Halloween is fast approaching and let’s face it … this day can be a nightmare for any family trying to make healthy choices! The good news is, a little planning and foresight can take the fright out of the night. So try on these Halloween hints for size!
Here are a few Halloween hints to make your day safe and healthy!
Decide in advance what to do with the loot! A piece of candy isn’t a bad thing but a sugar coma from eating half a bag of candy is! How will you divvy up the goods? The danger isn’t just for the kids; it’s really easy for us adults to help ourselves to those treats as well.
Go Trick or Treating. Sure, you’re filling your bag with candy but you’re also out walking the neighborhood. Map out your streets and take the whole family out for an hour or so. Challenge yourselves to walk a certain number of miles while you’re out!
Make sure you wear reflective clothing or have flashlights on your family. Kids are excited and drivers are distracted, so do you best to make yourself visible.
Remember it’s a school night! Start early enough that your kids still get a good night’s sleep and limit their sugar intake. Your child’s teacher will thank you!
Lead by example. Find fun and healthy treats to give away at your house. We got some great ideas via facebook; from small bags of microwave popcorn, small boxes of whole grain cereal, fruit snacks, stickers and more! You’ll be glad when you don’t have left over candy lying around to tempt you too!
If you have any other Halloween hints, we’d love to hear them! Feel free to share on our facebook page!
If you’re looking for a low-carb, high-fiber alternative to the old fan-favorite, pizza, try mini zucchini pizzas! The summer squash, zucchini, is an August Foods of the Month because it is in-season and ripe for the picking (so it’s at peak flavor)! Zucchini contains so many fantastic nutrients such as vitamin A, magnesium, folate, potassium, copper, and phosphorus as well as a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, niacin, and protein. Click here for more incredible benefits!
To make this simple recipe, slice zucchini into rounds (or if you prefer, lengthwise), place on a baking sheet and then grill or broil for several minutes until the zucchini begins to soften. Remove from the oven and top with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and any other topping you’d like. Try nitrite-free turkey pepperoni, olives or your favorite spices to make each ‘slice’ unique! Continue to broil until the cheese begins to bubble and serve hot.
Mini Zucchini Pizzas are a fun way to get your pizza fix and your veggies all in one!
This quick and easy Chickpea Celery Dip recipe is a delicious plant-based snack. Enjoy this dip, which only takes a few minutes to eat, after school or after lunch. Usually, we think of celery as something that you use for dipping, but in this recipe, the celery is in the dip! Celery is also a stem vegetable, which is a March Foods of the Month.
We love that this Chickpea Celery Dip recipe is full of nutritious ingredients like chickpeas, celery, herbs and Greek yogurt. Chickpeas are packed with fiber, protein, and other important nutrients like magnesium, and iron. Celery is naturally very low in calories and provides some fiber too. Impress your friends with this dip recipes. It’s a fun way to put a stem vegetable in a dip. Serve with whole grain crackers, pretzels or pita chips.
According to the parent website www.pbs.org/parents/food-and-fitness sponsored by the Public Broadcasting System, as well as various other on-line resources, there are some simple guidelines for parents to follow to encourage their kids to eat healthy foods:
1.Get them involved.
Don’t just take your kids along with you to the grocery store; actively involve them on the front end in meal planning. Let them help plan a menu and choose a recipe to follow so that they are participants in the meal preparation process. Have them take inventory of what is in your pantry or refrigerator so they know what ingredients are already on hand – then let them make a shopping list. If they are too young for that, let them help you decide what cheese or fruit to buy or help you make a simple, no-cook recipe like a fruit parfait with yogurt for a healthy dessert. Kids, like adults, like choices!
2.Go to the source.
Don’t limit your grocery shopping to the local supermarket. Take your family to a farmer’s market or to visit a dairy farm. Pick berries together during the summer for a homemade dessert your child can serve to his or her friends on a Saturday play date.Plant a garden – tomatoes and cucumbers are “no fail” choices your child can plant and watch grow. Teaching kids where their food comes from helps make them more environmentally aware as well.
3.Make healthy snacks available.
Your children will eat what you provide for them. If you buy healthy snacks rather than those with unhealthy fat and a high-sugar content, that is what they will learn to like.Putting those nutritious snacks on shelves where they can easily access them and keeping healthy choices available for trips in the car are also strategies that make healthy eating easier. Good choices are peanut butter, low-sugar applesauce, any kind of fresh or dried fruit, sliced vegetables, whole grain crackers, nuts and bottled water. And don’t forget the importance of drinking lots of liquids. Your child doesn’t have to just eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, he can also drink them. Smoothies and mixed fruit drinks can be a fun way to introduce new fruits and serve as a healthy snack between meals.
4.Don’t give up when introducing new foods.
Studies show that most children may need between 5 and 10 exposures to a new food before being willing to try it. If you plan family-friendly meals and let your child pick and choose from what is on the table, your chances for success will improve. Try to include a variety of options – some foods your child really likes as well as some new foods to try. Remember to be a role model for your child and sample some of everything and your child will learn to do so as well. And, remember – don’t give up the first time your child rejects something!
5.Be a role model and teach healthy eating habits early
Studies have shown that children’s food tastes are highly correlated with foods that their mothers liked or disliked. If you order a healthy salad and drink water, even if it is at a fast food restaurant, your child is more likely to do the same. In a health study published in 2004 by Oxford Academic, researchers found that “a positive parental role model may be a better method for improving a child’s diet than attempts at dietary control.” In other words, rather than telling your child “no” relative to his or her food choices, model positive food choices yourself.
Use meal and snack times as teachable moments to help even the youngest children make wise food choices. Remember that as a parent, you are the #1 teacher of your child.Much of what you teach them is transmitted through your actions more than your words. The choices we make for ourselves as adults, and what we model for our children, create lasting impressions that stay with your child way into their own adulthood. Stressing the importance of healthy eating habits for your family and for yourself encourages lifelong patterns from which both you and your children will benefit!
We all know the importance of protein to maintain and repair the body, but many new parents worry that their baby or toddler may not be getting enough protein in their early, formative years. Because protein is essential to growth and development, it is critical that little ones get enough of this vital nutrient because they are growing so rapidly. In fact, babies and toddlers need more protein per pound of body weight than older children or even adults.
What exactly is protein and why is it so important? Protein, along with carbohydrates and fats, are three essential nutrients found in food that all of us need. We get protein from certain foods that our bodies then digest into small compounds called amino acids. There are many amino acids but humans use only 22 of them to grow and maintain our bones, muscles, blood, skin, hair and organs. Of the 22 amino acids we humans must have, our bodies can make 13 of them. We have to get the other 9 – called essential amino acids – from protein-rich foods, such as meat, eggs, dairy products and beans.
So what do babies do to get their protein? The good news is that breast milk or formula supplies all the calories and protein a baby needs until they are 4 to 6 months old. Before that time, a baby’s digestive system simply isn’t ready for more than a liquid diet. After 6 months, however, protein-rich solid foods should gradually be introduced to supplement the mother’s breast milk or formula. It is important that babies get protein every day because the body doesn’t store protein the way it stores fat and carbohydrates.
Protein is important for infants because the body weight of a baby doubles by age 6 months – and scientists estimate that about 10 percent of a young child’s energy comes from protein. Skimping on protein can slow down a baby’s growth and development, make them susceptible to illness, retard the development of the heart and lungs and gradually sap the energy that they need to grow into healthy children and adults.
The Ohio State University Extension Service recommends feeding infants strained or chopped meats and mashed beans at 6 to 8 months and mashed egg yolks, cottage cheese and yogurt at 8 to 10 months. At 10 to 12 months, babies can eat the same protein-rich foods the rest of the family eats, though the foods should be soft and cut into small pieces. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends starting your child on solids between 4 and 6 months and to look for some of these developments as signs of “readiness”:
Can sit upright and hold up his head
Is curious, looking at everything around him
Has mastered tongue movement
Seems hungry after getting a full day’s portion of milk (eight to 10 breast feedings or about 32 ounces of formula)
As your child grows, it is also important that your toddler gets plenty of protein. Once your child is up and walking, protein is needed to power muscles, and brain cells require sufficient protein to learn speech and language skills. Healthy 1- to 3-year-olds need 0.55 grams of protein per pound daily, which means the average 29-pound toddler should get 16 grams of protein each day, according to the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor University.
Here are some good sources of protein for your child:
Egg yolks can be mashed and given to a baby as part of a healthy diet. Egg yolks mixed into rice or pasta or served with toast can provide an easy snack or main course. Avoid egg whites until after the first birthday, says Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and consult your pediatrician if members of your family have egg allergies before introducing eggs into your child’s diet.
Broiled, baked or grilled chicken that is diced very small is a good source of protein for babies.
Chicken can be tossed with chopped pasta or served plain alongside some steamed vegetables. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta recommends chicken cooked at home over the jarred variety because it does not contain any fillers.
Protein is abundant in dairy foods, such as cow’s milk, yogurt and cheese. A baby should be 8 months old before cheese is introduced and dairy should be avoided altogether if an allergy is suspected.
High protein infant cereal helps meet protein needs for babies too young for chunky solid foods.
The cereal should be mixed with breastmilk or formula. Pureed baby fruits or vegetables can also be stirred into the cereal to improve the taste and boost its nutritional value.
With one in three kids overweight, obesity has become the top health concern in the USA. How has obesity “plagued” the nation, and what can we do about it?
Did you know that nearly one in three American children is overweight? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, the childhood obesity rate has almost been tripled in the past three decades. Overweight children are prone to immediate and long-term health effects, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, dangerous blood cholesterol levels, and even death in adulthood. Moreover, overweight children often suffer from low self-esteem, negative body image, and depression.
For those reasons, childhood obesity is the prime health concern in the USA today, even bigger than smoking and drug abuse. The drastic effects of childhood obesity echo clearly in the words of former Surgeon General Richard Carmona:
“Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.”
Childhood Obesity According to Ethnicity
Heart.org has released percentages of childhood obesity by ethnicity for children between the ages of 2 and 19:
For non-Hispanic whites, 17.5 percent of males and 14.7 percent of females.
For non-Hispanic blacks, 22.6 percent of males and 24.8 percent of females.
For Mexican-Americans, 28.9 percent of males and 18.6 percent of females.
How Do I Know if my Child Is Overweight?
Body Mass Index, or BMI, is widely used to determine a person’s body fat by correlating weight and height measurements. Rather than calculating the ratio yourself, use the BMI calculator for accurate readings.
Once you find your child’s BMI rating, it can be plotted on a standard BMI chart, which is given below for kids aged 2-19.
Underweight: BMI below the 5th percentile
Normal Weight: BMI at the 5th and less than the 85th percentiles
Overweight: BMI at the 85th and below the 95th percentiles
Obese: BMI at or above the 95th percentile
However, BMI calculations are not meant to determine body fat in infants or young toddlers. A physician can use special “weight for length” charts to estimate body fat in babies or infants.
In some cases, BMI can be misleading, for example . . .
Muscular children may have high BMIs, without being overweight, because much of the weight comes from extra muscle rather than fat.
Children experience rapid growth during puberty.
If your child seems overweight, consult your doctor, who can suggest changes in lifestyle and diet, based on a medical screening of your child.
Causes of Being Overweight
From genetics to medications, lifestyles and eating habits, many factors contribute to becoming obese. Children prefer snacks and fast foods over healthy and homemade food. Tight schedules and busy lives make it difficult to find time to prepare healthy meals or to exercise. Therefore, even kids with good BMIs can develop the tendency to become overweight.
What is the Role of the Parent in Tackling Childhood Obesity?
A parent’s support and effort are essential to keep childhood obesity at bay. As a responsible parent, you must encourage your children to eat healthy food and engage in physical activities in the following ways:
Improve your kids’ eating habits by adding healthy, real foods to their daily diet.
Limit their consumption of fast foods and snacks.
Motivate them to engage in physical activities, workouts, and sports.
Explain to them the benefits of health in one’s life, such as increased energy, better focus, etc.
In addition to parents, schools play an important role by creating a safe and supportive environment to encourage healthy eating and physical activities.