Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Healthy gifts to gift for the holidays (Top 7 choices for families and kids)

Every year I come up with a list of healthy gifting ideas. Some years I recycle ideas from years past but this year I found some interesting contributors. I may not be Oprah,  but here is Americas Dietitians list of favorite things for the Holidays!

1. I like a gift that keeps on giving 
throughout the year. Recently I ran into a company called MightNest. They have a monthly shipment full of healthy solutions that every household needs. For only $10 a month your recipient receives simple yet useful items for the home. Check it out at Mightfix

2. Start your sous chef early by getting them a kitchen kit to help them cut fruits and vegetables safely in the kitchen. Curious Chef fruit and veggie prep kit is safe, colorful and fun. 

3. Give the gift of physical activity by buying: Jump ropes, balls, indoor mini trampolines, bike, skateboards, scooters, skates or a hula hoop. 

4. Gardening tools- From making their own Terrarium to kid sized gardening tools, gloves and aprons helps to promote a love of getting dirty and growing real food. 

5. So Easy Pop Maker is a fun way to eat smoothies, low-fat chocolate milk, lemonade and any other variety of frozen treat. Making a quick blend of vegetables and fruits and freezing them in an easy to use, and clean, pop maker makes for a quick and healthy after school snack. 

6. ChopChop Magazine is a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. A parents choice award winning magazine will provide recipes and great ideas to keep those creative culinary skills cooking throughout the year. 

7. Help them dress the part by buying new running shoes. Shoes that fit comfortably are more likely to promote more physical activity and with all the fun colors and styles you can't go wrong. 

This past summer we did a major purging of "stuff" from our lives and as we approach the holidays I am standing by my promise to myself to think about each and every gift that the kids get. I don't want to contribute to the waste in the world and I want to make sure that the kids understand that healthy gifts can be fun! 

Share the love and share the health! Have a great Holiday! 

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Must have Halloween Classroom Party Snacks!

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, October 1, 2015

31 Days of Healthy sports, Halloween, classroom and home snacks!

October is one of my favorite months of the year. So many fun fall events to look forward to, a slight change in the weather (we live in South Florida) and mid season football. The only thing I don't look forward to is the large amount of candy, colored festive foods and sugar...sugar...sugar! 
Therefore, I wanted to come up with a daily fun snack idea to share with you to reach a healthy snack time wherever you are throughout the month. 

For the next 31 days make sure and check out our Facebook page: ABCD Eat Right to "like the snack", post your own snack ideas and share the snacks.   

Here are a few pics of ideas that will be posted 
throughout the month! 

Keep up with us on Facebook so you don't miss a 
spooky healthy post! 

And don't forget to printout your Halloween Bat Masks to wrap all of your whole fruit in! 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Are you NUTS about tailgating?

Photo courtesy of Americas Production Company, Inc.
Tailgating festivities are all about grilling and grabbing easy bite sized foods and the best way to not feel bogged down after the game is to incorporate healthier snacks and foods.

I am always looking for that easy, healthy and delicious snack especially during the big game. Having young children makes it also necessary to have a variety of healthy as well as child friendly foods.

Here is a quick list of healthy snacks that you can make to cheer on the team: 

Guacamole. Full of healthy fats, a good source of fiber and over 20 vitamins and minerals, avocados make a healthy choice for tailgating events. Remember to eat in moderation and serve with an assortment of raw vegetables along with whole grain chips. 
Overtime with veggies! Lay out your tray of cauliflower and broccoli to resemble a football field. Dip the pieces of veggies in low fat Greek Yogurt dip or guacamole.

Trail mix. A great way to incorporate nuts, seeds and dried fruits for a sweet and savory nutrient rich snack. 
Edamame. Sprinkled with a small amount of sea salt, these pod filled protein and fiber rich snacks make a healthier choice over potato chips. 
Apples and nut butter are a crunchy alternative to cookies or other sweet options. Apples and nut butters are rich in fiber and nutrients.
Make them stackable! You can make salad, fruit and sweet kebabs that all have a healthy twist.

No matter who you are rooting for whether its peewee football to the NFL, tackle some of these healthy snacks at your next gathering. If you needs a few more healthy snack ideas make sure and visit Nuts.com .

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Unhealthy school lunches...It doesn't have to be this way!

We have all been there and even as a Registered dietitian I struggle with making a healthy lunch everyday for our two kids. Tufts University recently did a study on what parents send in lunchboxes and why they sent what they sent. It was interesting given all the scrutiny that school lunch has been under in the past years. Here is what I have summarized as the top 3 excuses that parents have used to pack an unhealthy lunch box: 
1. My child is a picky eater
2. I don't have time to make a healthy lunch. 
3. I don't know what to pack. 

So what does the study suggest
NOT do to make it a better lunch? 

1. Justify Junk food by telling yourself that they have to eat something and you do not want them to starve or get dehydrated.

2. Don't stock up on "grab and go's". This makes it too easy to load up the refined foods and is an easy way to forget the healthy stuff. 

3. Convince yourself that they will not eat it. If you buy it...they will (eventually) eat it. 

Consider coming together with the teachers, lunch staff and other parents to encourage them to provide healthier fare. It's called Herd immunity. If everyone pitches in a little bit, eventually the kids won't see the junk food and desire it more. 

For tips on how to bring a healthier atmosphere to the classroom and lunchroom Click here for a lunch box basics printable to share with your classroom and post in your kitchen. 

P.S. Here is a quick pic to show you what I pack for our 9 year old son. I make sure he has a fruit and/or vegetable, something from the low-fat dairy group, whole wheat bread and whole grain crackers and a protein source (In this picture the protein comes from the milk and cheese). 

Have a great school year and keep up with us on 
Facebook: ABCD Eat Right
Twitter:  @abcdeatright1
website: www.Americasdietitian.com 
email me: Brandi@abcdeatright.com 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Are you hitting the road this Labor Day weekend? Here are a few tips to keep your quick getaway healthy!

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 after Labor Day! 
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Thursday, September 3, 2015

1 in 6 kids suffer from this (?) Can you guess what that 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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