Parents feel responsible for the future well-being of their children. Whether that well-being is defined as physical, emotional, or psychological, we know that healthy children – who learn good habits at a young age – are more likely than not to develop into healthy adults. Interestingly enough, a focus on physical well-being can lead to beneficial patterns of behavior in both the emotional and psychological realms. Feeling good physically makes anyone feel better about themselves in general, and as a parent, helping your child stay active and engaged in activities other than watching television or playing video games is an important goal to try to achieve.
Recommendations Regarding Physical Activity for Children
The American Heart Association recommends that children over the age of 2 participate in at least 60 minutes of enjoyable, moderate-intensity physical activities every day. Those physical activities should be developmentally appropriate and varied so that your child enjoys the experience and feels successful.
If 60 minutes per day seem too difficult because of your work schedule or your childcare logistics (and there seems to be barely enough time for your child to even do his or her homework), try to provide at least two 30-minute periods or four 15-minute periods in which they can engage in vigorous activities appropriate to their age and stage of physical and emotional development.
Strategies to Increase Physical Activity in Children
A related strategy is to work on reducing sedentary time (e.g., watching television, playing computer video games or talking on the phone). First of all, try to actually track how much time your child spends now on the phone or siting in front of an electronic device. Then, set limits and begin to reduce the allotted time for these activities to create time in the day for being physically active.
Don’t forget to ask your child what kind of physical activity they enjoy. Remember, being active is supposed to be FUN! Being physically active doesn’t have to be hard. Riding bikes with friends, jumping rope, playing hopscotch, and running a relay around the park all qualify as meaningful physical activity. Any game that gets your child up and moving is a great way to stay physically active and make their heart, bones, and muscles strong.
Also, remember that parents should try to be role models for an active lifestyle and teach your children through example that you, too, value increased physical activity. Show them that you value the importance of daily exercise. Take the stairs or park the furthest distance from the entrance to the store so that you can more steps in your day. Take the family for a weekend hike, ride your bicycles together, walk to the store after school, sign up for a parent/child yoga class or just shoot hoops in the park. Any of these options will provide you both not only with exercise but also valuable time together. You will both benefit!
The results should be almost immediate. You will begin to notice that your child demonstrates improved psychological well-being, more self-confidence and higher self-esteem. Feeling good physically benefits your child’s overall health – a worthy goal for any parent and one that you can readily achieve.
Do you ever find a recipe that you just LOVE and know will be part of your regular rotation? That is how we feel about this recipe for Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese. It never would have occurred to us to put Greek yogurt in a cheese sauce, but now that we have tried it, it makes perfect sense! The Greek yogurt adds a good amount of protein to this dish. In February, we celebrate reduced-fat dairy as an OrganWise Guys Foods of the Month. Greek yogurt is considered reduced-fat dairy. And, so is the cheese found in this recipe!
What makes this recipe for Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese special in our books? There are a few things. Using whole wheat pasta provides a good serving of whole grains and fiber. Every pasta dish is better with some added vegetables, we think. The broccoli provides some powerful antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin B6. Broccoli is also a good source of calcium. Add in reduced-fat cheese and Greek yogurt and this is the perfect meal to keep your bones healthy!
The key to the tastiest cheese sauce is making it from scratch. This is called a roux. We used extra virgin olive oil (a good fat) instead of butter to keep this Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese recipe a bit healthier.
Once you make this recipe one time and see how easy it is, you will be back for more. It’s the perfect kid-friendly dinner that can be on the table in a snap!
1 box whole grain pasta like elbows, bowties, or penne
1 10 oz. package frozen broccoli florets
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 cup low-fat milk
2 cups reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (we like to shred our own but you can buy prepackaged)
3/4 cup low-fat, plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook the pasta according to directions. After cooking for about 3 minutes, add the frozen broccoli florets. When pasta is al dente, drain and set aside.
Use a saucepan on medium heat to make the cheese sauce. Add the olive oil. When it begins to heat up, add the flour and mix together until smooth. Next, add the milk and mix. Finally, add the shredded cheese and mix well until no lumps remain.
Let the cheese sauce cool, then add the Greek yogurt. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and broccoli and mix together until the pasta and broccoli are coated in cheese.
Spray a small casserole dish or glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Add the pasta and top with panko breadcrumbs. Bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.
As parents and as educators, we have the responsibility to help our children make good choices in a variety of contexts:social, emotional, and intellectual. That same responsibility also extends to nutrition since we want children to develop healthy habits relative to what they eat and how much. Those good habits help to provide the necessary fuel for learning but will also serve them well throughout their lifetimes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The percentage of children aged 6-11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12-19 years who were obese increased from 5 percent to nearly 21 percent over the same period. For adolescents, the percentage of children who are obese has more than quadrupled in the past 30 years.” Clearly childhood obesity is a problem.
Five years ago, Congress passed legislation that transformed how the nation’s public schools feed students. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act required these schools to serve more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and less sugar, fat and salt. These requirements align with the most recent 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines published by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and of Agriculture (USDA). These two federal agencies must jointly publish a report every five years containing nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public. The statute (Public Law 101-445, 7 U.S.C. 5341 et seq.) requires that these Dietary Guidelines be based on the most current scientific and medical knowledge.
The Guidelines, which are detailed below, support parents and schools in their efforts to help children learn good eating habits:
Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter.
Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintaina healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits,choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.
This same general framework guides the preparation of meals served in public schools.Breakfasts and lunches prepared in your child’s cafeteria must not only meet these Dietary Guidelines for Americans but also comply with the specific federal nutrition requirements of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. If they are found to be out of compliance, schools lose their federal reimbursement for some of the major costs associated with feeding public school students.
This means that your child’s school must provide him or her with the right balance of fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free milk, whole grains and lean protein with every meal. Meals served must also limit the amount of sodium, calories and unhealthy fat contained in all foods served.There are also standards that apply to all foods and beverages sold in school during the school day at times other than breakfast and lunch. Foods sold in vending machines, snack bars and a la carte lines, for example, must also meet standards established in 2014 and provide healthy choices for your child.
Since the new standards took effect in 2012, school districts have worked hard to adjust, devising more effective ways to serve food that is healthful as well as appealing. Many have developed salad bars with more diverse and interesting choices, introduced a range of spices besides salt, and increased the use of frozen vegetables rather than canned, to improve taste and lower sodium content. If you want more information, contact your child’s school for menus, nutritional guidelines and other details. By working together, you can make a difference in your child’s eating habits now and throughout their lifetime!
Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of this holiday that celebrates all things love, we want to share with you a heart-healthy, body friendly dessert option. This may look decadent, but it’s incredibly healthy thanks to some tips from vegan cooking. Have you ever tried to cook vegan before? This Vegan Valentine’s Dessert is the perfect way to start if you are a newbie.
The photo of this dessert looks like cream, refined sugar, eggs and flour, right? Guess what? There is none of that in this recipe! Instead, this Vegan Valentine’s Dessert is made mostly with nuts and dates. We use almonds, cashews, coconut oil, coconut milk, dates, and a few other small ingredients in this recipe. That’s all! The beautiful pink color is not because of food coloring… it’s strawberry! Read below for this delicious and healthy Vegan Valentine’s Dessert recipe. You will love it.
2 cups raw cashews, soaked in a bowl of boiling water for 1 hour
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup honey
The juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup light coconut milk (including the cream from the top
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup frozen or fresh strawberries, chopped
Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap.
Using a food processor, process together the dates, almonds, coconut flakes and water. It should form a thick, sticky mixture that will be the "crust" for this dessert.
Once combined, transfer the crust to the loaf pan. Spread it (using a spoon on your fingers) in an even layer over the bottom of the bread pan. Refrigerate while you make your filling.
Next, make your filling. Using the food processor again, process together the cashews, coconut oil, honey, lemon and coconut milk. Process until a smooth, creamy mixture is formed. Add the vanilla and process again.
Remove the crust from the fridge, then pour half of the filling mixture over the crust (leave the rest in the food processor, you will use it later). Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the chopped strawberries over the mixture. Freeze for 1 hour.
Use the second half of the filling mixture to make the third, pink layer. Process together the mixture with the remaining 3/4 cup strawberries until it is pink. Remove dessert from freezer and pour the rest of the pink filling over the second layer.
Freeze for 3 hours. Remove, cut into slices and drizzle with melted dark chocolate. Enjoy!
Store this dessert in the freezer. It will melt like ice cream!
Are you not getting hungry just looking at this picture of our Avocado Brownies? Avocados, a type of good fat, are a February Foods of the Month. Did you know that you can use avocado instead of butter or oil in recipes for baked goods? That is exactly what we did in this recipe for Avocado Brownies!
The great thing about these Avocado Brownies is that they are packed with heart-healthy fats. The fat in avocado helps to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) while boosting good cholesterol (HDL). Additionally, avocados are full of additional nutrients that butter and oil lack. Think of these little vegetables are a food that is packed with fiber, potassium, Vitamin C and Vitamin B-6.
Another thing that we love about this recipe is that it is relatively low in sugar. By using applesauce and maple syrup, you can avoid adding any white sugar. If you want to boost the flavor even more, we recommend adding some dark chocolate morsels and walnuts to the existing recipe. The dessert is truly decadent and healthy!
Microwave the chocolate chips until melted, then use a mixer to combine with the wet ingredients (applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla extra). Crack in each egg, one at a time, to the wet mixture until they are well incorporated.
Add the mashed avocado to the wet mixture
Meanwhile, use a large bowl to mix the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder and sea salt). Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and continue to mix until thoroughly combined, forming a batter.
Pour the batter into a a nonstick 9 x 9 pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Have you made couscous before? This North African dish is known for “being so nice they named it twice!” Couscous are tiny balls of dried pasta that only take about 5 minutes to prepare. They make a great base for this Healthy Couscous with Feta recipe.
Feta cheese, with 6 grams of fat per ounce, is reduced-fat dairy, which is a February Foods of the Month. Feta has a salty taste that we love, especially when paired with the savory flavors in this Healthy Couscous with Feta recipe like lean chicken breast, zucchini and toasted pistachios. What also goes well with feta? Extra virgin olive oil, of course! There is a hefty dose of extra virgin olive oil (also a February Foods of the Month), in this recipe to keep you full while also promoting heart health.
This recipe takes only 30 minutes to prepare. It makes a large portion that can be enough for a family dinner plus leftovers. Or, make it as part of your weekly mealy prep and eat it for lunch for a week. The combination of ingredients in this Healthy Couscous with Feta recipe is one that you can feel good about eating.
If you are anything like us, you want to have simple, easy to make lunches that are also nutritious. Lunches like these are even better if you can prepare them in bulk at the beginning of the week and grab them from the fridge before heading out the door in the morning. Not only is this much more convenient than having to purchase meals each day, but it is also much cheaper. That’s why we love this Broccoli Chicken Salad recipe.
This recipe for Broccoli Chicken Salad can be prepared and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. We love it because it’s full of broccoli (a cruciferous vegetable), which is a January Foods of the Month. Broccoli is an excellent source of Vitamin C. One serving has more than 220% of your daily requirement! It is also a good source of fiber and potassium.
This Broccoli Chicken Salad recipe is also packed full of protein thanks to the chicken, Greek yogurt and pumpkin seeds. If you decide to eat it on whole grain brain with a slice of cheese, you will also add more fiber and calcium to this nutrient packed meal. Or, enjoy it plain, it’s that delicious!
Who loves hummus? We do! Hummus is a tasty dip for veggies and crackers that is made with chickpeas. Since we enjoy hummus so much, why not experiment with a different type of bean? Beans like chickpeas, black beans, and Great Northern Beans are a January Foods of the Month. For this Easy White Bean Dip, we use Great Northern Beans.
The great thing about making your own dip is that it is cost-effective, and super simple. You can also experiment with different herbs and spices to really customize your recipe to flavors that you love. For example, in this recipe, you could add some fresh rosemary instead of parsley or some red chili pepper flakes if you like spiciness. It’s fun to play around with the different combinations when you make your own foods! To make this Easy White Bean Dip, as well as any other bean dip, you will need a food processor or a blender. Other than that, it’s incredibly easy to make bean dips, like the title of this recipe suggests. Enjoy!
Have you ever made risotto before? It seems like an intimidating dish, but we promise it is easy! This recipe for Broccoli Parmesan Risotto is the perfect cold weather comfort food. It is also loaded with nutrients. Thanks to the broccoli, you are getting a full day’s worth of Vitamin C, plus lots of fiber and potassium. Broccoli is a type of cruciferous vegetable, which is a January Foods of the Month.
To make risotto, always choose low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth. The regular versions of broth add lots of unnecessary sodium to your dish. And, with flavors like broccoli, roasted garlic, and parmesan in this recipe, you really do not need any extra salt for flavor!
This Broccoli Parmesan risotto is tasty with salmon or grilled chicken. And, you can have leftovers for lunch the next day.
Chop the broccoli into small pieces, then transfer to a baking pan with the garlic cloves. Drizzle the broccoli and garlic with olive oil. Cook for 25 minutes, or until the broccoli is slightly blackened (this makes it taste delicious!).
While the broccoli and garlic are roasting, use a medium-sized pot on your stovetop set to medium heat to cook the onion in a little bit of olive oil until it begins to brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the arborio rice to the onion, then add 1 cup of the low-sodium chicken broth. Reduce heat to low.
Regularly stir the rice until it begins to absorb the broth. Once the first cup is absorbed, work your way through the rest of the broth, adding about 1/2 cup at a time. This whole process should take about 25 minutes, or about the same time that your broccoli is roasting.
Once all the broth has been used, taste a little bit of the rice to make sure it is cooked through and not crunchy. Add more broth if needed.
Mix in the parmesan cheese and the milk. Continue to stir until the cheese is melted.
Finally, add the roasted broccoli florets, and chop the garlic and add it as well. Mix well to combine flavors.
Serve with an additional topping of parmesan cheese.
Happy New Year! The Foods of the Month in January are dried beans and peas and cruciferous vegetables. Black-eyed peas are dried beans and peas. Furthermore, they are an excellent source of protein. Use them in lots of dishes, since they are packed with nutrients.
Celebrate the beginning of 2017 and serve this healthy dip at your next gathering. Alternatively, make a batch and eat it for lunch with a fork for a quick, nutritious bite to eat. This Black-eyed Pea Dip is really like a salad since it is full of vegetables and nutrition.
Budget-Friendly Shopping Tips.
This Black-eyed Pea Dip is also budget friendly because you are using mostly canned vegetables, which are known to be cheaper than fresh vegetables. Frozen vegetables can be a healthier choice than canned because the high sodium content is high in some canned vegetables. So, if you do pick canned, be sure to choose the low-sodium versions when grocery shopping for this recipe.
In addition to the canned vegetable section, check the frozen vegetable aisle for black-eyed peas. Legumes are often times located in the frozen section of the supermarket as well. This is a helpful tip in case you are in need of ingredients that you cannot find in the canned aisle.