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Kids' Calcium Consumption Is Key Concern For Parents

Parents play a key role in ensuring their children meet the daily requirements of calcium intake, according to a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The report also states that most children and adolescents are at risk for bone fractures and osteoporosis later in life due to low calcium consumption when they're young. Three servings of low-fat milk, cheese or yogurt, or up to 1,300 milligrams of calcium depending on age, are recommended each day to build strong bones. "Parents and caregivers often know the importance of calcium, but aren't sure how to incorporate it into their child's diet," said Andrea Garen, a registered dietitian at Dairy Council of California. "Since dairy foods provide 70 percent of calcium in the Western diet, finding ways to include more dairy can make a difference in a child's long-term wellness and bone health." Garen's suggestions include: • Find ways to work more dairy into the diet: Offer a child yogurt or cereal with low-fat milk for breakfast, and string cheese and flavored milk as a snack.

• Serve as a child's role model: If good nutrition is important to parents, it will also be important to their children. • Insist on family meals: Eating together at home will help parents control what their children eat. Garen added that the Dairy Council of California's meal-planning Web site (www.mealsmat ter.org) contains hundreds of free and easy-to-make, calcium-rich recipe ideas, including Chicken Crunchers.

Parents can try this and other palate-pleasing recipes to help their children meet their daily calcium requirements. Chicken Crunchers Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour Salt Pepper 4 Egg whites 1/2 cup milk 11/2 cups cornflakes 1 cup reduced-fat, shredded cheddar cheese 6 Chicken breast fillets; cut into strips Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Set up three bowls with the following: 1) flour mixed with a pinch of salt and pepper; 2) an egg-wash, made by beating the eggs and milk together; 3) cornflakes mixed with cheese. Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Dip chicken pieces in flour, then into the egg-wash, then roll in the cheesy-flakes mixture. Bake for 25 minutes, turning halfway through to ensure even browning. Serve with ketchup, BBQ sauce or plain yogurt for dipping, if desired. Total Preparation Time: 15 to 30 minutes.


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