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Whole Grains for Children: A Disappearing Act
By Lisa Sasson

Getting kids to eat healthy foods can be a daily battle for many parents. Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) changed the food pyramid to include more whole grains, many moms and dads have become particularly focused on incorporating more whole grains into their children’s diets.

Lisa Sasson, consulting nutritionist for Mueller’s Pasta and clinical assistant professor in New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, believes that it is sometimes possible to “hide” whole grains in preparing meals for children – allowing parents to rest easy and kids to still enjoy the foods they love. She shares the following tips:

· For breakfast, if you children insist on their favorite “kid cereal” use 3/4 of a healthy whole grain cereal and top it with your child’s favorite sweet cereal variety.

· For variety include low sugar, hot whole grain cereals such as oatmeal.

· Use multi-grain pasta and find ways to include pasta in meals other than dinner. A cold pasta salad makes a great lunch. Throw a few handfuls of multi-grain rotini into your next batch of chicken soup.

· Add whole grain cereal to dishes such as meat loaf, and meat balls. It won’t alter the taste and kids can still enjoy these delicious meals

· Use half whole wheat flour/half white flour in cakes and baked goods. Talk about a sweet way for kids to get their whole grains; they’ll never notice the difference.

· Save some whole grain bread that is a few days old and make it into bread crumbs. You can add your favorite spices. They work just as well on chicken breasts, fish filets or in meatballs.

· Ease your kids into eating whole grain bread. Serve them their next peanut butter and jelly sandwich using a slice each of whole grain and white or try a whole grain white variety.

· Switch to whole grain snacks such as popcorn, low fat tortilla chips and whole grain crackers.

Lisa Sasson, MS, RD. is a clinical assistant professor in New York University's Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health. In this role she directs the graduate clinical master's program, dietetic internship and NYU's study abroad in Tuscany. She also teaches a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses including Sports Nutrition and Diet Assessment and Planning. In addition to her work at NYU, Lisa counsels private clients in healthy eating, sports nutrition, weight management and eating disorders. She is a frequent commentator in many television and print media such as Allure, Self, Prevention and on the A&E Network.

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