Posts Tagged ‘Summer’


Summer Treats to Beat the Heat: 6 Healthy Snacks Your Kids Will Love

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

kids eating healthy and refreshing juice popsicles

The summer heat can be tough to deal with, especially for kids who are running around in the hot sun all day. Coupling cool snacks with healthy treats can require a bit of creativity, but it’s not impossible to encourage healthy eating over the summer break. To help your kids cool down and stay hydrated, consider these six healthy snacks that are great on hot summer days.

Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is one of the easiest recipes to prepare during the summer. All it takes is some chilled mixed fruit, and it’s perfect for breakfast, lunch or a snack. There are practically no limits to fruit salad, whether you want to pair melon, strawberries and grapes together or even throw in a bit of chopped papaya, kiwi, blueberry or oranges. Toss in a bit of lemon juice to keep the fruit from browning, or add a bit of orange juice for extra flavor.

Frozen Juice Pops

Popsicles are a staple for hot summer days to help you cool down, but they’re usually packed with sugar. The healthy alternative is frozen juice pops. Simply blend your favorite fruits or vegetables together in a food processor, pour the liquid mixture into popsicle molds, and freeze. Not only does this cut out the added sugar, but these types of pops are full of other healthy nutrients — and your kids won’t know the difference.

Pineapple Sorbet

Another frozen treat that will help your kids cool down is this healthy sorbet recipe. Start with one pineapple and scoop out the flesh, placing it in a blender. Add two tablespoons of agave or maple syrup, one cup of water, and the juice from one lemon. Blend until smooth, and then freeze. Once frozen, let the mixture thaw slightly, and then blend it again until you reach a sorbet-like consistency. That’s it! For extra fun, you can serve the sorbet in a half of the pineapple shell. It’s a tasty chilled treat your kids will love.

Guacamole

Guacamole is an avocado dip that is packed with nutrients. It’s made by mashing avocados and combining them with lemon juice, chopped red onions, garlic, salt, black pepper and diced tomatoes. You can use it as a dip with whole grain corn chips, as a spread on sandwiches and wraps, or mixed with cooked egg yolks as an alternative to mayonnaise when making deviled eggs.

Potato Salad

Potato salad is a great way to pack vegetables into your diet during the summer. Because it’s so tasty, easy and nutritious, it’s perfect for family summer potlucks and barbecues. There are tons of potato salad recipes you can turn to, and many people are lucky enough to have a secret family recipe they use. Even if you’ve never made your own potato salad before, with potatoes, celery, onion and eggs, you just can’t go wrong.

Chicken Wraps

The great thing about wraps is that there are endless delicious and healthy combinations. A basic wrap starts with a tortilla, lettuce, cheese and chicken, with additional fillings such as onion, tomato, bell peppers and avocado. To make it even healthier, opt for high-fiber tortillas, spinach tortillas or whole grain tortillas. Try experimenting with hummus, spinach, cucumbers, corn and beans as you please. You can even swap out the chicken for other lean meats, fish, or vegetarian alternatives.

Getting your kids interested in healthy eating this summer doesn’t have to be hard work. With these summer recipes, your kids will be able to cool off while filling their bellies with something healthy and delicious.

What’s your go-to healthy summer snack?

Fun Physical Activities for Summer

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Fun_Physical_Activities_for_Summer

By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant

Include physical activity into every family event (e.g. parties, picnics, reunions, vacations, etc.). Choose activities that are fun for everyone; remember these do not need to be competitive or sports-oriented. You may have to invest in a few equipment items to help with this; some examples are flying discs, a smashball set, a soft volleyball and net, a croquet or Bocce ball set, kites, a boogie board, an inflatable dinghy, some bikes, etc. These will obviously depend on your family’s activity preferences, weather, and where you live. Choose activities the whole family enjoys, and do them together. This month we include three activity suggestions plus a SPARK Summer BINGO card to help you stay active throughout the summer. Try them all!

Roll the Dice Fitness

Grade level: K-1

Need: One die

Youngest in the family rolls the die. All players complete the activity below for the # showing.

  1. Hop on one foot 10X
  2. Jump side-to-side 10X
  3. Skip down the hall and back
  4. Sit and reach your hands toward your feet while singing the ABC song
  5. Walk like your favorite animal
  6. Complete five push-ups (from your knees or feet)

Hopscotch

Grade level: 2-3

Need: Chalk, a small rock (or any small tossable) per player, and a cement slab (driveway, sidewalk, etc.)

Create your own hopscotch court on the sidewalk or driveway using the chalk. Make it as long or as short as you like and be sure to include single and double spaces. Second or third grader goes first; he/she tosses the rock to the first spot on the court. Challenge him/her to hop and jump to the end and back, always skipping over any spaces with a rock. Each person in the family takes a turn, starting with youngest on up to the oldest. When it comes back to the second/third grader, he/she now throws to the #2 spot. Continue through to the last spot, alternating players each round.

Disc Golf

Grade level: 4-5

Need: One flying disc per player, an outdoor area (like a park or the beach) with various objects to use as targets.

The object of the game is to reach the “hole” with your disc from the starting point in as few throws as possible. Start by choosing a target for the “hole” (like a tree or fence post) that will be challenging to reach in 2-4 throws. All players begin at the same spot, beginning with the youngest and continuing to the oldest. After all have tossed, they move quickly to their discs and the player farthest from the “hole” throws next. All watch out for incoming discs! Continue until all have reached the target and everyone counts how many throws it took to get there.

Choose another object and begin on next “hole,” and after completing, continue for a total of 9 or 18 “holes.” Afterwards, everyone tallies their total score, adds their age, and that is their final score. Lower scores are the goal.

Try to improve each time you play, and change the course to make it easier or more challenging each time.

Staying Active over Summer Break

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Staying_Active_over_Summer_Break

By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant

It’s finally summer break! Your kids have been working hard all school year long and now they get to sleep in and veg out all day, right? Well, while they technically could do that, they really shouldn’t! Having so much free time over the summer is a nice break from the constant go, go, go! scheduling that often occurs during the school year. But rather than seeing summer as an opportunity to be more physically active, many see it as a chance to do…nothing. All that hard-earned fitness goes straight out the window. It must be remembered that the recommendation for 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity for children is not just for during the school year; it’s for ALL year! So, while there may not be recess or PE time scheduled into their days, children still need to get outside and get active doing something they enjoy in order to stay healthy and maintain their fitness throughout the year. Here are some tips for making that happen:

Be Supportive

If you need to be at work and your kids are too young to be at home unsupervised, summer camps that promote physical activity are a great way to keep your children active through the summer.

If at least one parent can be at home with the kids, offer to support them by:

  • Allowing your children to get together with friends to make physical activity more fun.
  • Providing toys that encourage their activity like a jump rope, bicycle, balls, flying discs, etc.
  • Providing transportation to and from physical activity venues when you can.
  • Engaging in physical activity with your children. This not only makes it more fun for them, it also gets you active as well!
  • Doing anything you can! Studies show children who feel supported are more likely to be physically active.

Plan Ahead

If your goal is to be active at least 60 minutes each day, you are going to need to schedule time for that. If you don’t, the day fills up with your errands and household chores, and kids end up settling in for hours of sedentary activities like watching TV or playing video games. Remember, though, that you don’t need to be active for 60 minutes all in one bout. In order to break it up, you could plan something in the morning and something in the evening, when it’s cooler.

To mix it up and keep it fresh, try rotating activities each day. Plan each week with your children so everyone gets a say in what you all do. When children are part of the decision-making there’s a bit more buy-in. Here’s a sample of a weekly plan with input from the whole family:

Monday: Take a dog walk in the a.m. and play basketball in the p.m.

Tuesday: Take a bike ride in the a.m. and a hike in the p.m.

Wednesday: Play catch in the a.m. and take a dog walk in the p.m.

Thursday: Go to the playground in the a.m. and swim at the beach or pool in the p.m.

Friday: Take a walk in the a.m. and kick a soccer ball around in the p.m.

Saturday: Go to the beach, a lake, or a park and bring lots of toys for activity!

Sunday: Take a hike

Everything may not go as planned, but do the best you can to keep physical activity a top priority each day and you’ll be giving your kids a better chance to reach their 60 minute goal.

Set Limits

Limit your children’s (and the whole family’s) screen time. The number of minutes is up to you, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a limit of 1-2 hours each day. This includes all types of screens including TV, movies, phones, tablets, computers, etc. Kids who are in front of screens more than 2 hours a day have a higher risk of being overweight and may have irregular sleep patterns.

Keeping TV, phones, tablets, and computers out of your children’s rooms is a big help. Those who have them in their room spend an extra 90 minutes glued to them than children without.

When children are watching TV, set a rule that there is no sitting during commercials. It helps to break up their screen time and limit the consecutive minutes seated.

Have Fun!

Keeping your activities fun is a great way to ensure your children will be active now as well as in the future. You want them to associate activity with enjoyment. Getting their input is important, but also exposing them to a variety of activities allows them to get a little taste of everything and find which ones they enjoy the most. Here is a list of some fun ways to be active:

  • Play volleyball with a beach ball or volleyball in the backyard or park.
  • Challenge the kids to a create-your-own obstacle course at the playground.
  • Take a family walk and prompt your kids to balance walk the curb and short walls as you go along.
  • Shoot baskets with an age-appropriate ball and basket.
  • Play a tag game at the park.
  • Take a nature walk at a park or preserve.
  • Play create-your-own golf using flying discs or soccer balls at your local park.
  • Take a family bike ride.
  • Have a nature scavenger hunt looking for things like feathers, rocks, seeds, leaves, etc.
  • Jump rope; either short or long ropes depending on everyone’s skill level.

Whatever you decide to do this summer, be sure to keep it fun and active. Your children will have a healthier, happier summer if you do!