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Healthy Kids During the Fall Season

(ARA) - School, homework, soccer practice, ballet, board meetings - the list goes on and on. The end of summer often means the beginning of a hectic fall, and now is the perfect time to ensure that healthy eating stays on top of your priority list. A healthy lifestyle for the entire family can be easier than it seems - even for the busiest household. With a little planning, both parents and kids will find themselves prepared for those last-minute meals and snack attacks that may otherwise place them in front of the vending machine, or in the drive-thru line. 

As parents are back to work, and kids back to school, it's more important than ever to be armed with functional foods that will keep you fueled and feeling satisfied. Planning ahead for snacks and meals that are both nutritious and delicious is the key to success. 

Preparing nutritious snacks and meals on a tight schedule is all about being creative, so finding the right go-to foods the whole family will enjoy is important. Follow these tips from Sunsweet Growers to prepare your family for a day of healthy meals and midday snacks: 

* Make breakfast count. According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat breakfast perform better in the classroom and on the playground, with better concentration, problem-solving skills and eye-hand coordination. Keep your kids strong in both body and mind by starting them off on a breakfast full of functional foods high in the important nutrients they need to succeed through both the day and the school year. Try adding "super fruits," such as prunes (also known as dried plums), to a bowl of yogurt for a tasty breakfast that's high in antioxidants, potassium and fiber. 

* Plan nutritious snacks for between meals. Everyone needs a little something to tide them over between lunch and dinner. Having a healthy snack on hand will help prevent you and your student from turning to the vending machine for some midday fuel. Stock your desk and their backpacks with nutritious snacks that are packaged to stay fresh and hold up en route to any destination. Try mixing dried fruit with almonds for a snack that will fill you both up in a healthful way. 

* Stash healthy foods in your car or purse. Having nutrient-rich snacks on hand is essential in ensuring your child stays energized between extracurricular activities, and that you stay fueled when transporting them. Often, afterschool snacks are a last-minute thought and chips and candy bars become the only option. Instead of handing over that sugar-filled candy bar, keep your car or purse stocked with healthy snacks for those days you find yourselves moving from one activity to the next. Sunsweet Ones, individually wrapped prunes, are a grab-and-go snack perfect for the car when shuttling between school, soccer or ballet practice. 

* End the day on a healthy note. After a busy day of work, school and extracurricular activities, it's important to replenish your family in both body and mind with a healthful dinner. Have fun experimenting with new recipes and putting new spins on old favorites. Dinner is also a great time to squeeze in those extra vitamins and minerals to your family's diet at the end of the day. Incorporating dried fruit, such as cherries, blueberries or prunes, into salads, side dishes and even entrees will not only add sweetness and texture to meals, but it's also an easy way to incorporate nutrients that might otherwise be missing from the dinner table.