Archive for the ‘Healthy Eating’ Category


5 Ways to Teach Kids About the Food Groups

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

The five food groups

Between teaching your kids how to read, write and behave, in addition to many other life skills, the topic of health can easily get lost in the shuffle. It’s important for your children to learn the importance of healthy eating so that they can grow up to make smart decisions concerning their diet. But what are the most effective ways of teaching children about food groups and helping them to recognize when food is healthy?

Here are 5 fun ideas to help you get started:

1. Make Learning Into a Game

Teaching the food groups through games is a great way to get your kids familiar with serious concepts without making it feel like homework.

Why not try one of these activities?

  • Start with a set of play foods and bring out 5 containers, each labeled with one of the food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy. You might consider an extra container for junk food. Challenge your children to sort the play foods into their proper containers.
  • Cut out pictures of foods from magazines, and label 5 poster boards with a different food group. Your kids have to paste the right pictures onto the right posters in the form of a collage.
  • Set up a play grocery store at home that’s organized by each food group.

2. Help Them Pack Their Lunch

Getting involved in your children’s meal choices is an excellent way to lead by example and demonstrate how important a healthy diet can be. Try letting your kids pick out their food for their packed lunches, provided that they choose something from every food group. Present them with alternatives so that they learn the different types of food from each group. This could include the option of either a banana or an apple to reinforce that these foods are both fruits.

3. Cook Dinner Together

When you’re cooking dinner, you probably want nothing more than to kick your kids out of the kitchen, but don’t miss out on this chance to offer them a valuable learning opportunity. Making food together is always preferable to putting together meals by yourself or providing your kids with pre-prepared meals from the grocery store. By turning mealtimes into a team effort, kids develop greater understanding and responsibility when it comes to their food. Let them suggest a side dish and help prepare the ingredients. In no time at all they’ll be able to cook by themselves.

4. Use a MyPlate Placemat

MyPlate is a graphic providing a visual demonstration of the food groups and their portions on a typical dinner plate. Using this graphic as a placemat serves as a reminder of how much of each food group you and your children should be getting in every meal. Search for placemats that show examples of a serving from each food group to help instill the food group theory. For a more interactive lesson, you can even print out a MyPlate placement for your kids to illustrate with their ideas for a balanced meal.

5. Tour Your Local Grocery Store

Instead of shopping while the kids are at school or daycare, bring them along with you so they can learn some important life lessons. Taking your kids to the grocery store isn’t only a great way to educate them about food choices; it also teaches them about money, if they pay attention to the prices. Talk about the foods you’re buying and why you chose that particular type or brand. Discuss what recipes you’ll use the ingredients for and why certain choices are healthier than others. You might even find that, as they gain a better understanding of nutrition, your children start making excellent dinner suggestions!

Teaching your kids about healthy eating isn’t a one-time discussion; it’s an ongoing process that relies heavily on good examples, open dialogue, and team activities to ensure nutritional understanding and awareness. If you try these fun tips, your kids are sure to enjoy eating a balanced diet, which will further support their physical health.

3 Reasons Why Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day for Kids

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

breakfast as a family

Do your kids routinely eat breakfast each morning?

Eating a balanced breakfast offers a wealth of health benefits, both physical and mental, for the whole family. Teaching your children healthy habits from a young age by incorporating a nutritious breakfast into their daily routine is a vital life lesson. Breakfast will not only have a positive impact on their bodies, but also on their education. Numerous studies have found that eating breakfast improves a child’s concentration, mood and grades. What’s more, eating breakfast as a family every morning is great way to spend quality time together.

Here are 3 reasons why you shouldn’t wait one more day to make eating breakfast a part of your child’s lifestyle:

1. It Encourages Healthy Eating Habits

Children who make a habit of eating breakfast every day are more likely to continue to do so throughout their lives. Studies have also shown that eating breakfast on a daily basis helps individuals maintain a healthy body weight. Eating healthy meals, starting with breakfast, is just as important as physical education and activity for young children. Make sure your family breakfast is well-balanced and nutrient-rich. A breakfast high in protein and complex carbohydrates is ideal, so next time you’re at the grocery store, make sure you pick up some eggs and oatmeal.

If your children aren’t eating breakfast on a regular basis, try to incorporate it into their schedule by having them wake up a little earlier each morning. You can also involve them in writing the grocery list. When kids feel like they have more ownership over the foods in front of them, they are more likely to actually eat them. Skim milk, low-sugar cereals, fruit and whole grain waffles are healthy foods that they will probably be excited to buy and, more importantly, to eat.

2. It Improves Their Concentration

The Nutrition Consortium of NY State tells us that children who eat a well-balanced breakfast show improved academic performance, demonstrate a longer attention span, have better attendance and experience decreased hyperactivity in school. Children also score better on tests if they have had a healthy breakfast beforehand.

If your child is tired, restless or grouchy by the early afternoon, adding breakfast will help stabilize his or her blood sugar and mood. Breakfast will give kids more energy and the ability to concentrate better throughout the day. The key is to stick to nutritious items and to avoid the empty calories often found in sugary cereals, syrups and breakfast pastries.

3. It Boosts Family Bonding

In the digital age, family time is an increasingly precious commodity. Research shows that children greatly benefit from sitting around the table for a meal with their family, and breakfast is no exception. Mealtimes provide the perfect setting for a catch up with one another, so step away from the television and the cell phones, and appreciate some one-on-one communication with your kids. Children who are involved in family meals are also less likely to get into trouble at school and usually perform better in their classes.

While it’s important for kids to start their day with a wholesome breakfast, it’s beneficial for mom and dad, too! Children model the behaviors they see, which makes eating your own well-balanced breakfast with your child a must. If you prioritize a family breakfast, even for just 10 to 15 minutes each day, you will all enjoy a healthier and more positive start to the morning.

The old saying holds true: breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. The morning meal has a direct influence on how we perform mentally and physically. When you provide the best breakfast experience for your children, you give them the opportunity to have a fantastic and effective day. Make sure your child’s breakfast is low in sugar and rich in fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates. Fuel them with the food that will keep them fit and full, and you’ll maximize the benefits for the family, too.

6 Ideas for Protein-Packed, Kid-Friendly Food

Monday, April 24th, 2017

peanut butter protein sandwich

Protein is a powerful substance, responsible for building muscle, bone and tissue, as well as keeping your child’s energy levels regulated throughout the day. A regular dose of protein can even protect against infection. But if your child gets most of their protein from high-fat mac ‘n’ cheese or ice cream milkshakes, you may need to find new ways of broadening their protein palate.

Fortunately, there are plenty of easy-to-prepare, protein-rich meals your kids will love. Just open your refrigerator, grab your lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and low-fat dairy products, and keep on reading.

Here are 6 simply delicious protein ideas for the whole family:

1. Play with Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is one of the best sources of protein, particularly for children who love the taste and the flexibility of the food. If peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a strictly lunchtime staple in your home, why not inject some creativity into your PB experiments?

Try spreading a thick layer of peanut butter onto whole-grain waffles and decorate with raisins and a banana for a smiley face breakfast. For a fun and dippable snack, serve a bowl of peanut butter with celery sticks, crackers or thin slices of whole-grain toast.

2. Choose Chocolate Milk

Besides being an incredible source of protein, phosphorus, and vitamin D, calcium can also help to regulate energy in children. Since soda is perhaps one of the biggest causes of childhood obesity, it might be a good idea to remove it from the refrigerator in favor of healthy chocolate milk.

While chocolate milk does contain some sugar, chances are your kids will reach for it more often than regular milk. That’s great when you consider that each cup contains around 8-9 grams of protein much more than soda, or even juice.

3. Try Tasty Tuna Dips

Tuna is an excellent source of protein for kids because it’s virtually-fat free and brimming with great substances like Omega-3. While you should limit their intake to remain within safe mercury guidelines, there’s still lots of opportunities for delicious tuna treats.

Mix up a can of tuna with some fat-free mayonnaise and pickle relish, then serve with sticks of celery, carrots and cucumber for a quick and healthy lunch.

4. Build Chicken Burgers

Chicken is yet another low-fat source of protein, provided you avoid fatty favorites like fried chicken and breaded nuggets.

There are a whole host of ways to use chicken for a delightful and healthy meal, though chicken burgers are generally a good place to start. All you need to do is mash up some chicken breast and shape it into a set of patties. Once they’re cooked, you can serve them with thick slices of tomato, lettuce and whole-grain buns, so your kids can assemble their burgers themselves.

5. Develop Egg-cellent Dishes

Even the finickiest children often like eggs. Whether they’re mixed with low-fat milk to create French toast, scrambled and served with whole-wheat bread, or whipped up into omelets, eggs contain plenty of iron, protein and other crucial nutrients. Besides being a great source of protein, eggs also contain lutein and vitamins A and D, which will help to protect children from eye diseases as they grow up.

Mash some hard-boiled eggs into fat-free mayonnaise or low-fat yogurt, and chill. You can then spoon this chilled creation onto bread for egg-salad sandwiches, or even use cookie-cutters to stamp out different shapes for fun.

6. Enjoy the Ease of Cheese

Finally, protein-packed cubes of cheese can keep energy levels high while helping with your children’s health. Cheese can be easily prepared and served in a range of different, yet healthy, ways. As long as you pick something made with 100% milk, you probably can’t go wrong.

For an easy lunch favorite, try shaking up the classic grilled cheese sandwich with some reduced-fat cheddar and low-sodium ham. Use only a couple of spritzes of cooking oil over huge mounds of butter to grill.

The amount of protein your child needs each day varies according to age, body weight and the quality of the protein eaten. Although requirements range from 0.35 to 0.45 grams of protein per bodyweight pound, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect protein snacks to properly nourish your child, thanks to these tips.

Start boosting their protein intake and fueling their physical health today!

Heart-Healthy Meals that are Child-Friendly

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

healthy meal

It’s not easy to get kids to eat healthy, and it’s even more difficult to get them to understand why eating a certain way is important; children live in the now and are blissfully unaware of how their habits as children will impact them as adults.

The sooner you help kids to establish healthy eating habits, the easier it will be for them to adopt them for the long term. But before getting into the most child-friendly heart-healthy meals, here’s a primer on how to eat healthy, specifically with the heart in mind:

Heart-Healthy Eating 101

Heart-healthy foods are low in both salt and saturated fat (with zero trans fats). But that doesn’t mean that they are completely free of fat! Instead, heart-healthy foods may contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats — and that’s ok. Not all fats are bad, and it’s important to accept this fact if you intend to follow a heart-healthy diet. Of course, anything in excess can be harmful, so make sure to follow a balanced diet that includes proportionate amounts of nutrients.

The following represent some of the best heart-healthy foods, and how to use them in child-friendly heart-healthy meals.

Whole Grains

The ChooseMyPlate website identifies grains as any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain. Luckily, it’s not too hard to get kids to eat grains — it’s just important to make sure that the grains they consume are nutrient-rich. Refined grains, like white flour, lose a lot of the best heart-healthy nutrients, while whole grains keep everything intact.

A few child-friendly heart-healthy meal ideas using whole grains:

  • A bowl of oatmeal with sliced fruit
  • A whole grain sandwich with lean meats (like turkey) and vegetables
  • Whole grain pasta with pesto (the olive oil in pesto has heart-healthy fats)

Vegetables

Everyone knows vegetables are good for them, but certain vegetables are better than others for heart health. Specifically, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, and red peppers (and many other red, yellow, and orange veggies) are known as being especially heart-healthy.

The secret to getting kids to eat veggies (and getting them excited about it!) is often to hide them in something else, or draw attention to another part of the meal so that they barely notice the vegetables.

A few child-friendly heart-healthy meal ideas using vegetables:

  • A veggie-filled omelette
  • Chicken fajitas with red peppers
  • Sweet potato and black bean salad (recipe)
  • Smoothies — it’s easy to disguise the taste of carrots and spinach with fruit!

Tomatoes

Most tomato varieties provide lycopene, vitamin C and alpha- and beta-carotene. Luckily, it’s usually not too hard to get kids to eat tomatoes.

A few child-friendly heart-healthy meal ideas using tomatoes:

  • Tomato sauce with chopped veggies and whole grain pasta (two heart-healthy ingredients)
  • Sloppy Joes made with salsa and ketchup, with lean ground turkey

Berries

Besides being delicious, berries are rich with heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber.

A few child-friendly heart-healthy meal ideas using berries:

  • Yogurt parfait with berries
  • Whole grain cereal with berries (two heart-healthy ingredients)

Dark Chocolate

Two things you might not expect to be heart-healthy: wine and chocolate. As you should certainly abstain from giving kids wine, you don’t have to deny them a delicious dark chocolate dessert. The chocolate should be at least 70% cocoa to achieve heart-healthy effects, and is most healthy in its purest form (aka, not as part of a sugar-rich ice cream or multi-ingredient candy bar).

Knowing the right inputs will make it easy to create child-friendly heart-healthy meals. But it’s always nice to have expert help when teaching nutrition basics to children. SPARK’s Nutrition Services can help fill any gaps, and provide a foundation for teaching kids about nutrition.

What would you add to this list?

SPARK Acquires Healthy Kids Challenge Program

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

CSH-Image-2

The world’s most researched physical education curriculum expands with integration of evidenced-based program for school nutrition and wellness.

hkc-logo2GREENVILLE, Wis., March 15, 2016 – School Specialty, Inc., a leading distributor of supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources to the education marketplace, today announced that its SPARK® physical education brand has acquired the rights to Healthy Kids Challenge® (HKC), a nationally recognized program providing evidence-based information and best practices to help children develop skills for healthy eating and physical activity choices.

Founded eighteen years ago (1998) under the auspices of Cooking Light magazine and directorship of Vickie L. James, RD, LD, Healthy Kids Challenge has grown as an award-winning nonprofit dedicated to helping schools and community programs nationwide problem-solve barriers and create policies and practices in nutrition education. HKC has provided quality, research-based resources including training, healthy eating lesson plans, and activities that motivate wellness with interactive learning and goal setting. The program is aligned with the most current health education standards and guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has built collaborative partnerships with leading organizations and professionals to serve hundreds of schools and thousands of children across the country. One of its many accolades is the Anita Owen Award for Most Innovative Educational Program from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (American Dietetic Association).

Commenting on today’s news, Dr. Kymm Ballard, Executive Director of SPARK & Sportime, School Specialty Physical Education stated, “With physical activity and healthy eating going hand in hand, it has been an organic and instrumental partnership between SPARK and HKC since 2010. It seemed only natural that we combine forces in the areas of physical and nutrition education to further develop evidence-based wellness programs that help our children and families reduce their obesity risk and halt the development of serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease that have a costly impact on public health. The major appeal of the HKC curriculum has been its differentiated and validated approach and we praise the innovative and effective work of the HKC team for almost two decades. This new phase in the SPARK-HKC relationship greatly supports our mutual objectives to expand a curriculum-based physical education and nutrition/health portfolio with comprehensive solutions and services. We look forward to continued success!”

For more than 25 years SPARK has provided evidence-based physical education, after school, early childhood, and coordinated school health programs to teachers and recreation leaders serving Pre-K through 12th grade students. Each SPARK program is a coordinated package of curriculum, teacher training and content-matched equipment. The SPARK pedagogy is focused on highly active games, dances and sports that maximize physical activity, while also incorporating nutrition and health instruction.

Ed Carr, School Specialty’s Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer, stated, “The physical education category is one of our key growth channels and with the addition of Healthy Kids Challenge, we significantly enhance our collective offering. With the increased focus on health and wellness across schools throughout North America, it has become increasingly important to provide educators with the evidence-based and innovative training, equipment and support resources that advance their efforts in nurturing the physical, mental and emotional well-being of their students, and by extension communities. This also ties nicely with our expanding Health Care initiatives through SOAR Life Products. We will continue to focus our resources on growing our proprietary SPARK and Sportime brands, while leveraging the Healthy Kids Challenge offering, and look forward to welcoming the HKC program to the SSI family.”

“To be able to make a difference in the world is so humbling and gratifying, and to see the Healthy Kids Challenge grow and be nurtured by great partners like SPARK who share a similar philosophy of providing behavioral and environmental change programs and care as much about children as the HKC team does is exciting,” stated Director and Creator Vickie L. James, RD, LD. HKC stands beside the SPARK program and School Specialty in supporting schools and youth initiatives across the country to ‘Take the Challenge’ and to serve as key ‘KidLinks™’ in providing solutions for students and their families to eat healthy, move more and enjoy a balanced life. As my colleague Claudia Hohnbaum (Assistant Director) and I look towards retirement shortly, we can feel comfort in knowing that the HKC program is in excellent hands under the SPARK umbrella. We look forward to seeing the HKC work expand and reach even more kids and families!”

With the dissolving of the Healthy Kids Challenge nonprofit, SPARK & Sportime will assume ownership of all educational materials and programs. The HKC staff of registered and licensed dietitians will continue to serve as training, mentorship and coaching resources for SPARK.

About the SPARK Programs

SPARK is a research-based organization that creates, implements, and evaluates programs that promote lifelong wellness. The SPARK Programs consist of Early Childhood, K-12 Physical Education, After School, and Coordinated School Health. Each SPARK program provides curriculum, teacher training, follow up support and consultation, and content-matched equipment sets through the School Specialty Sportime business line. For more information on SPARK, visit www.sparkpe.org.

About School Specialty, Inc.

School Specialty is a leading distributor of innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to the education marketplace. The Company designs, develops, and provides educators with the latest and very best school supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources. Working in collaboration with educators, School Specialty reaches beyond the scope of textbooks to help teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators ensure that every student reaches his or her full potential. Through its SSI Guardian subsidiary, the Company is also committed to school, healthcare and corporate workplace safety by offering the highest quality curriculum, training and safety and security products. Finally, through its SOAR Life Products brand, the Company offers thousands of products that sharpen cognitive skills and build physical and mental strength in fun and creative ways. From childhood through adulthood, they help individuals live life to the fullest – engaged, happy and well.  SOAR Life Products is a customized offering for hospitals, long-term care, therapeutic facilities, home care, surgery centers, day care centers, physician offices, and clinics. For more information about School Specialty, visit www.schoolspecialty.com.

@SchoolSpecialty

Connect with School Specialty on social media; search School Specialty on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. For Ideas and resources, educational trends and inspiration for today’s educators – visit the Schoolyard blog.

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!


Healthy Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

After the holiday feast is over, you’re not just left with full bellies; you’re left with a fridge full of leftovers. Unfortunately, most people don’t want to eat turkey and stuffing for a week straight. Even so, it may surprise you that, according to the USDA, Americans throw away 35 percent of edible turkey meat.

turkey wrap

But you don’t have to stick with the traditional holiday recipes; opt for a variation once your feast is over. To make the most out of your leftovers, consider these tasty recipes you can enjoy the week following a holiday feast.

Turkey Noodle Soup

When you’re unsure of what to do with your mounds of leftover turkey, indulge in a non-traditional take on chicken noodle soup. Slice up your extra turkey and toss it into a pot of stock (which you can make from the turkey carcass) and fresh noodles. Then, add leftover veggies like potatoes, corn, and carrots. Throw in some fresh veggies like celery if you have them in the fridge. Serve with buttered dinner rolls if you have any remaining from your big meal.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

If your family didn’t manage to gobble up your candied yams or sweet potatoes, you can use them in this ingenious recipe. Start with your sweet potato casserole (the kind with marshmallows on the top), or use good old mashed sweet potatoes and add a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. Then, mix these ingredients together in a food processor:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

  • 1 cup left over sweet potatoes

Add 1/8 to ¼ cups milk as needed. Then, roll your biscuits out, cut them to size, and cook at 450 degrees for 9-10 minutes.

Turkey Avocado Wrap

When you’re looking for a tasty turkey treat to take to work the Monday following Thanksgiving, consider stuffing your leftover turkey into an avocado wrap. Start with a flour tortilla—choose whole wheat for a healthier option—and then add turkey, avocado, lettuce, ranch dressing, and whatever other toppings you like. Food Network suggests mixing your ranch dressing with chipotle salsa and grated orange zest.

Thai Curry Turkey

If you need a change of pace to the traditional holiday flavors, switch it up with Thai curry turkey. This recipe will use up leftover turkey and sweet potatoes. Plus, when you use coconut milk instead of oil, you’ll be slashing calories for a healthier supper. To make, boil 1 cup light coconut milk, ¼ cup chicken broth, 1 teaspoon green curry paste, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Then, add 1 ½ cups leftover sweet potatoes, 2 cups leftover turkey, and ¾ cups green peas. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro and red pepper strips.

Turkey Pot Pie

This recipe will help you use up any extra veggies and meat you have in the fridge. Start with the linked recipe as a guide, or get creative and make up your own recipe. The key is to get a thick turkey/veggie mixture using chicken or turkey stock as a base. Pour that into a prepared pie crust and cover with the second half of your pie crust. Food Network suggests cooking your pie at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until crust is brown.

Open-Faced Turkey Sandwiches With Cranberry Chutney

When you’re looking for a recipe that will help you use up your extra cranberry sauce, this recipe is perfect and fairly light—great for a quick lunch. Start with two slices of whole wheat bread. Spread each piece with mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Add spinach, turkey, and a slice of Swiss cheese. Broil your sandwich in the oven for two minutes before adding a scoop of cranberry chutney to top it off.

Which one of these recipes will you try this holiday season?


Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle with HKC this Nutrition Month

Friday, March 20th, 2015

March is Nutrition Month!

Posted with permission from Healthy Kids Challenge. Read more on the Healthy Kids Challenge Blog.

HKC Teaching Cards

Explore MyPlate Teaching Cards are a versatile nutrition ed tool to help you teach all ages during National Nutrition Month and year round!

Explore MyPlate Teaching Cards offer quick and fun nutrition and activity messages for the following audiences and more:

Health Fair or Parent Night (worksites, community events or schools) – Set up display tables of the 5 MyPlate food groups and active play. Provide participants teaching cards and point out the healthy messages as you lead them through the table displays. (See our Explore MyPlate event guide for details.)

Classroom or Afterschool Kids Activities – Choose a theme each week during the month (Grains, Fruits & Veggies, Dairy, Protein and Active Play). Use the cards for bulletin board ideas, weekly kids challenges and quick healthy messages during breaks. Also a great asset for use with our Balance My Day ™nutrition curriculum!

Health Departments and Clinics – Place teaching cards in waiting and exam rooms and use for nutrition education opportunities.

Be creative with your Healthy Kids Challenge resources and the following National Nutrition Month Event Ideas:

To learn more about National Nutrition Month, here is a link to the press release: This National Nutrition Month, the Academy Encourages Everyone to Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle


Seasonal Eating: 5 Fresh Fruits and Veggies to Incorporate this Winter

Monday, December 15th, 2014

You may not have been aware but there are some amazing, fresh fruits and veggies that we only have access to for part of the year! The winter season welcomes some very unique produce that is great tasting as well as highly nutritional. Take your meals to the next level this season by incorporating these healthy fruits and veggies while adding color, nutrients, and pizzazz to your dishes.

Parsnips parsnips

  • In Season: October-May
  • Nutritional Value: This root vegetable is high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, dietary fiber, and potassium. It also contains antioxidants that have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties. The majority of vitamins and minerals found in parsnips are located very close to the skin. In order to maximize the nutritional value, it should be finely peeled or cooked whole.
  • Fun Fact: Parsnips are 100% edible; however, their shoots and leaves contain toxic sap that can cause a chemical burn or intense allergic reaction upon contact with skin!

Delightful Dish: Savory Parsnip Madeleines

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup crème fraiche
  • Grated peel of 1 lemon
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan
  • ½ cup peeled and grated raw parsnip
  • ¼ cup toasted and chopped pistachios

Grapefruit grapefruit

  • In Season: December-April
  • Nutritional Value: This fruit is a great source of vitamin C, fiber pectin, and the antioxidant lycopene. Consuming grapefruit can help lower cholesterol and burn fat.
  • Fun Fact: Grapefruit is eaten as a sweet candy in areas like Costa Rica. The fruit is cooked to remove sourness and then filled with dulce de leche.

Delightful Dish: Seared Mahi-Mahi with Citrus Compote

Ingredients:

  • 2 Oro Blanco grapefruits
  • 2 Page mandarins
  • 2 Owari Satsuma mandarins
  • 2 Fukamoto navel oranges
  • 1½ cups dry white wine
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1½ pounds mahi-mahi

Artichoke Artichoke

  • In Season: September-December/ March-June
  • Nutritional Value: Artichokes are high in dietary fiber, vitamin C, and magnesium. They also have one of the highest antioxidant levels compared to other vegetables. This funny flower can help with digestion, liver function, and blood cholesterol levels.
  • Fun Fact: The artichoke that we purchase at the store to consume is actually just the head of the flower. The stem that supports it can grow to be over 6 feet tall!

Delightful Dish: Shaved Artichoke Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 minced shallot
  • A couple sprigs of mint leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Juice from 1-2 lemons, plus 2 more lemons
  • 3 artichokes
  • Handful salad greens, washed and dried
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Olives, pitted
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Almonds, chopped and toasted

Pomegranates Poms

  • In Season: September-December
  • Nutritional Value: This fruit is high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and dietary fiber. It possesses antioxidant and antibacterial properties within the juice of the seeds. These properties have potential health benefits of reducing risk of heart disease, lowering blood pressure, and fighting dental plaque.
  • Fun Fact: A single pomegranate can contain anywhere from 200 to 1,400 seeds. Each seed has a pulp and the white area that holds the seeds is called the membrane. In ancient Egypt, pomegranates were a symbol of prosperity and ambition and were used to treat many infections, including tapeworm.

Delightful Dish: Sweet Couscous with Fresh Pomegranates

Ingredients:

  • Several large pomegranates
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon superfine baker’s sugar
  • 1 pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water
  • 1 cup fine-grain packaged couscous
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons pistachios, peeled and crushed

Sweet Potatoes sweet potato

  • In Season: September-December (in market January-March)
  • Nutritional Value: This root vegetable contains complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and beta-carotene. While it is starchy, it is actually ranked highest in nutritional value compared to rice, wheat, potatoes, and corn.
  • Fun Fact: Sweet potato consumption has become increasingly popular in the US. It is often served as French fries or baked potatoes and paired with fun condiments like blue cheese.

Delightful Dish: Sweet Potato Stew with Greens

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon rasam powder
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard or collard greens
  • 1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro

Whether you are cooking in large quantities for the holidays or preparing small meals for yourself, incorporating these seasonal fruits and veggies will surely be satisfying. Get inspired by seasonal cooking and take a look at other fruits and veggies that are only available at this time of the year. Your body with thank you—and so will your taste buds!