Health, Food & Nutrition

Turn Down the Heat with 10 Healthy Summer Recipes

Does your child refuse to eat anything besides chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese? Add these ADHD-friendly meals to your summer dinner repertoire, and keep your little ones happy and healthy with everything from simple slow-cooker suppers to two-ingredient desserts.

Beef steaks with grilled vegetables make a good meal for ADHD families
Beef steaks with grilled vegetables make a good meal for ADHD families

Every mom knows the importance of nutrition in managing their child’s symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Every mom also knows, all too well, that raising a child with ADHD is a challenging job that leaves them precious little time to plan and cook tasty, well-balanced dinners.

We hear you. That’s why we came up with dinners that are simple to assemble and, in most cases, quick to cook. Best of all, your children can help you prepare most of them.

No-Cook Meals

Why turn on the stove and heat up the house when it’s scorching outside? Think inside the box and have breakfast for dinner. Serve a bowl of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal (Cheerios, Wheaties, or Total WholeGrain), with low-fat milk, topped with strawberries, blueberries, or bananas.

[Free Download: What to Eat — And Avoid — to Improve ADHD Symptoms]

Another healthy option is natural peanut butter on whole-grain bread, topped with raisins and grated carrots for sweetness, crunch, and additional nutrition. A glass of tomato juice adds a serving of vegetables. For dessert, serve fresh fruit that is in season.

Sandwiches made with whole-grain bread and lean luncheon meats without preservatives (Hormel Natural Choice Honey Ham or Turkey) make an easy, healthy dinner.

Or prepare tuna, salmon, chicken, turkey, or egg-salad sandwiches using canola mayonnaise, which contains beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, and serve with no-fuss coleslaw. To make the slaw, mix together a bag each of shredded red and green cabbage with a bag of shredded carrots. Blend these with equal parts canola mayonnaise and reduced-fat sour cream, and some celery seed. Sweeten to taste, if desired.

For dessert, make soft-serve “ice cream” by combining plain yogurt and frozen strawberries or peaches in your blender.

Slow-Cook Meals

Crock pots are a lifesaver for moms of kids with ADHD, as well as for moms with ADHD. Combine all the ingredients in the morning, turn on the pot, and dinner is ready when you arrive home from work or the pool. Crock pots are perfect for making simple stews, soups, chili, and other meals that will last several nights. (Remember to brown beef in a skillet before putting it in the pot; chicken can be placed in the pot raw.)

[Fast, Healthy Recipes That Everyone Loves]

To make a quick chicken dinner, combine skinned chicken breasts and a can or two of cream of chicken soup with an equal amount of water. Cook on low for eight hours.

Microwave Meals

This is a no-brainer. Just read the ingredient list to make sure the dinner doesn’t contain artificial color, flavor, preservatives, or sugar — all of which may increase hyperactivity in your child.

Here are three from Lean Cuisine that pass muster: Roasted Turkey and Vegetables, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, and Beef Pot Roast.

Barbecue Meals

Nothing is easier than firing up the grill and barbecuing dinner. Good meat choices include lean ground beef or turkey patties, preservative- and sugar-free hot dogs from the health food store, and thinly sliced chicken breasts.

Grilling salmon or a fresh tuna steak provides a tasty main course, plus lots of ADHD-friendly omega-3 fatty acids. While cooking the meat or fish, you can grill corn-on-the-cob wrapped in foil, and vegetable kabobs made of cherry tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, red peppers, and zucchini slices. Serve with a glass of low-fat milk.

[Recipes for Better Focus and Self-Control]

Note: Some children with ADHD may have an adverse reaction to fire-starter fluid, charcoal that has been pre-treated with fire starter, or propane gas. Ask children to stay inside while the chef does the cooking.

In summer, you have better things to do with your time — taking your daughter to swimming lessons, heading to the beach — than fretting over dinner options and crossing your fingers that you bought the ingredients to prepare it. Now you are good to go for the entire summer.

Nutrition in a Nutshell

Try to serve as many of these foods as you can at each meal:

  • A dark green and a yellow or red vegetable
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese
  • Protein (lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, or nuts)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (canola oil, walnuts, or cold-water fish, like fresh salmon)