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Chocolate-Covered Balls
Chocolate-Covered Balls

Children aren’t born with healthy eating habits – they learn from their parents. With repetition and practice, healthy eating habits can become a way of life for the entire family.

August is Kids Eat Right Month™, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its Foundation focus on the importance of healthful eating and active lifestyles for children and their families.

“Parents raise healthy eaters, bite by bite, meal by meal, as children transition from infants to teens and then to young adults,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Isabel Maples.

“Raising a competent eater takes years. Start by keeping mealtimes pleasant. Sit down regularly as a family to share meals, because positive attitudes about food grow from that. When there’s joy in eating, good nutrition can follow,” Maples said.

“As children grow, involve them more and more in the responsibility and decision making of meals and snacks. That might mean initiating teachable moments in the grocery store, enlisting your child’s help in planning meals or showing your teen how to prepare afterschool snacks,” Maples said. “Involving kids from the ground up gives them a sense of accomplishment and allows them to gradually develop key life skills about healthful food and good nutrition.”

Maples offers additional healthful eating habits that all families can begin today:

  • Allow children to use their internal signals to decide how much to eat.
  • Explore a variety of flavors and foods from different cultures and cuisines.
  • Make food safety, such as washing hands, a simple part of every eating occasion.
  • Teach basic skills for making positive food choices away from home.

“The more involved kids are, the more they will enjoy the fruits of their labors,” Maples said.

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter & Oat Bites

1/2 Cup Peanut Butter (or any nut butter you like, such as Almond Butter)
3/4 Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
Natural, Unsweetened Coconut Flakes (optional)
Chopped Roasted Nuts (optional)

Mix oats, peanut butter and maple syrup. Roll into about 12 balls (the smaller the balls, the more chocolate on each one!) and place them on a baking sheet which is covered with parchment paper. Freeze about 15 minutes or until set.

Roll the bites in the melted chocolate and, if you wish, sprinkle with chopped nuts and/or coconut.

Refrigerate until the bites are set, at least 15 minutes.

NOTE: Melt the chocolate carefully to prevent it from burning. Use a double boiler and stir until melted, or use a microwave stirring every 30 seconds until melted.

Adapted from Eating Well Magazine