Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Eating’


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.

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?


Tips for Heart-Healthy Children and Families

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
February is American Heart Month, and we want to take some time to focus on how parents can promote their children’s heart health.
When it comes to raising healthy children, efforts should start at home, with parents and other immediate family members that have so much impact on kids during their formative years. The efforts extend into the community, where school officials, coaches, and so on help mold the youth into healthy, responsible adults. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and when we work together everybody wins.
Keep reading for some tips you can implement at home to help your children create heart-healthy habits.
Making Time for Healthy Habits
The first step is to make time to incorporate healthy habits. And while it seems like there already aren’t enough hours in the day, the secret is that you don’t have to find more time—you replace time spent on not-so-healthy habits with time spent on better-for-you ones. Try these ideas:
Schedule TV and Other Types of Screen Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than two years old have no screen time and older kids have one to two hours of screen time per day with high-quality content. But children now spend an average of 7 hours per day in front of the TV, iPad, laptop, and/or gaming system.
One way to cut back is to schedule screen time. Try these:
Make a list of the family’s must-see programs—these are the ones you can watch together or separately, but do keep the list to a minimum.
Turn the TV only on a few minutes prior to the start of the shows, and turn it off immediately after. No channel surfing, no mindless watching.
Schedule a game night or award “time tickets” to allow your kids to get their video game fix without spending endless hours glued to the screen and controllers.
Track Your Meals
How often do you stop at the drive-through on your way to or from activities? You may not realize just how often you grab dinner to go or reach for processed convenience items unless you keep track for a couple of weeks.
The problem is that most of these items contain overly processed simple carbohydrates (such as sugar and flour) and oils high in omega-6 fatty acids (like sunflower, soybean, and corn oil)—huge culprits of inflammation. While the debate of whether inflammation or cholesterol is the direct cause of heart disease is still in progress, it is certainly a big cardiovascular health risk factor.
Curb fast food eating, and learn how to make better choices when hitting the drive thru window.
Making healthy meals at home is easier than you think. For example, heart-healthy meals can be slow-cooked in a crockpot so they are ready when you are, you can make homemade freezer meals that just need to be popped in the oven.
Replace certain ingredients in your pantry. Rather than all-purpose white flour, go with 100% whole wheat baking flour and flour products. Instead of butter, shortening, and margarine, try extra-virgin olive oil, which features heart-healthy fatty acids. Instead of canned or jarred fruits, choose fresh or frozen. Instead of sugary sodas and juices, try mixing 100% juice with water—even a splash makes for a refreshing treat.
Track Your Time
Being constantly on the go is stressful for you and your children. Extra-curricular activities are a good thing for children, but as they say, you can have too much of a good thing. A recent NPR story highlighted the new levels of stress children and teens are experiencing today have a negative impact on health. As too much continual stress has been identified as one of the causes of heart disease, it’s imperative that families come together and decide where to cut back on obligations and commitments.
While stress management techniques, such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation, are great, healthy activities for everyone to practice, learning where to cut back and focus energy where it really counts is the first step.
Getting More Active at Home
After creating room in your lifestyle for healthy habits, fill it with fun activities at home! Why zone out or complain about boredom when there are so many valuable and fun activities you can do at home?
Become a Clean Machine
Getting everyone involved in household tasks and chores makes the work easier, faster, and healthier. And you can even make housework more fun!
Put sticky notes on everything that needs attention: Dust me, pick me up, sweep me, clean me, etc. Then race around the house to see which family member can acquire the most sticky notes and get the job done properly.
Put some tunes on the stereo and limit each household task to a certain number of tracks—3 for washing the dishes, 2 for scrubbing the bathtub, 4 for dusting the living room, etc. Get your toes tapping and the house clean all at the same time.
Go Green in the Garden
Backyard agriculture is all the rage these days, as we have rediscovered the joys and benefits of growing our own food. Gardening is also a great way to get, and stay, active. Those seeds and plants need planting, watering, weeding, and tending to. The fruits of your labor need to be harvested and prepared for storage and meals. Branching out to incorporate backyard chickens, rabbits, or other small livestock creates another dimension to your activity (and learning) time.
Besides the boost in physical activity, growing your own food is often healthier, cheaper, and more fulfilling than relying on the grocery store.
Take a hike
Or walk the dog, visit the neighborhood park or playground, play some hoops, go for a swim, set up the net and have a rousing game of volleyball in the backyard, and so on. Just get outside and get moving! Turning a lazy Saturday, Sunday, or weekday evening into a fun activity builds heart health, good habits, and memories, all of which can last a lifetime.
Doing What You Can
The easiest and most effective way to develop healthier habits as a family is by taking it one step at a time. No one said you had to do it all at once or all by the end of the month. Just start. Do what you can, when you can. Grow from there. When built upon and sustained over time, these habits will evolve into a full-blown heart-healthy lifestyle that will last you and your children a lifetime.

February is American Heart Month, and we want to take some time to focus on how parents can promote their children’s heart health.

When it comes to raising healthy children, efforts should start at home, with parents and other immediate family members that have so much impact on kids during their formative years. The efforts extend into the community, where school officials, coaches, and so on help mold the youth into healthy, responsible adults. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and when we work together everybody wins.

Keep reading for some tips you can implement at home to help your children create heart-healthy habits.=

Making Time for Healthy Habits

The first step is to make time to incorporate healthy habits. And while it seems like there already aren’t enough hours in the day, the secret is that you don’t have to find more time—you replace time spent on not-so-healthy habits with time spent on better-for-you ones. Try these ideas:

Schedule TV and Other Types of Screen Time

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than two years old have no screen time and older kids have one to two hours of screen time per day with high-quality content. But children now spend an average of 7 hours per day in front of the TV, iPad, laptop, and/or gaming system.

One way to cut back is to schedule screen time. Try these:

  • Make a list of the family’s must-see programs—these are the ones you can watch together or separately, but do keep the list to a minimum.
  • Turn the TV only on a few minutes prior to the start of the shows, and turn it off immediately after. No channel surfing, no mindless watching.
  • Schedule a game night or award “time tickets” to allow your kids to get their video game fix without spending endless hours glued to the screen and controllers.

Track Your Meals

How often do you stop at the drive-through on your way to or from activities? You may not realize just how often you grab dinner to go or reach for processed convenience items unless you keep track for a couple of weeks.

The problem is that most of these items contain overly processed simple carbohydrates (such as sugar and flour) and oils high in omega-6 fatty acids (like sunflower, soybean, and corn oil)—huge culprits of inflammation. While the debate of whether inflammation or cholesterol is the direct cause of heart disease is still in progress, it is certainly a big cardiovascular health risk factor.

  • Curb fast food eating, and learn how to make better choices when hitting the drive thru window.
  • Making healthy meals at home is easier than you think. For example, heart-healthy meals can be slow-cooked in a crockpot so they are ready when you are, you can make homemade freezer meals that just need to be popped in the oven.
  • Replace certain ingredients in your pantry. Rather than all-purpose white flour, go with 100% whole wheat baking flour and flour products. Instead of butter, shortening, and margarine, try extra-virgin olive oil, which features heart-healthy fatty acids. Instead of canned or jarred fruits, choose fresh or frozen. Instead of sugary sodas and juices, try mixing 100% juice with water—even a splash makes for a refreshing treat.

Track Your Time

Being constantly on the go is stressful for you and your children. Extra-curricular activities are a good thing for children, but as they say, you can have too much of a good thing. A recent NPR story highlighted the new levels of stress children and teens are experiencing today have a negative impact on health. As too much continual stress has been identified as one of the causes of heart disease, it’s imperative that families come together and decide where to cut back on obligations and commitments.

While stress management techniques, such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation, are great, healthy activities for everyone to practice, learning where to cut back and focus energy where it really counts is the first step.

Getting More Active at Home

After creating room in your lifestyle for healthy habits, fill it with fun activities at home! Why zone out or complain about boredom when there are so many valuable and fun activities you can do at home?

Become a Clean Machine

Getting everyone involved in household tasks and chores makes the work easier, faster, and healthier. And you can even make housework more fun!

  • Put sticky notes on everything that needs attention: Dust me, pick me up, sweep me, clean me, etc. Then race around the house to see which family member can acquire the most sticky notes and get the job done properly.
  • Put some tunes on the stereo and limit each household task to a certain number of tracks—3 for washing the dishes, 2 for scrubbing the bathtub, 4 for dusting the living room, etc. Get your toes tapping and the house clean all at the same time.

Go Green in the Garden

Backyard agriculture is all the rage these days, as we have rediscovered the joys and benefits of growing our own food. Gardening is also a great way to get, and stay, active. Those seeds and plants need planting, watering, weeding, and tending to. The fruits of your labor need to be harvested and prepared for storage and meals. Branching out to incorporate backyard chickens, rabbits, or other small livestock creates another dimension to your activity (and learning) time.

Besides the boost in physical activity, growing your own food is often healthier, cheaper, and more fulfilling than relying on the grocery store.

Take a hike

Or walk the dog, visit the neighborhood park or playground, play some hoops, go for a swim, set up the net and have a rousing game of volleyball in the backyard, and so on. Just get outside and get moving! Turning a lazy Saturday, Sunday, or weekday evening into a fun activity builds heart health, good habits, and memories, all of which can last a lifetime.

Doing What You Can

The easiest and most effective way to develop healthier habits as a family is by taking it one step at a time. No one said you had to do it all at once or all by the end of the month. Just start. Do what you can, when you can. Grow from there. When built upon and sustained over time, these habits will evolve into a full-blown heart-healthy lifestyle that will last you and your children a lifetime.

4 Ways to Avoid Halloween Candy Overload

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

With Halloween just a week away, kids and parents are gearing up for the spooky festivities and sugary gorge-fest. It’s not only children who become increasingly excited as the end of October looms near—retailers and manufactures are also preparing for a big Halloween sales. The National Retail Federation estimates total Halloween spending in the U.S. to reach $6.9 billion. Of that spend, $2.08 billion is expected to be on candy alone, proof that we in the United States take our yearly Halloween candy binging rites seriously.

For kids, the goal is simple: visit as many houses as possible, filling up a giant knapsack with the largest amount of candy that you can manage to carry. Parents, on the other hand, have things a bit more complicated when it comes to Halloween. Yes, making sure your kids have a wonderful, memorable Halloween experience is important, as is keeping them safe while they are out there trick-or-treating.

What is also important is trying to curtail the ongoing consumption of tooth-rotting sweets that can last for weeks, or even months, after Halloween has come and gone. Not only is managing children’s candy intake necessary to avoid cavities, belly aches, hyperactivity, and future health issues—it’s also essential to avoid the inevitable glucose crash that follows an assault on the trove of Halloween riches.

So how do you go about helping your kids avoid the adverse affects of binging on Halloween candy? After all, they are sure to be up to their eyeballs in candy at every turn: at home, at school, and out in public. To start, it’s best to lay out a few ground rules: how much they’ll be allowed to eat and how much will be donated, saved for later, or set aside for ‘inspection’ by Mom and Dad. In addition to establishing rules, here are a few more ideas to help avoid Halloween candy crash.

1. Have Healthy Snacks on Hand

In the days following Halloween, it’s easy for kids to reach for that pillow case bulging with candy when they need a snack. One way to avoid this is to make sure you have other, healthier snack options readily available. While choosing a carrot over a chocolate bar isn’t likely to be your child’s first instinct, providing them with healthier food options—and helping them make the right choice—is key to avoiding candy binging. It helps make their Halloween candy stash last longer too.

2. A Little Goes a Long Way

Instead of giving your kids free reign over the now-overflowing candy jar, restrict candy intake to a few, or even better, one, piece of candy each day. To children, this might seem like a drag, but one way to make the process go more smoothly is to make a small ‘event’ out of it. Establish a set time each day, and encourage your kids to choose their daily candy very carefully. Tell them to eat their candy slowly and enjoy it rather than shove the entire thing in their mouth before running off. If you can manage to slow the process down enough, you will effectively bypass binge candy eating, while also teaching your kids the importance of savoring their food to avoid overeating and increase satisfaction and appreciation of food and treats.

3. One for Me, One for You

After the trick-or-treating has been completed, sit down with your children and take inventory of what they’ve managed to bring home. With all of the candy laid out, tell them that they need to decide which candy to keep, and which to set aside. In this way, you are allowing kids a certain level of control over selecting their favorites, but also cutting their candy total in half. Once they have chosen the candy they will keep for themselves, you can collectively decide what to do with the rest: donate it, share it among friends, or allow Mom and Dad to have some treats of their own.

4. Have a Plan for Leftover Candy

Aside from donating candy to troops overseas, selling it, or giving it away, having a few other ideas in place for leftover Halloween candy is a good idea to ensure it doesn’t go to waste. Of course, you can always freeze some of it, eating it later or using it as an ingredient in a frozen treat. You can also bake certain candies into cakes, use them in trail mixes, or even put them in a gift basket for Christmas. There are a ton of resources to help you with ideas for leftover Halloween candy, some of which even include healthy options!

Good luck managing that candy stash, and have a happy Halloween!

The Top 5 Worst Kids’ Lunch Foods

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

When it comes to providing kids with the best nutrition to keep them going strong, traditional PE programs alone may not suffice. Since kids are notorious for being picky eaters, this can make it difficult as a parent or after school program coordinator to find foods that kids will enjoy eating and that are healthy for them as well. Teaching healthy eating habits is just one of several elements of a coordinated school health program. Whether it’s the ingredients, labeling, or nutritional value, learn why each of the popular kids’ foods listed below that can actually do more harm than good in fighting childhood obesity.

Top 5 Worst Lunch Foods

New Obesity Statistics Widget

Friday, February 11th, 2011

prevent-obesity-net-obesity-statistics-widgetAbout PreventObesity.net: The United States is facing a child obesity epidemic and now, more than ever, needs people and organizations to step forward to change our path of self destruction. The technology exists to focus the world’s talents, creativity, and expertise on solving the problem that has cost our nation trillions of dollars over the past decade in health care costs. The combination of a grassroots movement and innovative ideas for reversing obesity will save our country money, lives, and keep our kids healthy. (Image from PreventObesity.net)

New Widget: PreventObesity.net just released their newest tool to help stave the obesity situation. The free widget can be placed on any website or blog and provides a quick view of what obesity has and will cost our country. It shows an adult obesity rate of only 13% in 1960 costing the nation $46 billion in health care; in 2008 the numbers skyrocketed up to a 34% adult obesity rate, costing us $120 billion. The popular widget also shows the number of annual heart attacks and how many days obesity takes off of your expected lifespan. The widget is based on substantial research, looking at the implication of obesity on our nation. Having the numbers easily available for people to see creates a sense of urgency to fix the situation. This widget can easily spread the word of how serious the current issue is and hopefully get people motivated to join our cause.

Join the Movement: Reversing the negative effects obesity has on our children and nation is a monumental task that requires a lending hand from people like you. Everyone has seen firsthand how obesity can affect someone’s life; do not accept the same outcome for you and your family. Our nation will suffer when the next generation of obese children age and require substantial support. If you are interested in protecting our health and economy, take a stand and join in our movement against obesity. You can make small contributions or lead the way, every helping hand counts. To join the movement, connect with other motivated people by adding yourself to our map. PreventObesity.net provides free services to support leaders, organizers, and even businesses looking to make a difference.

Steps to Take

  1. Widget: Post the brand new widget on your blog and website. Show others that you care about the current obesity situation and let them see the numbers for themselves on your site. Many people do not realize how serious the issue has become in the United States. Seeing the actual impact in dollars and lives posted on your website will help bring them on board the cause.
  2. Map of the Movement: Add yourself to the map and then ask your friends and employer to join the cause. The more you spread the word, the more influential the free support from PreventObesity.net will be. Take a leadership role in one of the most important causes of this generation by adding yourself to the map.

Integrating Nutrition into the School Day

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Energy balance is crucial to healthy living and while physical education classes can be found in most schools across the nation, nutrition education is being taught in only a small percentage of schools.  Why is this the case if healthy eating is so important?

Some reasons include a lack of standards and policies, lack of nutrition education curriculum, and time to teach this content with so many other responsibilities being placed on teachers today.  So what can you do to integrate nutrition into your day?  Here are some ideas to get you started! (For more in-depth information make sure to join our January webinar on this topic- Click Here)

  • Math- students can record their food and calorie intake into a food journal and calulate averages, servings sizes and portions
  • Art- create a colorful menu for a restaurant complete with healthy choices
  • Social Studies- teach students about different cultures by cooking traditional receipies in class
  • Language Arts- select books to read that talk about food and nutrition this can introduce them to foods they have never heard of before
  • Science- students can build a car out of fresh vegetables or do an experiment to learn about the properties of foods
  • Physical Education- have a relay where students have to build a balanced meal by running down and selecting one food item picture at a time

Help Your Family Have a Healthy Holiday Season

Monday, December 13th, 2010

The holiday season is here and with it come Christmas parties, New Year’s celebrations…and food, food, and more food! Not to mention that when the temperatures drop and the sunset comes early, it gets harder and harder to make sure you (and your family) are getting the exercise you need to stay healthy through the holidays.

Keeping up with healthy habits has benefits for your whole body – like helping to avoid holiday weight gain, helping to fend off holiday stress and fatigue, and helping to keep your immune system strong. Many people give up on healthy habits during the holidays but with these tips you can teach your children how to stay healthy during this busy time of year.

Tips for healthy holiday eating:
  • Feed your children – and yourself – a light meal or snack before going to a holiday party. It’s harder to avoid overeating when you’re overly hungry.
  • Set a good example for children by eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with meals or as snacks.
  • Offer to bring a healthy, low-calorie dish to holiday parties so you’ll know that at least one healthy item will be available.
  • Teach your children to eat smaller portions of food, especially at a buffet, where they may want to try everything. Help them choose the items they want to try the most, and eat a small portion of each.
  • Sodas and other sweet drinks contain a lot of calories and many contain caffeine. For a healthier version of “soda” mix 100% fruit juice with club soda or seltzer.
  • The holiday season can keep you extra busy but try to avoid fast food – it may be handy, but is often high in fat and low in nutrition.
Tips for physical activity:
  • Hula Hoop, Jump Rope: If Rocky can jump rope for hours, it’s got to be good, right? Grab a few hula hoops and jump ropes, clear out one of your rooms, and turn on some fast-paced music. Your kids will love learning new skills, and you’ll love getting their heart rates up! You can even hold a tournament or a competition to make it more interesting.
  • Dance: In First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, she encourages parents and children to get up and dance. Not only can you learn valuable moves on the dance floor, but merely dancing around for an hour can burn upwards of 200 calories! Take a leaf out of Michelle’s book: turn on some holiday music and dance around the house.
  • Active Video Games: Traditional video games, albeit fun and endlessly entertaining, are extremely sedentary activities and should be limited to just an hour or two a week. The new, active video games incorporate fitness, coordination, and even dance skills! Consider Dance Dance Revolution, Wii Bowling, Playstation Move or Xbox Kinect next time your kids want to spend hours in front of the television on a cold or rainy day.
  • The Gift that Keeps Giving: Give gifts that encourage physical activity, like active games or sporting equipment. Santa knows that even the simplest presents, like a ball or hula hoop, help support activity and leave open endless possibilities for fun family games.

Healthy Holiday Recipes

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Holiday Pudding Cups

A light delicious treat which is fruitful, festive, and requires very little work. Plus it is in its own dish, so less clean up after a holiday party.

Ingredients:

  • 1pkg Philo dough (thawed)
  • 1pkg JELLO instant vanilla pudding (regular or sugar free)
  • Milk (for pudding)
  • ¼ cup Pomegranate
  • ¼ cup Strawberry (sliced)
  • ¼ cup Blueberry
  • ¼ cup Kiwi (diced)
  • Powder Sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Lightly spray muffin pan with cooking spray (for appetizer style use the miniature cup cake pans)
  3. Roll Philo dough into 1/8 inch thick sheets
  4. Cut dough into squares, so that when it’s laid into the muffin pan it will hangover ½ inch
  5. Gently press squares into muffin pan, shaping edges to form rims ¼ inch high
  6. Bake for 18 minutes or until pastry has a golden color. (Tip – for a glossy shine on the pastry cup lightly glaze beaten egg onto the top)
  7. Let cool
  8. Mix up the vanilla pudding per the JELLO package instructions
  9. Once the pastry cups have cooled, spoon pudding into each cup.
  10. Then top with a piece of each fruit and lightly dust with powder sugar.
  11. Serve chilled.
  12. ENJOY!

Stuffing with Sage and Chives

Ingredients:

  • 1 spray(s) cooking spray
  • 12 slice(s) whole-wheat bread, cubed*
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp light butter
  • 1 cup(s) onion(s), diced
  • 3 stalk(s) (medium) celery, diced
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 cup(s) canned chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp chives, fresh, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 4-quart shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Arrange bread cubes on a large ungreased baking sheet in a single layer (use 2 baking sheets if there’s not enough room). Bake until lightly toasted, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove bread from oven and set aside; leave oven set to 350ºF.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and butter together for 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion and celery; sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add thyme, sage, salt and pepper; stir to coat. Cook until herbs are fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Transfer onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add bread, broth and chives; toss to combine. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish and cover with foil; bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Divide into 8 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.

Notes:

  • Leave the bread bag open and somewhat uncovered for 1 to 2 days (at room temperature) before making the recipe.
  • Feel free to substitute your favorite bread, such as whole grain, sourdough or a light variety..
  • For added flavor, you can also add about 1 cup of diced Granny Smith or McIntosh apples to the stuffing
  • You can make this stuffing in advance and bake it just before serving. The stuffing will last up to 3 days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking as directed.

Servings:  8

Preparation Time:  15 min

Cooking Time:  45 min

Level of Difficulty:  Easy

Enjoy!

Fueling Student Success with Food and Fitness

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Brain breaks for better focus and concentration…

Healthy eating messages sprinkled throughout the school hallways, cafeteria, and classrooms…

Nutrition education woven into PE and core curriculum K-12…

Where is this happening? Check out West Orange, New Jersey school district!

“Teaching our students to maintain a healthy balance with eating and exercise is our top priority. The SPARK program is helping provide the tools and training to achieve this goal”, shared Corinn Giaquinto, Health and Physical Education instructor, Thomas Edison Middle School, West Orange, New Jersey.

Hats off to Thomas A. Edison Middle School and their entire school district in West Orange. The district has been using SPARK in their physical education department for some time and recently received a grant from Mountainside Health Foundation to fuel student success by adding nutrition education.

Vickie L. James, Registered Dietitian and Director of Healthy Kids Challenge (HKC), the exclusive nutrition education partner for SPARK, was the trainer for the West Orange training, the first ever SPARK and HKC nutrition education training.

“From classroom to PE to wellness council members K-12, the representation and enthusiasm shown at the workshop tells me the commitment this district has to student wellbeing. They truly understand the strategy of using good nutrition and physical activity to create a culture of health in the schools that can do nothing short of fueling student success. This was the first of many great moments down the road for West Orange Schools.”

If your school district is ready to accelerate student achievement by combining physical activity and nutrition education, contact SPARK today. Full day SPARK/HKC nutrition education trainings as well as a new nutrition curriculum in three grade ranges, K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 all are available through SPARK.  Healthy Kids Challenge trainings are tailored to meet school needs for successful implementation of realistic wellness policies, school improvement plans, and TEAM Nutrition guidelines. And SPARK/HKC help you achieve the required criteria for the HealthierUS School Challenge program.

The HKC curriculum, Balance My Day, was developed to align with all HECAT (Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool) standards for nutrition education. This is a new requirement for PEP grant awardees and you won’t find many nutrition education programs that address it.

Stay tuned for exciting happenings and updates from West Orange schools! SPARK and HKC wish them well in their commitment to student health!