Feeding kids (at any age) is no walk in the park! My long time friend (and the FIRST mentor in the nutrition world that I ever had) Patricia Chuey is a Vancouver Island-based dietitian who is sharing her top tips for fueling active teens along with her amazing recipe for Apple Clafoutis!
Patricia has wowed me from the first day we met… which was when I was a nutrition student back in 1999 (oh my gosh, I feel ancient writing that!). Her no-nonsense practical approach to nutrition set the course for my own nutrition career (and so many others), and her kindness and support has meant the world to me. It’s a perfect example of women supporting women… the world needs more Patricias! It is an honour to have Patricia contribute this guest post to share her knowledge, both professional and personal (as a mom of a very active teen) on how to keep teens properly fuelled to help them grow and perform at their best! Check out this picture of her son Walt holding Charlie… man how time flies. I’ll let Patricia take it from here!
All these years into my professional life in food and nutrition I’m still a big fan of not letting too much time pass between ‘feedings’. There are just so many benefits (mood management, evening overeating prevention, steady energy…) in addition to ensuring all the required goodness is consumed each day.
Anyone feeding kids knows a steady pattern of quality meals and snacks is the answer to meltdown prevention. That generally goes for adults too. But it doesn’t mean constant nibbling. It’s better for digestion – and dental health too – to eat 3 well-balanced meals a day (at least half the plate as vegetables along with quality protein) and 2 or 3 yummy, nutritious snacks than to be grazing non-stop all day. With each meal and snack also include a glass of good ol’ water for hydration.
We’re a family of 3 but as avid fruit growers and hosts of constant kid hang outs, we have 3 freezers! Our son Walt, an always-on-the-go athlete, is 13. About 10 years ago, I began joking that I had better start saving up to fund the teenage nutrient requirements. That day is now here. For this age group, I’ve officially switched my M.O. of meal-snack-meal-snack-meal to meal-meal-meal-meal-meal-meal. The reason? When we reflect on meals versus snacks, we typically think of more sustenance and a greater nutrient balance. I also want Walt to know that leftover lunch or dinner is a better snack choice than many of the typical foods teens might opt for. A slice of homemade pizza, a hearty sandwich, leftover vegetable stir-fry or pancakes give him more to grow on than ‘snacky’ foods – like chips, cookies, slushy drinks, etc. Note that this approach is for highly active kids – those participating in lots of sports at the same time as growing at a rate as fast as they grew in those preschool years. A lot of top notch fuel is required. We’re still always following an 80-20 approach here too because food is more than just vitamins and minerals…it’s fun, flavour, memories, enjoyment and beyond.
14 Nutrient-dense whole food calorie boosters
Parents of athletic, growing teens know that any place a few extra calories can be tucked into meals is a good place. Here are a few of the ways we boost calories for our active teen:
- At least 1/3 cup of nuts or seeds added to a stir-fry or salad
- At least ¼ cup of nut butter added to smoothies (peanut butter-banana, coconut-almond and orange-cashew are great flavour combos)
- Pancakes, oatmeal and creamy soups made with whole milk instead of water
- Hummus as a sandwich spread in addition to butter
- Raw veggies always served with a dip like hummus or a higher % milk fat Greek yogurt-based dip
- Whole grain bread slices cut extra thick for sandwiches
- Trail mix made of cereal, dried fruit, lots of nuts and seeds
- Grated Parmesan or other cheese always served to garnish pasta meals
- 100% real fruit juice added to water for flavour and a few extra calories
- Always cooking in a quality vegetable oil, not just water or broth (olive oil and avocado oil are good choices among others!)
- Granola or equally calorie-dense cold cereal instead of flakes or puffs of rice, corn, etc.
- A couple tablespoons of hemp hearts added to smoothies, hot cereal, muffins or as a salad topper
- Dried fruit such as raisins or dried apricots stirred into hot cereal during the last few minutes of cooking
- Ripe avocado blended into green smoothies
Like Tori’s right hand man in the kitchen, Charlie and even Max now too, Walt has always been involved in making meals. I’m so glad we let him play around and muck up the kitchen as a little guy because he now has the skills to make many of his own meals. A great breakfast meal idea and one that is easy to whip up as an afterschool snack is clafouti. Walt likes to make it with cherries but we switched it up with a fall-friendly variation that is just as good! With a little coconut whip or ice cream, it can even double as a last-minute dessert if needed. We made it here with apples and cinnamon but you can substitute the apple mixture with 2 cups of any fruit like pitted fresh or frozen cherries, berries, or sliced peaches, leaving out the brown sugar and cinnamon.
Apple Cinnamon Clafoutis
Clafoutis is a baked French dessert of fruit, traditionally black cherries, arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. We added a fall twist on this classic dish using apples and cinnamon that can be served for brunch or dessert!
- 1 teaspoon butter or coconut oil
- 4 free range eggs
- 1 tablespoon sugar or sweetener of choice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk of choice 2%, almond milk, soy milk
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 2 cups thinly sliced peeled apple
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- powdered sugar (optional)
- vanilla Greek yogurt for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 425ᵒF and lightly oil a shallow 10-inch baking dish or cast-iron pan with the butter or coconut oil.
In a medium bowl using a whisk or hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat together the eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, and milk until smooth. Beat in the flour and pour into the prepared baking dish.
In another medium bowl, toss together the apple slices, brown sugar and cinnamon to combine. Arrange the apples evenly (no pattern is necessary) over the top of the flour mixture. They will sink, so not to worry.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the batter puffs up and the top is slightly golden.
Serve warm. If desired, top with a dusting of powdered sugar and Greek yogurt for even more protein and nutrients for those growing teens!
A personal note from Patricia: Tori and I met over 20 years ago when she was a nutrition student volunteer in my private practice in Vancouver, BC. I knew she was a star back then. She became a dear friend. I love nothing more than seeing colleagues soar and go on to inspire me. I’m forever grateful to Tori and wish her continued success. She is so truly genuine and deserving.