Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Classroom Halloween Party ideas. What is a fruit mask?

From the very first day that I brought our son home I have worried about the nutritional health of our children. When they were infants I worried if breast milk was enough, when they were toddlers I worried about fortified finger foods and when they started school I stressed about simple snack time offerings. Schools made it a rule that homemade goodies were not allowed and parents, like myself, were left to choose only what the grocery stores have to offer which are refined, quick and for the most part sugar laden and unhealthy choices. I decided to make a list of unrefined snack ideas that can spruce up the Holiday party. I started with Halloween and came up with a list of seven unrefined, healthy Halloween classroom party ideas.

These seven tantalizing treats can be made by the children in a classroom setting with minimal mess or prep time. They are filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and calcium that are sure to keep the festivities going in a healthy and unrefined way.

Apple Costumes
Is that a bat in the classroom? No it’s an apple with a funny mask! This Vitamin C and fiber packed treat will keep those choppers chewing. Printout the free printable and wrap those washed red or green apples. These masks will make the whole fruit mysterious and appealing! To print out the apple masks click here to takeyou to the down loadable sheets.

Banana Ghost Pops
Where does a ghost go to take a swim? Well vanilla yogurt of course! Take half of a peeled banana and place the cut end on a Popsicle stick. Press the pointy side of two small chocolate chips into the banana to make the eyes. Frozen bananas with chocolate chips make this treat especially chilling. Using the Popsicle stick dip the banana ghost into a serving of low-fat vanilla yogurt. These potassium rich ghosts swimming in a sea of calcium and protein make a super hero snack. Click here to see them on our Pinterest page! 

Swamp Water and Bugs on a Raft
Nothing says swampy like green or brown juice! Mix 100% grape juice with 100% orange juice or purchase Green Machine juice by Naked brand for an authentic swampy effect. Maneuver the swamp on a rickety raft made of apple slices with a layer of nut butter and topped with raisins and/or chocolate chips. Serve raft and water separately.

Sangre Salsa Dip
Little vampires can’t resist the temptation to dip precut carrots, celery, baked blue corn chips or pretzel sticks into Vitamin C rich tomato salsa.

Mummy Unwrapped
Some mummies just don’t have it together. Take string cheese and peel the strands off and layer them in a whole wheat tortilla. Garnish with a tablespoon of hummus and matchstick carrots. Roll together all of the ingredients in the tortilla and enjoy this protein rich and whole grain ancient inspired spooky snack.  

Witch Mix
Bring out the cauldron to mix together these fall favorites including Pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, dried edamame or dried peas, nuts, raisins, dried cranberries or apricots. This good witch mix will serve up vitamins, minerals and protein in a healthy blend.

Clementine Pumpkins
Small oranges, like Clementine’s or Cuties, can be eaten with ease by little hands. Peel the pumpkins and stick a 2 inch celery stick down the center of the pumpkin.

When it comes down to it, children like to play with their food, maybe even more than they like the bright colored, sugar filled character dressed candies, cakes and cookies. This year say goodbye to the wicked witch that brings in the artificial colors, chemicals and supped up sugar foods and say hello to the nutrition fairy that wants only healthy alternatives to ease the crazy holiday season.

R.I.P unhealthy classroom snacks.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

What are you doing for Family Health and Fitness Day this September 27th?

Why family health and fitness day?

National Family Health and Fitness Day (NFHFD) will be celebrated on September 27, the last Saturday of the month. This is the Eighteenth year that the Health Information Resource Center (HIRC) has promote the national event in order to recognize the importance of family influenced physical activity. NFHFD is inspired by the US Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health which stated that the majority of Americans and especially children between the ages of 12 to 21 are not participating in enough exercise.
The national day of recognition emphasizes that fitness can be fun and that as a family it is an important part of staying healthy and building a healthy lifestyle. 

Try some of these fun activities to get your family moving on September 27 and everyday to come: 
  1. Pick a park and go for a walk
  2. Bike ride around the neighborhood
  3. Hula hooping contest 
  4. Obstacle Course set around the house
  5. Dance party

On September 27, and any day of the year, become a role model for your children and encourage your entire family to get moving for at least 30 minutes per day!

Just do it...everyday! 

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Are you ready for some football?

Tailgating is a community bonding experience that can be filled with outrageously delicious, but not always the most healthy, foods. Here are 5 healthy and easy food items that can be added to any tailgating festivity that squeeze in a little bit of healthy fats, vegetables and lean proteins. Guaranteed to  score a touch down with the taste buds and the body!

1. Guacamole- mash up a few ripe avocados, squeeze a half a lemon and add salt and pepper to taste. Dip your favorite chopped vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, red peppers, cauliflower. 

2. Skewered thinly cut chicken strips with cherry tomatoes and onion. Marinate the chicken overnight in balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper

3. Salad on a stick: Layer chopped romaine lettuce, quartered tomatoes, carrot slices or coins, red pepper slices and cucumbers. Dip in oil and vinegar. 

4. Grilled portabello mushrooms with goat cheese. 

5. Grilled stuffed peppers. Stuff with black beans, cheese and cooked rice or cooked quinoa and garbanzo beans. 

Have a great season!

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Recipes: Tour guides or the Law what do you think?


Do you ever follow a recipe? My clients are often asking me what I eat and what I cook for my family. I go back and forth and usually end up somewhere between following a recipe and branching off to substitute ingredients I don't have or know that my family won't eat. 

In the book Cooked: A natural history of transformation, Michael Pollan writes " the recipe is never the recipe". He continues with "a recipe is merely a sketch or notes". 

Maybe you know that, maybe you never follow a recipe and live on the edge when it comes to dinner time and you are able to throw together a meal without any qualms. But to some, recipes are the law, whatever the small font says, its followed to the utmost detail.  

Why does it matter if you follow a recipe or make up your own? 

Well...it really doesn't if you are an experienced cook. If you know how to balance meals and have your protein, vegetable, starch and dairy then you are good to go. 
But for those of us that are hindered and confused about the balance and just the anxiety of "what am I going to make every night" recipes can be key. 

Here is what I recommend...

1. Make it easy. Meal planning can be as easy as 1 + 2 + 3
Pick a flavor desired + pick a protein + side of carbohydrate and vegetables and fruits. Top off with making sure there is water or low fat milk to drink. 

2. Make it a task that is not hard and can be easily replicated

3. Use My Plate as a guide. 

Why is it important? 
1. Because planning meals are one of the best things that a family can do to stay healthy. 
2. Pre-planned meals help a family avoid fast food restaurants
3. Pre-planned meals help families stay within a budget. 

So you have burned a few pieces of toast or boiled plastic in with the pasta...things happen and there is always a new day and with each day a new idea and fabulous recipe. If you don't think cooking is fun, change your perspective. It doesn't have to be a chore, it can actually be a lab for experiments, a classroom for teaching and an area to grow and nourish your children. 

Good luck and if you need recipe ideas click here. Or if you want to check out a box full of recipes for only $40 with a menu planning system click here

**Image of child chopping vegetables by Hanna Mayo Photography. 

Twitter: @ABCD Eat Right1

Friday, September 12, 2014

1 in 6 Americans suffer from this each year...Can you guess what it is?

If you answered Food borne illness you were right! According to the US Center for Disease Control and prevention 128,000 of the 15% of Americans that suffer from food borne illness end up in the hospital every year.

September is National Food safety month and a great time to review the basics and keep your home and lunch box safe. Here are 12 tips to keep the lunchbox and kitchen food borne illness free! 

Top 6 tips to keep the kitchen healthy:

  •  Keep it clean- wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before food preparation, after handling raw meat, poultry and eggs and before you move to the next step in cooking. (Sing the ABC Song or click here for more fun song ideas)
  • Always rinse fruits and vegetables before eating and peeling
  • Cook meats to the proper temperature: Click here for the internal temperature chart. 
  • Wash your surfaces with soapy water after prepping meals.
  • Avoid cross contamination, store raw foods below cooked foods, swap out grilling tools to avoid raw cross contamination.
  • Thaw overnight or thaw in cold running water (do not let sit in a bath of water).

 Top 6 tips to keep the lunchbox healthy: 

  • Pack 2 freezer packs if the lunch contains perishable foods such as meats, eggs or yogurt. Frozen water bottles or juice boxes, as well as freezing yogurt can be used to help keep the lunchbox within a safe temperature range. By lunchtime these items will be ready to eat or drink.
  • Clean the lunch boxes often by wiping them down or tossing them in the washing machine. 
  • Pack lunches in an insulated lunchbox instead of paper bags (its better for the environment and it keeps foods safer).
  • Throw away any leftover food and packaging after lunch is over. Do not reuse packaging unless it has been thoroughly washed. 
  • Pack the lunch the night before and keep in the refrigerator, this keeps the meal cooler longer and makes it easier during the morning rush. 
  • Wash your hands before you start meal preparation and make sure to tell kids to wash their hands before meal time. 

Cheers to a healthy school year that is food borne illness free! 

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Testing and tasting...in the kitchen again with the kids cooking up pancakes and waffles!

The kids were motivated to try something new this morning and wanted to explore new breakfast ideas. I had a recipe that I wanted to try but they were not too keen on coconut so I let Jackson do his own thing with pancakes and Olivia and I worked on a new coconut banana waffle. 
The mess ensued but there was a lot of laughter and little minds working hard at measuring and planning what would go into the recipes. 
Jackson likes cinnamon and vanilla and although I felt it was too much, I let him add as much as he wanted and even try tasting vanilla. Vanilla smells much better than it tastes on its own and he quickly learned that :) 

The end product was awesome and the kids ate them up. 
Jackson named his: Pancakes (but must be said with a British accent) and Olivia's coconut banana waffles are gluten free and boosted with protein using a PB2 product. 

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Friday, August 29, 2014

34 Million people are traveling this weekend? Are you one of them? If so, what are you going to eat?

According to AAA Travel, over 34 million people plan to travel this weekend! If  you are one of them and your not looking forward to unhealthy food consider some of the following tips!

Traveling is a great place to get in your refined foods. Theme parks, beaches and family reunions host a number of unhealthy eating choices. This is also a time of year where you may feel compelled to throw out your healthy eating habits and give in to the easy route of fast food and quick picks.

Here are five tips for circumventing the junk on your family vacay so that you don't go home feeling worse than you did before you left for your summer fun.

1. Research rocks-
A little pre-planning goes a long way. After you have picked your vacation city do a search for healthy fare in the area. Find out which restaurants have healthier choices. Here are a couple of websites I like to look at: www.vegdining.com and www.happycow.net

2. A little pre-shopping goes a long way-
Let's face it, no matter how hard we try there are very few "clean" options available at theme parks. The best that we did were salads but we ate at the best restaurant the theme park had. It's best to bring your own healthy snacks. When we went to the theme parks we loaded up on dried fruits (mangoes, raisins, cranberries), dried nuts, Kind bars, apples and oranges as well as bottled water.

3. Dine in-
When choosing a place to stay, consider a condo or renting a house. The ability to have a kitchen is by far a life saver when trying to avoid unrefined foods. Double check to see if you have access to a grill. This is a great way to spend time with the family in the great outdoors and an easy way to cook vegetables and lean meats.

4. Hydrate the right way
Don't forget about the importance of hydration. Sometimes being dehydrated gets in the way of eating healthy. Your efforts to take in extra fluids can lead to your intake of easy refined foods that are quick to grab when grabbing a drink. Bring your own water bottle full of water, fresh juice blends or smoothies.

5. Adventure hunt - Seek out local produce or farmers markets in the area where you are vacationing.When we were headed down to the Florida Keys we stopped at an amazing local fruit stand called Robert is Here. Our kids experienced amazing local tropical fruit and we bought enough local produce to last us the 4 days we were in Key Largo. To find local farmers markets in your area of vacationing visit:  http://www.localharvest.org/

Have a safe weekend and we will see you in September!