S.D. obesity rate dropping

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By Katie ZerrCook

South Dakota was one of the top states in reducing the percentage of childhood obesity rates, with a drop of more than 1 percent. Others showing this type of decline were Florida, Georgia, Missouri and New Jersey.
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows after years of climbing, childhood obesity rates are starting to go down. Some officials are saying the movement to get kids eating healthy food and exercising is starting to pay off.
If this year’s percentages are an indicator, that statement may be true as in 18 states, there were at least slight declines in obesity for low-income preschoolers.
Previous national statistics show obesity rates have been rising for decades and then were essentially flat, although some places have reported improvements. But this year’s report shows signs of a wider-ranging improvement.
The study tracked the height and weight of nearly 12 million low-income 2 to 4-year-olds.
Between 2008 and 2011, obesity rates stayed the same or decreased in 40 states and territories, and only went up slightly in three.
In an effort to keep the positive moving forward, the staff at the Tribune found healthy alternatives to microwave after school snacks. The following were selected as tasty, healthy alternative after-school snacks.

HEALTHY RECIPES

Salsa
1  28-ounce can whole tomatoes with juice
1  10-ounce can Rotel Original (diced tomatoes and green chilies)
1 10-ounce can Rotel Mexican (diced tomatoes with lime and cilantro)
1/2 of a yellow onion
1 clove garlic
1 whole jalapeno, halved (seeds removed for milder salsa)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced
Directions:
Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like—about 10 to 15 pulses.

Fruit Kabobs
1 apple
1 banana
1/3 cup red seedless grapes
1/3 cup green seedless grapes
2/3 cup pineapple chunks
1 cup nonfat yogurt
1/4 cup dried coconut shredded
Prepare the fruit by washing the grapes, washing the apples and cutting them into small squares, peeling the bananas and cutting them into chunks, and cutting the pineapple into chunks, if it’s fresh.
Spread coconut onto a large plate.
Slide pieces of fruit onto the skewer and design your own kabob by putting as much or as little of whatever fruit you want. Do this until the stick is almost covered from end to end.
Hold your kabob at the ends and roll it in the yogurt, so the fruit gets covered. Then roll it in the coconut.
Repeat these steps with another skewer.

Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie
1 quart (4 cups) ripe strawberries
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 tblsp. sugar
4 thin orange slices (optional)
Directions:
Hull all but four of the strawberries. Add the hulled strawberries to a food processor or blender. Add the yogurt, orange juice, and sugar. Process on the highest speed until a well-blended puree forms, about 15 seconds, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container once or twice. Taste the mixture and sweeten with more sugar, if you wish.
Pour into tall glasses. Slit the four whole strawberries and the orange slices halfway through to the centers. Attach one strawberry and one orange slice, if using, to the rim of each glass before serving.

Orange Banana Smoothie
¾ cup orange juice
½ cup sliced banana
2 tsps brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
2 ice cubes
In blender, combine orange juice, banana, sugar and almond extract.
 Add ice cubes and blend until thick and smooth.

Mixed Fruit Smoothie
1 ripe banana
1 cup frozen fruit of your choice: mango,
blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries
2 heaping Tbsp. plain yogurt
¼ cup quick cook oats (not instant)
1 cup of 1 percent milk, or apple juice
5 ice cubes
Add peeled and sliced banana in a blender with frozen fruit and the yogurt. Blend it up and add the oats. Add the fat free milk, or apple juice and the ice cubes and blend again, until nice and smooth.
If smoothie is too thick, add a splash more milk or juice. Also add a little honey to sweeten if necessary.

Creamsicle smoothie
1 navel orange, peeled
1/4 cup fat-free half-and-half or fat-free yogurt
2 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
4 ice cubes
In a blender, combine the orange, half-and-half or yogurt, orange juice concentrate, vanilla, and ice cubes. Process until smooth.

Peanut butter fruit dip
1 (5-ounce) container vanilla Greek-style yogurt
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
2 Tbsp. honey
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Mix yogurt, peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon in a bowl until well blended

Pumpkin fruit dip
3/4 cup (6 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
24 apple slices
Place first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add syrup and cinnamon, and beat until smooth. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Serve with apple.

Popcorn Trail Mix
1 envelope 50 percent less fat, popcorn, popped
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup golden raisins
Directions:
Sprinkle hot, freshly popped popcorn with cinnamon, tossing to coat evenly. In a separate bowl, combine the sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cranberries, and apricots. Mix well. Toss the nut, seed, and fruit mixture with the popcorn. Divide evenly among 4-6 snack-sized bowls.

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