can be as simple as taking any fruit of your liking and putting it on a skewer! If the activity is too easy, you can grade this activity by first making a pattern, then having your child copy your fruit pattern. You can also draw a pattern on a piece of paper or dry erase board and see if your child is able to replicate the pattern. Fruit kebobs are delicious, healthy and fun!! You can snag a free download for this activity here!
Fruit smoothies are such a fantastic snack. After playing out in the sun, these smoothies are a great way to hydrate and cool off. I place my fruit in the freezer in bags, so they are ready to go into a blender. I use 1 cup of bananas, 2 cups of strawberries, 1 cup of milk (or substitute with alternative), ½ cup of plain vanilla yogurt, ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice, and 3 tablespoons of honey (or sweetener substitute). Place all ingredients in a blender. You can adjust the thickness by adding more milk. Sipping through a straw helps improve your child’s oral motor skills and oculomotor skills. Sipping a thicker liquid helps improve your child’s oral-motor strength for improved speech and language development.
Lemonade Ice Pops
While working with children with Sensory Dysfunction I have added various food items to their diet to help them. For example, if a child needs to improve their focus, I often tell parents to give their child something cold or sour. This Lemonade Ice Pop is so great because it is a healthy refreshing snack while simultaneously providing sensory input.
Make homemade lemonade and pour into popsicle mold trays (you can even make mini ones by using ice cube trays instead. Leave in the freezer for 6 hours or overnight. Have these as a snack prior to completing an activity that requires concentration.
Fun Fruit Salad
Using a melon baller, scoop various fruits such as watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe. Using a melon baller enhances your fine motor skills and wrist. These skills are essential for everyday function, from dressing, writing/coloring to opening objects. Prepare your fruit by cutting them in half then take out the seeds. Demonstrate how to use the melon baller. Place the melon baller deep into the fruit, rotate the melon baller all the way around. Place the fruit into a bowl and repeat.
Vegetable Cups To-Go
When we are hungry, we tend to eat things that might not be the healthiest. My advice is to have healthy choices packed ahead of time. With this preparation, you are giving yourself a nice advantage. Vegetable cups are delicious, healthy, and colorful allowing you to refresh without feeling guilty.
Slice carrots, celery, and varied colored bell peppers. Place in a cup (at home you can use glass or if traveling a snack cup). You can have a dip in a separate container. I use ranch dressing. You can encourage your child to dip any vegetable into the dressing to see which one they like the best.
Ants On A Log
This silly-sounding snack was always a kid favorite. Due to the simplicity, textures (soft and crunchy), flavors (salty and sweet) it is no wonder so many parents love this snack. Wash and dry a piece of celery, have your child spread peanut butter onto the celery “log”. Place raisins onto the log and enjoy. I have also used cream cheese on celery.
Jell-O is a fun snack that you can prepare in so many ways. You can pour it into molds, layers or put fun fruit into the center. You can have your child help make the Jell-O and watch it go from a liquid to solid. You can use this as a science teaching opportunity.
I LOVE yogurt parfaits. To me, it is such a healthy breakfast/snack. It tastes like a dessert without the guilt or calories. Usually, a parfait consists of yogurt, fruit, and a crunchy topping, such as granola. To make, simply place yogurt in the bottom of a cup. Add a layer of fruit, top with another layer of yogurt, fruit layer, and place granola on top. You can add hemp or chia seeds as well. I use a mix of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries for the fruit layer. This treat provides nutrition, calcium while satisfying hunger.
Summer weather provides an excellent opportunity to introduce cold foods and textures like ice and ice cream. What treats will you be trying??
Sarah Appleman MS, OTR/L is the author of “Play With Your Food” and is a specialist in her field.