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When it comes to health, it isn’t always easy for kids and families to navigate the facts. Health’s Up is a podcast that explores health choices through child voices. In a new series all about stress, join our host, pediatric nurse practitioner Kristi Westphaln, and middle schoolers at Mary Bethune School in Cleveland as we explore the science behind stress, easy ways to cope, and how to build a community of support even in these virtual times. Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher | Spotify | Feed

Healthy Waldorf Salad Snack Attack | Health's Up

Nar'Velle, a student in Mrs. Simpson's class at Marion-Sterling Elementary in Cleveland goes back for seconds after making a healthy Waldorf salad snack. [Anna Huntsman / ideastream]
Nar'Velle, a student in Mrs. Simpson's class at Marion-Sterling Elementary in Cleveland goes back for seconds after making a healthy Waldorf salad snack.

When it comes to health, it isn’t always easy for kids and families to navigate the facts. That’s why we created “ Health’s Up,” a new podcast that explores healthy choices through kids’ voices. The show is hosted by pediatric nurse practitioner Kristi Westphaln. Teachers - find lesson plans here!

Grocery shopping can seem like a daunting task, but not for Lilleonna, a fifth grader at Marion-Sterling Elementary in Cleveland.

"Sometimes, it’s fun walking through the grocery store because you get to see foods like you want, (and) how foods look before they are cooked," she said. 

Pick the produce, hold the hot chips

There are so many reasons for kids to eat a healthy and well balanced diet. It’s pretty cool that research supports that when kids eat a healthy diet, they do better in school. And kids are often curious about food. 

Along with providing the energy for kids to learn and play, eating healthy foods also helps to fight off diseases. This is especially important for preventing chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. But what exactly do kids need to eat to stay healthy? One student, Rayonni, has an idea. 

"To stay healthy, you have to eat the right protein for your body," she said.

And Lilleonna recommends fruits and vegetables, like strawberries, apples, oranges and cucumbers.

Along with these healthy suggestions, another student, Mykeria, heard a recent news story about a popular unhealthy food choice: hot chips, like Flaming Hot Cheetos or Takis.

"We were watching the news earlier, and they said that it’s not good for you to eat hot Cheetos just because the red stuff in the hot chips is bad for you to eat," she said.

It’s unlikely that eating a few Flaming Hot Cheetos or Takis will kill you, however they have been known to cause kids to have heartburn, belly pain, constipation, or even experience a burning sensation while pooping!

There are many types of snacks and foods, like spicy flavored chips, that are specifically made using lots of sugar, salt, and other types of chemicals that appeal to our taste buds but are actually not healthy for kids to eat.  

Dr. Sarah Ronis is a pediatrician at the University Hospitals Rainbow Center for Women and Children who knows a lot about nutrition for kids. She recommends saving those snacks for a celebration or special occasion. 

“I’ve definitely seen kids who’ve come to see me at the doctor’s office having belly pain or having heartburn or upset stomach, so that kind of like pressure or discomfort in their chest, when they eat lots and lots of hot Cheetos," she said. "I think of it as a 'sometimes' food, but as an everyday food, hot Cheetos don’t have much nutrition in them so they fill you up, and there’s sort of chemical things that can be just really uncomfortable.” 

But, she says there’s other ways to ‘spice’ up your diet. 

“I think I would just really emphasize the importance of variety and trying new things because different foods have different nutrients in them and different combinations," she said. "You need to eat different fruits, vegetables, grains across those five food groups to get all the pieces that you need for healthy growth.” 

West Side Market for fruits and veggies

A one-stop-shop for all sorts of healthy fruits and vegetables is Cleveland’s West Side Market. It’s a historic marketplace in Ohio City, and Lilly recently explored it with her mom.  

"When we first went, we went to the fruit aisle first," she said. "And then there is a stand with a whole bunch of fruits and a whole bunch of people in there, and we went and saw these really little baby bananas, and we got them. And they were so little, but they were so good."

She also said she tried something she had never seen before — dragonfruit! And her favorite spot at the West Side Market is the seafood aisle. 

"I’m a big fan of seafood, so when we go to the seafood place, they have different types of fish and crabs and shrimp and stuff. They got the fish that still have the face and the eyes and stuff on there, and they’ll be looking at you!"

Lilleonna wins an adventurous healthy eater award! 

Along with going to the grocery store or farmer’s market, cooking together is a great way learn about how to prepare healthy foods — and have some fun. Dr. Ronis recommends giving kids age appropriate tasks to complete.

"Letting kids pick can be one way, looking up a recipe together for how to prepare it, or teaching a family recipe that you love, or a family member loves, to pass on," she said. 

Both Rayonni and Lilleonna have some great memories of cooking with family, and they also seem to be developing some mad cooking skills.

"Well my grandma at her house, she like taught me how to make like eggs, spaghetti, macaroni, chicken, bacon, cake, cookies, raviolis, pancakes, corn bread," Rayonni said. "Sometimes she lets me make sweet potatoes."

"My mom taught me how to make chicken breasts and salmon," Lilleonna added. "She was just going over all the seasonings that I’m supposed to use and how to lay the chicken breasts out on the pan."

Healthy snack attack

If all this talk about eating is making you hungry, you aren't alone! Mrs. Simpson's class recently made a Waldorf salad. The kids pushed their desks aside to get down to the importance business of making a tasty snack. They mixed oranges, apples, carrots and other ingredients to make this healthy snack. The recipe was well-received!

Students in Mrs. Simpson's fifth grade class at Marion-Sterling Elementary make a healthy Waldorf salad in class. [Anna Huntsman / ideastream]

"This stuff is good," one student said.

"It tastes like caramel!" added another student.

One student, Nar'Velle, got creative with an idea for a potential recipe modification.

"They could’ve added watermelon or grapes," he said.

Hopefully, you’ve been able to ‘digest’ all of these tips for maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. The next time you go grocery shopping with your family, stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables and pick out new foods to try. Save soda and spicy snacks for a special occasion. And remember, eating foods with lots of nutrients is not only good for our bodies, but our minds too.  

From exam room, to classroom, to newsroom – we know that healthy habits matter.    

Be in the know, stay healthy, and grow!    

Additional resources

Want to make this yummy Waldorf salad on your own? Follow the recipe below!

Students followed this recipe for their Waldorf salad snack attack in the classroom. [The Moosewood Cookbook]