Balanced Nutrition

“Healthy food” typically doesn’t go hand in hand with “camp food.” In fact, the selection is typically a sea of white–white flour, white sugar, and fried, white food in the form of buns, breaded chicken, french fries, and cookies.

Kids are often more willing to try new foods at camp.

None of these choices are doing kids any good.

Camp is actually the perfect setting for kids to try new foods. They are away from home, and have most likely been doing and trying many things that are new to them. If they see their cabin-mate or counselor eating salad at dinner, they’ll be that much more open to the idea.

Oftentimes there are two barriers to healthy cooking in the camp world:

1. Money

2. Kitchen staff

Since changing an entire menu and method isn’t realistic, start small; simple changes can really add up.

For instance, what about switching out those nightly desserts for fresh fruit a few times a week, or serving pasta with a salad that’s so delicious the campers actually choose to eat it?

Or maybe it’s as simple as removing the soda and candy vending machines. Are they really necessary?

Camp Endeavor, a non-profit weight-management camp located in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., has been providing campers with healthy, well-balanced meals for the last seven summers.

Although it is a weight-management camp, you won’t find any “diet” food here. The focus is on real, whole foods and building a taste and appreciation for these foods in conjunction with exercise.

Although traditional meals such as pizza and macaroni and cheese are served, new foods are also introduced to encourage an entirely different way of eating, as well as to teach the types of foods and quantities that are good for children.

Here are five ways to make camp meals healthier:

1. Switch to whole grains. Substituting whole grains for some of the white-flour selections (cereal, bread, tortillas, pasta, rice, etc.) increases the fiber, protein, vitamins, and nutrients that are lacking in refined, white flours. This swap requires no extra prep work from the kitchen, and the cost is minimal–and definitely worth it.

2. Pack in the protein. Camp meals are often structured around carbohydrates (white, refined ones at that). Protein is what keeps the body full and satisfied, so make sure the kids are getting some at every meal–eggs, tuna, chicken, beef, beans, nut butters, and dairy are all good sources. Having waffles for breakfast? Add some peanut butter before the syrup to get some fat and protein.

Fruit can be fun -- and tasty!

3. Don’t use the fryer so much! Skipping the fryer altogether is not necessary, but most of the frozen foods (chicken nuggets, french fries, etc.) have already been fried once, so bake these items. Save the fryer for “special” meals or for fries only. Fried foods should be served once or twice a week at the most–not on a daily basis.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. World Fusion
  2. Chow Time
  3. Recipe Resources
  4. Welcoming Vegetarians
  5. Kick Nutrition Up A Notch
  • Columns & Features
  • Departments
  • Writers