Eating for Life

A quick fix for teens

A teen's diet is all about choices.

Milk or soda?

Breakfast or sleep?

Fast-food burger or a grilled chicken sandwich?

Between doing homework, hanging out with friends, attending sports and band practices or rehearsing for the school play, making time to eat healthy meals can get lost in the rush. Sadly, less than 40 percent of teens meet the USDA dietary guidelines for saturated fat, fruit and vegetable intake.

The ill effects of growing up in a fast-food world are already apparent. Nearly 9 million children and adolescents are considered overweight. The number of overweight adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 has tripled in just 20 years.

It can be tough to break old habits, but health experts say parents need to encourage teens to develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.

The Star continues Eating for Life, a four-part series featuring age-specific recipes created by home economists and reviewed by registered dietitians. The recipes take into consideration the taste preferences and nutritional needs of each age group. All recipes include a detailed nutritional analysis.

The recipe solutions stem from a five-part Nutrition for Life series that appeared last May and detailed the societal and cultural shifts that have led Americans to our current obesity epidemic.

Because exercise is crucial to a healthy lifestyle, FYI asked fitness experts to provide tips on meeting your activity goals.

So your teen loves french fries? Pump up the nutrition with our Baked Sweet Potato Fries.

Finding it hard to coordinate a family dinner with your teen's busy schedule of activities? The slow cooker can hold Chicken and Rice for hours.

If you really want to motivate your teens to eat better, encourage them to do a little cooking, a skill they'll surely need when they head out into the world. When we asked Marley Jones, a 16-year-old freshman at Johnson County Community College, to kitchen test our Healthy Lasagna recipe we knew we had a winner.

Her response?

"Who knew healthy food could be good, too?"