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  • Healthy Food Choices

    I'm reaching out to get some ideas about healthy food choices for our Cub Scout events. I think it's important to set an example for proper eating for the Scouts.

    Typically the events at which we serve food are Pinewood Derby, Movie Night, end-of-year party, etc. With the exception of our camp outs and Blue & Gold, we always server hot dogs & chips, pizza & salad w/ranch dressing. After all the discussion about healthy eating, we turn around and feed the kids high-fat, highly-processed junk food.

    Any ideas on how to up our game and serve kids food that is healthy, balanced, nutritious and that they will enjoy?

  • #2
    I'm not sure you need to. Sure, it's important to serve healthy meals, and certainly that can and should be encouraged for campouts, but that doesn't mean serving up things like dogs and chips, or pizza, on pinewood derby night or movie nights is a bad thing. I think these foods get a bad rap mostly because we tend to overdo them. An occasional Big Mac is a nice treat but we see them demonized as junk food when the real issue is having a Big Mac every day.

    That doesn't mean that you couldn't make things healthier - have the hot dogs but instead of the standard pork/beef mix, serve turkey dogs. Pizza? Skip the pepperoni, go with veggies. Instead of regular ranch, use a lite ranch on your salad, or go with a simple vinegar and oil dressing. Serve up cole slaw using something other than mayo (I use Brianna's "rich poppy seed" dressing - mmm good - a bit pricey but worth it). For dessert, instead of cookies and cakes, offer fruits - the kids get a lot of messaging on healthy eating at schools these days - more and more are picking up fruit as a choice - you can build on that. Chips? Go with pretzels.

    It's ok to have "junk" food every once in a while as a treat - and there might very well be a good chance that these nights are treats for a number of your Cubs.

    Comment


    • #3
      I expect you serve junk because it's cheap and easy. Real food takes preparation and cooking. If you can get some volunteers to do the cooking, that's the main battle.
      Check out http://choosemyplate.gov which is the replacement for the food pyramid. Roast chicken, potato, green beans, salad, and milk - that's a real picnic.
      You could have subway-style sandwiches cut into pieces. Use lean meat, light sauces, and whole grain bread.

      Healthy snacks tend to be more expensive, but are easy - apple, pear, and banana slices work. You could include small marshmallows and lay out fruit-kebobs if you're not concerned with sharp sticks.

      Comment


      • #4
        For our Pinewood Derby, we had one den assigned to bring fruit and vegetable trays to balance out the "foods". Guess what, there was plenty of fruit and veggies left over and the chips and cookies were gone. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink it. It's not just the Cubs that choose the fun foods but it's also the parents.

        We will keep trying. Gotta' practice what you preach.

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        • #5
          What about serving low fat hotdogs, whole wheat buns and baked versions of the chips cubs love so much.....all can be bought at warehouse clubs or grocers. Oatmeal cookies and fruit fr desserts.

          The key is making swap outs for foods they like....choosing a healthy version of the junk they are used too. Schools cafeterias are able to do it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Over the years, we have slowly eliminated some of the junk and added healthier options.

            One item we have eliminated is carbonated drinks. We no longer ask parents to bring these to campouts or potlucks. We provide drink containers with water and lemonade. I know the lemonade is full of sugar, but it is better than soda. We will have sign-ups to bring sweet and unsweet tea.

            A very popular item is cut-up fruit. We always run out at Blue and Gold and our December Holiday potluck. But, we do not request chips at these events either.

            For campout snacks, we usually have cubed cheese, sliced apples/lemon juice, grapes or clementines. There is something about those clementines that the kids love. I think it is the mess they create peeling the oranges. I will sometimes cut up strawberries, mandarin oranges, red onion and throw it on a box spinach. Add goat cheese and salad dressing. The adults eat it, but so will some of the kids. For the make-it-yourself DO pizza, we have turkey pepperoni and reduced fat cheese. Everyone always talks about those DO pizzas.

            Other ideas include spaghetti and fajitas. Pre-cook the pasta, re-heat and add sauce and turkey meatballs and your salad. For the fajitas, you can grill at camp or pre-cook with cumin, lime juice, garlic and black pepper. Fix-it-yourself and add low-fat sour cream, onions/peppers cooked in foil, cheese, guacamole or salsa on a tortilla.

            Personally, I believe if the kids are asked to help prep/make their own food, they have a vested interest and are more likely to try healthier options. As an added bonus, you are teaching them there are other menu options out there when they begin to cook within their Patrol.

            That being said, we still have hot dogs at campouts for the picky eaters and every campfire needs s'mores.

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            • #7
              Red Bull all around!

              Seriously, give them choices. For me pizza (traditional) and chips are a no-no (I'm over weight) but for others, it may not be.

              Some items like pizza and hot dogs can be pure junk or quite nutritious depending on type. Unfortunately, it may cost more to eat nutritiously (why do the poor have a higher percentage of obesity?).

              I also agree that sugar water is not the best drink option.

              Comment


              • #8
                I buy Crystal Light drink mixes as they are very tasty and sugar free. Even for our Boy Scouts too much sugar is not a pretty thing :-) I don't mind chips so long as it isn't all they eat. Single serving bags, while more expensive, help control portion sizes. All beef hot dogs are a better choice - low fat tend not to get eaten.

                Walking tacos are a great hit with kids that age (all ages, including parents, actually) and can be packed full of good stuff. We combined those with a single cookie and a drink and served that at Pinewood Derby. It was *always* a hit.

                I don't think I would stress about it too much no more often than you are talking about. Snack time at Den Meetings are where I would stress better choices.

                Comment


                • #9
                  These are some great suggestions and I really appreciate the awesome ideas.

                  We bought two large water containers to serve water and lemonade (lemon juice, sugar, water). No sodas allowed at our events.

                  Walking tacos sound interesting. What is that exactly?

                  I also like the cheese and cut fruit idea. It sounds like common sense but having healthy eating habits requires more money, more planning, more prep, and more clean up. But I think that's the lesson we need to pass along.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    We've started providing water rather than soda or drink pouches, that was an easy switch. We hand out graham crackers or granola bars instead of cookies and spend a little more for presliced apples or clementines at pack meetings. Camping meals include lots of fruits and vegetables in the form of foil dinners, tacos or just veggies and dip. If we have pizza, we have salads too. We serve hot dogs as campfire snacks rather than a meal. We always have fresh fruit available while camping. We may serve chips, but we don't buy a lot and we don't have them around all the time.

                    We've decided as leaders that we will no longer serve food that everyone will eat but to focus on food that the majority of us want to eat, and that means healthier choices. Good for you and your unit in chosing to do the same, DigitalScout.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Walking tacos, line up on a table in separate bowls:

                      Corn chips in single serving bags (a.k.a. Fritos)
                      Spoons (It's up to you if you use disposables or durable cups and spoons.)
                      Taco filling (ground beef, cooked drained and refried with chili powder, parpika, ground red pepper, salt, etc ... or your favorite pre-made mix.)
                      Grated Cheeze
                      Grated lettuce
                      Chopped Green Onions
                      Chopped black olives
                      Sour cream.
                      You get the idea ...

                      Everyone line up. Each person grabs a bag, opens it, grabs a spoon, inserts their preferred ingredients, eats. Sitting down is optional.

                      Serve cookies after everyone has had the main course! Only give them to guests who return their empty bag & spoon.

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                      • #12
                        Never dawned on me that Packs would buy soda and drink pouches for campouts. Make buckets of kool aid and everyone has a NON disposable cup.


                        Keep in mind you will never make everyone happy with meal choices.

                        We make walking tacos, spagetti, ziti, we have done hamburgers, hot dogs....

                        The boys are burning alot more calories on a campout than sitting in front of the video game system at home.


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                        • #13
                          Anything you make with ground beef can be "healthified" by subsituting ground turkey or ground chicken. Once ground turkey is mixed with taco seasoning/chili seasoning/spaghetti sauce, the taste and texture are very similar to ground beef, with much less fat.

                          Substitute Canadian bacon for pepperoni or use turkey pepperoni. Or turkey sausage instead of beef sausage. You can also get whole wheat pizza crust. You can even get low fat cheese.

                          Make sure there are nutritious sides. Carrot chips are a big hit with Scouts at our events.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Anything you make with ground beef can be "healthified" by subsituting ground turkey or ground chicken. Once ground turkey is mixed with taco seasoning/chili seasoning/spaghetti sauce, the taste and texture are very similar to ground beef, with much less fat.

                            Substitute Canadian bacon for pepperoni or use turkey pepperoni. Or turkey sausage instead of beef sausage. You can also get whole wheat pizza crust. You can even get low fat cheese.

                            Make sure there are nutritious sides. Carrot chips are a big hit with Scouts at our events.

                            Comment

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