Archive for December, 2015


4 Lunch Mistakes to Avoid (and What to Serve Instead)

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Packing lunches for children is always a challenge. However, it is important that parents look out for items that sound healthy, but are not healthy at all. By making a few substitutions and changes, parents are able to create healthy and interesting lunches that children of all ages can enjoy. Below are some foods to avoid and what to use instead.

healthy lunch

Fruit Snacks

Fruit snacks are loaded with sugar and dyes. Because they are sticky, they can also remain on the teeth and cause tooth decay.

What to use instead: Actual fresh fruit provides the sweetness with additional fiber and nutrients. Dehydrated fruit, such as raisins, is another option that can be a little more shelf-stable if there are no refrigeration options.

Juice or Soda

Juices and sodas are more culprits in bringing in additional sugar. Additionally, these drinks can provide a large amount of unneeded calories. In particular, juice boxes also create a lot of waste.  Remember, most children only need about three or four teaspoons of added sugar a day. Even juices marked as “100% juice” end up stripping fiber and other beneficial nutrients from the fruit.

What to use instead: Consider packing filtered water or milk in a stainless steel canteen. Diluting juice with water, or adding just a splash of juice to mostly water, creates a drink that has flavor and sweetness without extra sugar and calories. You can also consider juicing whole fruits, which keeps more of the nutrients and fiber of the whole fruit.

Pre-packaged Meals

These kinds of meals seem convenient, but they are packed with sodium and artificial ingredients.  Furthermore, they can be expensive without supplying much nutrition. Like the juice boxes, these also create a massive amount of waste.

What to use instead: Using leftovers of a family dinner is one way to meet these needs. You can also dress up leftovers in new ways. For example, if you have spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, you can use the meatballs in a meatball sub the next day.

Processed Deli Meats

Much like the pre-packaged meals, these also contain loads of sodium and artificial preservatives. These chemicals have been linked to a number of diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

What to use instead: Cutting up meat at home or choosing preservative-free meat at the deli is a small change that create a much healthier lunch. If you are using meat you prepared at home, think about grilling or baking meat instead of frying.

Other Lunch Ideas to Remember

  • Think about what and how your children eat at home. Chances are, if they do not like something at home, then they will not eat it at school.

  • If there are certain things your children like, you can try similar things. For example, a child who likes crackers might also enjoy naan or pita bread.

  • Get your children involved in picking out things for lunches. Being involved in the process makes them feel more at ease with food and can allow for parent-child bonding.

  • By cooking extra at home, you can control the ingredients. For example, you can use less sugar or add pureed vegetables in a dish for your own nutritional needs.

  • Think about your children store their lunches. If there are cubbies, but no refrigeration, make sure you freeze a water bottle or bag of fruit to keep food cold.

Conclusion

Packing healthy snacks and food for your children seems like a daunting task. However, making a few substitutions and slight changes to existing recipes can keep a lunch not only healthy, but interesting to your children.

Stay Fit and Festive with 6 Healthy Holiday Recipes

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

We all love the holiday season, but we also know that it can be a nutritional minefield — full of unhealthy temptations and indulgences. The odd sweet treat or festive favorite may not seem like much, but without careful monitoring, those extra calories can quickly get out of hand. Studies suggest that on average, we pack on an extra pound of weight every holiday season. That may not seem like much, but if overindulgence becomes your yearly tradition, you may find that you’re loading up on extra weight — and setting a bad example to your kids at the same time.

healthy recipes

Fortunately, there’s a lot of healthy holiday foods out there that, when prepared in the right way, can help you and your family to reap numerous nutritional benefits — and even lose unwanted weight. With a little dedication, the right motivation, and the best ingredients, you could have the recipe for a happier, healthier, holiday season. Following are just some of our favorite options.

1. Figs and Prosciutto

Most people embrace color when decorating their home for the holiday season – so why not adopt the same mind frame when it comes to loading up your dinner plate? According to the American Heart Association, around half of any meal should comprise of a selection of vegetables and fruits in a variety of colors. Check out this figs and prosciutto recipe for an incredible addition to a main meal, or an excellent festive snack.

2. Sweet Potato Casserole

Nothing quite announces the arrival of thanksgiving and other festive celebrations like eating vibrant, yellow-orange colored foods packed with nutritional benefits like beta carotene and vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamin B-6, potassium and fiber, helping you to lower your blood sugar, and maximize your health. Try this indulgent sweet potato casserole recipe for food that has more to offer than just empty calories.

3. Honey and Thyme Turkey Breast

The first rule of thumb to follow when cooking turkey for a healthier holiday meal, is that white meat is always preferable to dark meat. The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without indulging in everyone’s favorite festive bird — the turkey, but make sure that you cook it right if you want to get the best, most beneficial results. Eating high-quality protein, such as that found in turkey breast, is likely to trigger satisfaction in your brain, so that you’ll be less likely to indulge in other poor food choices. Turkey is one of the lowest-calorie sources of protein you can get, especially if you’re willing to trim the skin before eating. This honey and thyme turkey breast recipe should offer you a tasty solution for your main meal. It delivers big on taste, and small on calories.

4. Orange and Cranberry Relish

Who doesn’t love a delicious helping of bright and colorful cranberries to go alongside their turkey dinner? Whether it’s a cranberry flavored drink, a cranberry sauce, or dried cranberries that you add to your holiday stuffing, these little bursts of flavor are an essential part of any festive fare — and for good reason too. Not only are cranberries delicious, but they’re also high in fiber and potassium – making them a crucial part of any healthy diet. What’s more, these berries also come packed with antibacterial compounds that can help to defend against urinary tract infections.  Try this cranberry and orange relish to add something special to your meals this year.

5. Horseradish Encrusted Beef Tenderloin

If turkey isn’t your meat of choice for your holiday celebrations this year, don’t be put off the idea of beef. Although red meat has gotten a bad rep over the years, it’s one of the most nutrient-rich foods out there, so long as you know how to cook and prepare it properly. A portion of lean beef, such as that offered by this horseradish crusted tenderloin recipe, is packed with zinc, for a healthier immune system, protein for stronger muscles, iron for reduced fatigue, phosphorus for strong bones, and B-complex vitamins.

6. Whole Wheat Holiday Cookies

There’s a good reason why sugar cookies are a holiday classic. Not only are they a fantastic option to bond with your children over festive shapes and icing decorations, but they can also satisfy your sweet tooth using less than 150 calories per cookie. This whole wheat sugar cookie recipe allows families to make the most out of the cookie tradition this holiday season, while cutting down on unnecessary fats, sugars, and calories.

Enjoy Your Holiday Season

Don’t let the temptations that crowd the holiday season ruin your festive celebrations. There are plenty of great foods out there for you and your family to indulge in — without ruining your devotion to a healthier lifestyle.

What are some of your favorite holiday recipes with a healthy twist? Let us know in the comments below!


Keep Kids Active With These Healthy Gift Ideas

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that your children are likely to become less active throughout the winter months. From the end of October to the beginning of the New Year, candy, and treats means that unhealthy indulgence increases, while physical activity levels decrease.

Fortunately, with the right stimuli, most children love staying active, and this time of year is the perfect opportunity to introduce gifts that will encourage them to embrace a healthier lifestyle. This holiday season, consider giving your children a gift that facilitates active play. After all, learning to enjoy this kind of gift in the early years provides crucial building blocks for the future, and physical competence is ideal for building self-esteem at any age.

kid playing

Whatever their interests, here are some of our suggestions for healthy holiday gifts that will keep your children’s minds and bodies in action.

1. Interactive Video Games

In general, medical experts have been critical of video games because of their tendency to promote a sedentary lifestyle. However, the world of video games has come a long way over the decades – evolving from stationary hand-held devices, to active and engaging technology that relies upon physical motion and interactivity. Some studies have even suggested that certain video games, such as options for the Wii, or Xbox Kinect, allows individuals to access the same level of moderate-intensity activity that they would get from going to the gym.

Keep in mind that children are more likely to gravitate towards standard video games than physically active options, so if you do purchase a console for your kids, you’ll need to supply them with plenty of active games, and monitor their usage. While active games are better than sedentary options, don’t rely on them exclusively to promote healthier activities for children.

2. Toys Designed To Get Children Outside

One of the best things you can do for your children today is encourage them to spend more time outdoors, and less time cooped up in front of the television. Christmas provides a great opportunity to purchase a few special gifts that focus entirely on your child getting outdoors to make the most of their new toy. For example:

  • A toboggan can be the ideal choice for the winter if you’re in a location that experiences a lot of snow. Not only is it exhilarating, but it’s great for fitness, and a fantastic way for families to bond in a group activity together.

  • Kites can be a great solution for getting kids outdoors, because they work regardless of the season. All you need is a bit of wind, and you’ll be good to go.

  • Bikes and scooters encourage children to engage in a new hobby, and increase the chances that they’ll be happy to take trips using physical activity, rather than relying upon you to take them everywhere in your car.

  • Kids love to jump, so if you want to keep your little ones bouncing their way to a healthier lifestyle, a miniature trampoline for the backyard could be the perfect solution

Don’t forget, even if your children aren’t on a sports team yet, having sports equipment available such as a basketball and hoop, or a goal for soccer, could encourage them to practice their skills and create their own games. The right sports not only keep children active, but help them to develop their coordination skills, and self-confidence.

3. Personalized Sports Equipment

One great way to get your children interested in a more active lifestyle this holiday season, is to personalize the gifts you give them, to ensure that each item resonates with your child on a deeper level. For instance, if your child loves the idea of riding his bike, but complains about it being boring or scary, you could enhance the fun with cool helmet covers or light decals.

If your child has expressed interest in a certain sport or activity in the past, you can sign them up for lessons with a professional tutor or coach, and make sure that you also give them all of the equipment that they need to pursue their interest. For example, if your child wants to join a football team, get them personalized equipment with their name written on the shirt, or a signed ball from their favorite player. If they’ve shown interest in karate, buy them their first belt and karategi.

Encouraging your children’s interest in a particular sport not only helps them improve their health, but offers them the opportunity to build greater confidence and self-discipline.

4. Traditional Solutions for Younger Kids

If you think your child is too young to fully grasp the rules of sports, remember the benefits of art, dance, puzzles, and traditional toys. For instance, art and dance are great for helping children to express themselves, increase their focus, and develop hand-eye co-ordination. Similarly, though building blocks and puzzles don’t involve a great deal of physical activity, they do help children to enhance their fine motor skills and develop their minds.

Remember that encouraging your children to adopt a healthier lifestyle isn’t just about physical activity, it also means advancing their minds, evolving their understanding of the world, and helping them to pursue healthy goals.

Conclusion

As a parent your goal should be to encourage your children into remaining as active and engaged as possible – no matter the weather. Healthy, physically active kids are more likely to develop life-long healthy habits, as well as being more academically motivated, successful, and alert.