November 8th, 2010
01:16 PM ET

iReport daily challenge: #BeAHero for healthy kids

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at

[Updated 11/8/10 at 12:10 p.m. ET ]

In response to yesterday’s challenge to “Be a hero for healthy kids,” we got tons of great suggestions for healthy kids’ snacks and meals. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Here are a few highlights:

-Dehydrated apples, bananas and tomatoes. "My baby granddaughter is almost two years old and she loves the fruit. It's about the only way she will eat fruit right now, besides baby food." –iReporter KCRep

-Red, White & Green Pizza Pinwheels: Whole wheat tortillas, marinara sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese, fresh spinach. “Layer the sauce, spinach and mozzarella onto the tortilla, roll tightly and slice into toddler-size pinwheels." –Livsmum07

-Chicken pitas: Shredded chicken, sliced cherry tomatos, spinach leaves, sliced sweet peppers, bean sprouts, and a chipotle hummus all stuffed into a pita pocket. –KJ

-Fruit and veggie smoothies: “Bananas, strawberries and blueberries as a base, with Greek yogurt and then some carrots and spinach. The key is to balance the fruits with the veggies. I've never had a complaint about the smoothie yet.” –Katyna

-Peanut butter happy face sandwiches: "A tablespoon of peanut butter spread on whole grain, then add a face: apple slices lips and ears, banana slices eyes with raisin pupils and eyebrows, a baby carrot halved for a nose. Let the kids make their own combos, just provide the face parts as above. Other good face parts are orange slices, sliced pears, shredded cabbage or coconut (nice hair), celery sticks, nuts, craisins, dried cherries, apricots, figs, prunes. Just tell them to choose carefully that they have to eat whatever they pick!" –Cindy Lou

-Jazzed up popcorn: 1 bag unflavored popcorn, 1 cup trail mix, 1/2 cup coconut, salt to taste – Jill

-"My kids could live happily with quinoa in every meal. I make it in veggie or chicken broth seasoned with garlic & cumin. Add garbanzo, tomatoes, bell pepper or eggplant for variety." –@Denicalifornia

For more ideas, check out these healthy-food sites from our readers:

[Original post] Last week came news that San Francisco officials will ban toys from McDonald's Happy Meals – and other restaurant kids meals – unless they improve the meals’ nutrition with fruits and vegetables by December 2011.

The decision by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is getting plenty of push-back from people who say the government shouldn’t force choices on them, or that parents, not fast-food chains, are to blame for fat children.

Let’s assume that parents want to do the right thing and just need a little help sometimes.

Today’s challenge is for the parents out there:

“Be a hero” for kids’ nutrition and share your favorite easy-to-make healthy kids’ snack or meal. It can homemade, store-bought or found on a restaurant menu.

Share your suggestions in the comments below, or tell us about it on iReport. We’ll showcase some of the best ideas tomorrow. And if you'd like to sound off on the McDonald's story, head on over here.

soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Fiona

    Also! Quick easy tip for chicken that can be used in multiple recipes. Throw some chicken breasts in the crockpot, pour enough salsa to cover the top of chicken then let cook for 4 hours or so. Pull out the chicken, shred with 2 forks, then mix up with salsa juices in the crockpot. Seasoned chicken that can be used for quesadillas, enchiladas, salads, burritos, soups, etc.!

    November 8, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. more food quiz

    Under what President was gluttony made legal in the USA?

    November 8, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Juan Carlos de Burbon

    Most foods today are enriched. So it really doesn't matter which ones you give your kids. Milk is enriched because it isn't effective by itself. Bread is enriched because that too is ineffective and lacks nutrients.

    Additionally, what is involved in our diets? Does anyone know? Only three things: sugars, fats and protein. You NEED all three of these things to have a balanced diet. Ironically, kids CAN eat fast food and such along with a balanced diet. And balanced doesn't mean low-fat, low-calorie or low-anything-else. What our kids lack is exercise. They don't ride their bikes to school or walk home from school because parents are too paranoid and MUST pick them up from school and drive them home. Why don't the overweight parents walk them home from school? Oh, yeah, it takes too long.

    We are focusing on the wrong things. Get up, get out, and move. Being a healthy hero means going out and playing with your kids. This doesn't mean standing around with the other fat, bloated parents, but hiking, biking and swimming with your kids.

    Don't vilify fast food as you're driving through the drive-thru super-sizing fries while you're picking your kids up from school.

    Geeze, focus on being productive not on pointing the finger at someone else.

    November 8, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. appalled

    I think you can teach your grandson to be healthy without teaching him to be cruel and judgmental. There's no excuse for mocking other children and calling them disgusting. Period.

    November 8, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. melody

    I occasionally allow my children to have McDonald's Happy Meals. But, I don't agree that it is the McDonald's corporation's responsibility to police what we give our children. Last time I checked, those of the age that seem to want the Happy Meals still needed a RIDE to the resturaunt. As well as MONEY to purchase said Happy Meal. Really people. if you are a bad parent and don't care about the welfare of your children, jsut take responsibility for it! At least I can say that YES, I do allow my 4 and year olds the occasional fast food. And about the toy in the meal, come on!!!! For the amount of $$$ you spend on one of those nutritional landmines, you should get SOMETHING out of it.

    November 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cesar

    I often order two McDoubles, a side salad, and small drink. I love ice water. I trash the bread and put the meat on the salad. Try it, you might like it.

    November 8, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. The Dude

    You're right...what was I thinking! Morbidly obese children are just sooooo cute and cuddly!

    And I DO tell him to NOT make fun of or mock them to their face or to make fun of them with other children... but I do call a spade a spade.

    November 8, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Katie @ Healthnut Foodie

    My two most important tips to helping kids eat healthy is to get them involved in the preparation process and to lead by example. I don't believe that you should "sneak" vegetables into foods, I believe that you should help children celebrate the fact that they are healing their bodies by adding vegetables into a dish they already know and love.

    As a healthy eating expert , foodie, and consultant, I often have to remind parents that the foods that taste good to us on a Monday may not be as appitizing on a Wednesday. The same is true for our children. I believe that if we offer them healthy choices, and if they see us eating healthy choices, they will eventually come around. Example: During warm weather, I love to enjoy an iced coffee in the early afternoon. It looks tasty and inviting. Everytime I make it, my almost three year old asks for a taste. I watch her barely take a sip, swallow it down (with a very non- happy face), and then say, "Mommy, I love your coffee." She does not love my coffee. She does love enjoying the things I enjoy. If our children repeatedly see us choosing real food over junk food, they will eventually come to enjoy it. After all, did any of us actually enjoy coffee, wine, or brussel sprouts the first time we tasted them?

    As far as my go to healthy eating recipes, I've got several up my sleeve! First up, 5- minute hummus chicken salad (recipe at ). I've found that when you take the time to chop up the veggies and then toss them in the hummus, little eaters are much more likely to gobble them up than when you give them large pieces to dip. Another recipe that I wrote for is my Greek Chicken and Veggie Orzo Pilaf. You basically take kid-friendly veggies, cooked chicken, Greek yogurt, and toss them with some simple seasonings. My little girls' favorite healthy lunch is hands-down black bean, (shredded) zucchini, and (hormone-free) cheese quesadillas, and for a final well rounded perfection, I suggest you prepare fruit and yogurt pasta parfailts (toss prepared noodles with fruit yogurt and diced peaches or berries). Happy eating!

    Find more of Katie's tasty recipes, tips, and techniquest at

    Do my girls like McDonalds? I don't know, I've never taken them there.

    November 8, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. The Dude

    And what ever happened to the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness? It was one of President Kennedy's better ideas.

    Want healthier kids? Bring back REAL P.E.

    November 9, 2010 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. phil

    The Dude...good question. Remember the council's shirt rating system? If you were in exceptional shape you were awarded a gold T-shirt and wore it proudly. A purple shirt denoted you were above avg...and so on 'till you arrived at the dreaded white-shirt. These were handed out to those who had a hard time doing just a few push-ups and were never worn. I often wondered what those few fat kids did with them. We used to joke that they wiped their fat butts with them. I say "few" because their were very few fat kids back then. Now there are so many that fully 10% of US have type-2 diabetes. This program was probably discontinued because we couldn't import enough white T-shirts to meet the demand.

    November 9, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • The Dude


      I don't remember the t-shirts. But I went to parochial school were they may not have been as keen on this. And now that I think about it, I don't remember much P.E... must have been the uniforms... and I can't picture nuns in sweat suits back then.

      I do remember finally getting real P.E. once I got to public school.

      November 9, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Elaine Irwin

    Where is parental control? Why must government interfere with the free market. Perhaps the government should prohibit the purchase of salt laden, calorie rich prepared food, junk food and sugar drinks with food stamps from grocery stores with our tax dollars.

    What's next? A scale and body mass index chart dictating which foods Americans can buy.

    November 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
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