Learning to love new, healthful foods should be among the new school year’s lessons, says local nutritional therapist Summer Waters.

“The younger we can introduce kids to these real foods, the better,” says Waters. “There’s no sense in waiting.”

Amid the back-to-school rush, however, many parents struggle to prepare wholesome, nutritious snacks and lunches. Easy but delicious recipes that parents can make with their children are the focus of Waters’ next cooking class at Medford’s Wise Women Care Associates. Part of the clinic’s “Nourishing Foods” series, the event will incorporate Waters’ in-depth discussion of nutrition facts and strategies, along with sampling.

“It’s gonna be real-food ingredients,” says Waters. “Not snack bars and diet things.”

Hummus is one of Waters’ favorites at lunchtime, snack time or anytime. Although the indispensable Middle Eastern dish is almost universally appealing for its creaminess, she says, the traditional chickpeas aren’t everyone’s ideal food. Waters frequently replaces the legumes with peeled zucchini, and rarely does anyone notice the switch.

“It’s a really easy substitute.”

It’s just one way that a food processor — aka “Mama’s little helper” — says Waters, can assist parents’ efforts to increase their kids’ vegetable intake. Serving hummus — enhanced with beets, pumpkin, red peppers or roasted carrots — with raw or blanched vegetables for dipping exponentially multiplies the nutritional value of mealtime.

“Getting more vegetables in is something a lot of parents struggle with,” says Waters, who is a certified practitioner for Gut and Psychology Syndrome and leads the local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Transforming thinly sliced vegetables into baked or fried “chips” is one way to satisfy an all-too-common craving for crunch, says Waters. A sweet tooth can be satisfied with fruit smoothies that hide a serving a vegetables, she adds. Waters advocates involving kids in the kitchen, although her class is intended for parents only.

“These are things they can do with their kids, too.”

Even the pickiest eaters can be enticed with a little creativity, she says. When presented as a royal feast to girls going through a “princess” phase, purple beet-based hummus becomes a hit, she says.

“I pull out all the stops.”

That attitude extends to Waters’ endorsement of healthful fats, a key component for ensuring that kids are sated on a diet that includes more vegetables. Nut butters are the base of her “fudge” studded with more nuts and dried fruit.

“All we hear about is how we should reduce fat,” says Waters. “That’s the last thing we should do.

“Little ones have very little room in those tiny bellies,” she adds. “So we have to prioritize.”

Hard-boiled eggs, says Waters, are portable snacks that can be prepared by the dozen a week in advance. Avocados are among the most nutrient-dense foods and effortlessly enrich any recipe, from salads to smoothies, she adds. Made in the morning, and stored in a Thermos or insulated coffee mug, a smoothie is an on-the-go snack that curbs late-afternoon impulses for refined starches and sugars, says Waters.

“It keeps people in line with their health and dietary goals,” she says of constructing a class around the concept of snacking.

“They can be the make-or-break kind of thing.”

 Reach freelance writer Sarah Lemon at thewholedish@gmail.com.