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What Nutritionists Pack Their Kids For Lunch

Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Kids aren’t exactly known for their refined palates, which can cause issues for parents who want to pack healthy lunches for them to take to school.

But delicious and nutritious options are available ― and they don’t always take a long time to put together.

HuffPost asked a group of nutritionists what they pack in their children’s lunch boxes, and they shared their general guidelines and kid-approved dish ideas.


“Like many parents, my wife and I work hard to find the balance between what our kids like and what is good for them. It’s important to us to reduce high-sugar and high-sodium options, which limits options, as many convenience foods tend to be saturated in these ingredients. It’s helpful for us to prepare healthier options at the beginning of the week and keep them in the refrigerator so they’re readily available and convenient when we need them. Our oldest daughter, as an example, likes edamame. Often, when we pack that in her lunch, she ends up sharing with friends who also like to eat them.”  ― Rick Hall, a clinical professor and registered dietitian at Arizona State University

Favorite fruits and veggies

“While my goal is to pack all five food groups in my preschooler’s lunch, I really strive to serve a fruit, vegetable and healthy protein option. My preschooler is given a snack at school that is usually a whole grain, so I load up on his favorite fruits (apples, grapes, bananas) and veggies (cucumber slices, red bell pepper sticks, carrots). And when it comes to protein, he loves individual hummus cups and crackers, or cheese and turkey roll-ups.” ― Katie Serbinski, a registered dietitian and founder of Mom to Mom Nutrition

“Vegetables and fruit top up my kids’ vitamin needs, and add variety and color. Kids eat with their eyes first!” ― Cara Rosenbloom, a registered dietitian and founder of Words To Eat By


Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Healthier PB&J

“A typical lunch for our kiddos includes a half sandwich with peanut butter and instead of jelly, fruit like grapes, banana, pomegranates, etc. We combine our professional knowledge in nutrition with our practical knowledge of ‘what will my kids eat’ ― we also often have them help us make their lunches so they have a say in what goes in there. Building off the base of always having a fruit (in this case on the sandwich), veggie (usually to dip), protein (peanut butter) and grain (sprouted grain bread), they can pick and choose from what we have. They love helping and getting involved, and it also teaches autonomy and teaches them how to balance their plates.” ― Christopher Mohr, a registered dietitian and co-founder of Mohr Results with Kara Mohr

“I’m a firm believer in serving something familiar or ‘liked’ when it comes to school lunch, with both something healthy and ‘treats’ mixed in. School is a time when your child might be missing Mom or Dad, so their favorite PB&J or Cheerios trail mix every day isn’t the end of their diet. Just serve a new fruit or veggie with their dinner to make up for it!” ― Serbinski

Whole-grain pasta salad

“One family favorite is pasta primavera salad with roasted tomatoes and chicken with baby spinach. I use whole-grain pasta (bowtie or pinwheel) with tomatoes roasted with crushed garlic (fresh or canned); chicken (shredded or cubed, which I cook in bulk and freeze in individual portions); and pre-washed baby spinach, which I quickly wilt in the microwave (kids like it more than grown-up spinach). Then I add a little lemon juice and olive oil, which makes everything taste better, and toss it all together. For sides, we’re partial to golden kiwi or frozen or fresh chopped mango.” ― Melissa Halas-Liang, registered dietitian and founder of SuperKids Nutrition


Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Chicken quesadillas

“One of my kids’ favorite items that my wife packs for them are spicy chicken quesadillas. She prepares them the night before school using organic tortillas, diced pre-cooked spicy chicken and a cheese blend. After cooking on a frying pan, we cut them into triangles and keep in the fridge overnight. They are easy to pack, hold and eat ― and the kids love them. They are often asked to trade with friends who want to eat them. It’s the most popular item we pack and super easy to make.” ― Hall


“I have two children who both have great palates, so I feel lucky that packing lunch is not too much of a challenge. Every day, I pack a mid-morning snack that usually consists of a Siggi’s yogurt tube or goat milk squeeze pouch, cucumbers, baby bell peppers and a portion with a side of hummus for my son. For my daughter, I pack a Siggi’s yogurt tube or goat milk squeeze pouch, cucumbers, berries, cherry tomatoes. On occasion I’ll swap the yogurt out for one hardboiled egg with seaweed.” ― Maya Feller, registered dietitian and owner of Maya Feller Nutrition

Dips for veggies

“We also pack mini peppers, cucumbers or baby carrots and hummus or guacamole to dip the veggies.” ― Mohr

“Sometimes I make Greek yogurt dip with veggies and whole grain crackers, chickpea salad and fruit.” ― Rosenbloom

“I keep pre-bought sliced jicama in stock and we make a lot of dips like this homemade ranch: 2 tablespoons of mayo, 2 tablespoons of nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese, half a teaspoon garlic powder and half a teaspoon dried parsley.” ― Halas-Liang


Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Nuts (when possible)

“Other popular items for our kids include foods with peanut butter or nuts.  Unfortunately, they are sometimes limited in taking these foods because of nut allergies of classmates ― but nuts tend to be high in healthy fats and proteins that are both healthy and tasty treats.”  ― Hall

Bean and cheese sushi wrap

“A fun lunch is a bean-and-cheese sushi wrap. Spread mashed black beans with a bit of lemon juice on a whole grain tortilla, sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese, and roll into a tight log. Cut slices just like sushi. Add in orange sunshine. Peel an orange and slice them into thick circles. Veggies would be edamame or sugar snap peas.” ― Halas-Liang

Bento boxes

“When my daughter was in preschool, she loved bento box meal assembly dishes, like smoked Gouda chunks with whole wheat woven crackers (with no added sugar), frozen peas or corn (which she ate frozen), berries or baked apple chunks. We microwaved the chopped apple, then chilled in the fridge. It keeps it from browning and it’s sweeter. We grow cucumbers well into late fall so we add those in too. It was always a hit!” ― Halas-Liang

Quality protein

“My background in nutrition has taught me that kids fare better in school ― both academically and physically ― when their lunch is nutritious and provides long-lasting energy. That’s why there is always a source of good-quality protein in their lunchbox (chickpeas, cheese, Greek yogurt, chicken, lentils, etc.) and some slow-burning, high-fiber whole grains, like quinoa, whole-grain pasta or oats.

My kids’ lunches are made with vegetables, fruit, whole grains and something high in protein. Some of their favorite combos are: cubes of chicken, grape tomatoes and cucumbers on a skewer, with whole grain crackers and fruit; a turkey or cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato on whole grain, and fruit; and quinoa and bean salad with string cheese, carrots, peppers and fruit.” ― Rosenbloom


Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Flavor, texture and variety

“When I’m building my kids’ meals I think about variety, temperature, texture, flavor and of course nutrition. Lunch is usually one of the following with a side of fruit and vegetable: bean and rice burrito, veggie dumplings (tofu and cabbage), soup with a side of fruit, spinach and cheese tortellini with a nut-free sauce (the school has a strong nut policy), homemade salmon salad with carrots and celery topped with tzatziki on a whole wheat English muffin, or a spinach and potato patty inside of a whole wheat English muffin.

Children are in a phase of growth and development and ideally their foods should support this. My goal for my children is to give them healthy options that they love, so they will eat and have the energy they need to focus and engage during school hours, play and continue to grow. I aim to send them with a tasty balanced meal that supplies vitamins and minerals from whole and minimally processed sources.” ― Feller


“Lunches for my children are nearly always leftovers from dinner the night before. I like to start with the vegetables first, such as sautéed broccoli, roasted Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower mash. We always supplement with additional vegetables, which are typically raw, such as avocado, cherry tomatoes, peppers (though never green ones) and celery. If we include animal protein in the lunch, it can be roasted chicken, hard-cooked eggs, lamb or beef ― basically whatever we may have had for dinner. If there is no animal protein available or if that’s not preferred, we add sunflower butter in an individual packets, raw almonds or walnuts, or hemp seeds. Juices, carbonated beverages, sweetened drinks and milk are never included. Always pure water.” ― Laura Lagano, a registered dietitian and owner of Laura Lagano Nutrition

“Family favorites include supper leftovers in a thermos (pasta, soup, stew) along with fruit (of kids’ choosing) and a couple of homemade cookies.” ― Katja Leccisi, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of How To Feed Your Kids: Four Steps To Raising Healthy Eaters


“People always ask about dessert. In an effort to encourage children to focus on vegetables first, I suggest not putting fruit in the lunch box until you’re certain that your youngster craves the vegetables. And, when you do include fruit, start by opting for the lower-sugar fruit such as organic strawberries and raspberries.” ― Lagano

“Sometimes I add a small treat, like some chocolate chips or my homemade no-bake granola bites.” ― Rosenbloom

“My kids always also get a dessert ― usually something homemade, like cookies, muffins or date squares.” ― Leccisi


Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Safe choices

“When I pack my children’s lunches, I always think food safety first and include adequate ice packs to keep cold foods cold.” ― Halas-Liang

“My expertise in nutrition shaped my choices by thinking about food safety, temperature controls and balanced nutrition to prevent childhood obesity and reducing refined products. I also teach my kids to recognize foods as ‘everyday’ versus ‘sometimes’ foods. Therefore they are aware of what foods make them healthy eaters, readers and leaders.” ― Tambra Raye Stevenson, founder and culinary nutritionist at NativSol Kitchen

Rule of three

“I avoid the three S’s: stinky (like fish); sticky (like maple syrup); and soft drinks (too much sugar).” ― Rosenbloom

“For a balanced lunch, I aim for three plant-based colors, plenty of fiber and a good source of protein. ― Halas-Liang

Meal prep

“It’s not just about what you pack, but when you pack it. Make packing lunch the night before part of the nighttime routine ― for us, it’s eat dinner, clean up kitchen and pack lunches. You’re not rushed and can make better decisions vs. adding one more thing to the already crazy mornings as everyone is trying to get out the door.” ― Mohr

“I think it’s easy to get stressed out about packing lunch. To avoid this, I usually pack after dinner or during the after-school snack if I’m home. That way the food is already out. Plus I keep a few sets of containers, some of which are dishwasher-safe. I also don’t make everything from scratch, but do a lot of meal assembly! It’s quicker and with so many healthy options, like beans from a can or pre-washed spinach, it’s easier. And I like to include a quote or little note when I have time.” ― Halas-Liang

Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.


This article was written by Caroline Bologna from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Ready! Set! Snow!

Snowfall can be very exciting, especially for children who are full of anticipation for winter fun and games.


The yard is covered in a white blanket just waiting for little footprints. Children love building snowmen, constructing snow forts and making snow angels.

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Some children believe that wearing their pajamas inside out or putting a spoon under their beds will increase snowfall and may increase the odds for a snow day.


There are many quirky superstitions to try. What has your family tried? Did it work? How do you celebrate a snow day?

Play in the Park

Parks are a great place to encourage outdoor play. Instead of sitting inside watching television or playing on a tablet, plan a day at the park with your little one. Bring lunch, water and snacks so you and your child can enjoy the outdoors all day.


A few activities to get you started for the day can include playing Frisbee, playing catch and jumping rope. Try to gather a group of children and their parents for a friendly game of whiffle ball. If your park has a walking trail, bring a notebook and ask your child to draw things that you see along the way. Take photos of unique animals, flowers or trees and research them at home for a nice cool-down activity.


What are some activities you and your children do at the park?

Summer Activities

Ten activities to do with your child this summer:

  1. Ride your bikes around your neighborhood or in a local park to increase family togetherness and to emphasize the importance of exercise.


  1. Have a picnic. Encourage your child to help pack the basket. You can talk to him about the different types of food you are putting in the basket, where the food is from and what foods are best for his health.


  1. Go on a leaf hunt. Your child can learn about different types of trees by their leaves, and she can observe how the trees grow. To create a lasting memory of your wonderful walk, you can collect a few leaves, place them on a sheet of paper and color them with a crayon. This will produce an imprint of the leaf to have for the future.

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  1. Volunteer in your community. Many communities have public gardens where children and parents come to plant their own flowers to contribute to the beauty of the community. If your community doesn’t have a garden, consider starting one. This will teach your child the importance of being involved and giving back.


  1. Plan a treasure hunt. For more enjoyment, include the whole neighborhood.


  1. Prepare new summer recipes. Encourage your child to use his skills to help with the ingredients and measurements. Soon, he’ll be cooking meals for you.


  1. Take some of your old clothes and place them in a chest. Now, you can have a dress-up day, which is a perfect inside activity for a rainy day. Your child will love dressing up just like mom!


  1. Create a craft table. Prepare a corner in your child’s playroom or bedroom with a table for craft activities, such as drawing, painting or building. This makes for another great indoor activity for rainy days.


  1. Stargaze. On a warm, clear night, sit outside with your child and observe the various Talk about what you can and cannot see with the human eye. Enjoy the starry night!


  1. Teach your child to conserve water during her daily activities. Since we enjoy pools, oceans and lakes during the summer months, this is a good time to teach your little one about the dangers of pollution and the effects it can have to our oceans and lakes.


Good Sportsmanship Is a Learned Skill

Being a part of a team, whether it is a sports team or a debate team, can cause the competitive side of children to surface. There is value in talking to your child about being a good sport both in winning and in losing. Emphasize the old saying, “there is no I in team.” Explain to your child that teams work together, win together and sometimes lose together.



Learning to display good sportsmanship both when winning and when losing is a valuable life lesson. Our natural reaction is to be excited about winning, which sometimes can result in bragging. The act of being happy without bragging to others is an important skill. Our natural reaction to losing is to be upset, and this may cause us to place the blame on a someone. The skill is remembering that it is okay to be upset without blaming yourself, your teammates or members of the opposing team. As parents, we see our children as MVPs (and of course they are), but we should support our children and teach them to be happy for the winning team and be humble when their team wins. A great strategy is to encourage your child to move forward and start preparing for future games.



When your children sign up to be on a team, remind them that winning is not the most important goal. It is more important for them to do their best and to work with the other team members to create a fun environment for all the children, their parents and the community.

Four Ways to Encourage Physical Activity

Physical activity and exercise are essential to your child’s development. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers four tips on how to twenty20_12c2b596-6dd8-40ba-b07e-cd5e2aef92fbencourage physical activity.

  1. Start with yourself. Set an example by being physically active, personally and with your child, and talking about how it helps you feel and think better.
  2. Encourage your child to pick activities that she finds fun, and then suggest activities that add something to it. For example, if your child enjoys running, ask her whether she’d like to kick a soccer or tennis ball while she runs. This can help children see how a supplemental activity adds to the fun as well as the ‘burn.’
  3. Whenever possible walk or ride (a bike or scooter, while wearing a helmet, of course) when you need to get somewhere nearby. Also, leave extra time to stop and smell the roses with your child. These simple times together end all too soon.
  4. Give children the space, tools and time to be physically active themselves and figure out what’s fun to master on their own. “I want to do it myself” is the battle cry of autonomy in these years and should be respected.

Five Benefits of Family Meal Time

While it can twenty20_57c6a417-0cc7-4440-8840-1ca2d86f5dc0be challenging to find the time to eat meals as a family, it is important to try to make time for this oft-ignored tradition. Here are five benefits of eating meals together as a family.

  1. It gives you quality time together. Due to everybody’s different schedule, it can be difficult to spend time together  as a family. A regular meal time gives families a chance to regroup, talk and enjoy each other’s company.
  2. It helps reinforce good manners. Having a meal as a family is an excellent opportunity to practice good manners. The more you eat together, the more opportunities your children have to practice good manners.
  3. It promotes healthy eating. When you have meals together at home, you can easily control what your children are served. twenty20_9e57ce90-74c3-44d0-9f76-12c914a5e392Thus, you can add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to the menu.  
  4. It helps expand children’s palates. Instead of serving rice, substitute quinoa. Or serve mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. If you’re serving chicken, add a side of tikka masala sauce for dipping. Having family meals together means more opportunities for trying and hopefully enjoying different foods.
  5. It helps save money. Many families will visit the local pizza shop or a fast food restaurant to save time, but the costs of doing so can add up quickly. It is much more cost effective to prepare and serve a meal at home than to go out to eat. Your family can put the money you save toward something else, such as a vacation or weekend outing.

Sufficient Hydration is Necessary for a Healthy Lifestyle

20120920_goddard_TN_0207Most of us are concerned that our children have good eating habits to ensure proper growth; however, not many of us put as much thought into the amount of water our little ones consume. What is the proper amount of water for children?

Water is not a one size fits all commodity. The amount of water children need depends on their age, weight and gender. Although there is not an exact number, we all could use a little more H2O to keep us on the go.

Here are some tips to increase your child’s water consumption.

  • The most efficient and effective way to boost your child’s water intake is to always have it available. Whether she is at home, at school or playing outdoors, make sure your child is always within reach of water.
  • Encourage your child to drink water by simply placing it in front of her without any alternative options. If she does not have soda or other sugary beverages around her, she will be more likely to drink the water without a fuss.
  • Increase your child’s consumption of fruits and vegetables that contain large volumes of water, such as strawberries, oranges, watermelon and cucumbers.
  • Be a good example; increase your water intake as well. This will not only keep you on track with how much water you consume, but watching you drink water will ensure that your child will want to drink it too.

Staying hydrated helps children focus better in school, brightens their mood and improves their performance in day to day activities.

Grab a glass of water for you and your little one, and start increasing your intake today.

Bike Readiness & Helmet Safety

During the summer months, it is important to verify bike readiness by running through this checklist to ensure your children’s safety.twenty20_fc896173-a5ae-4b99-8237-0ab82975d14a

  • Make sure their helmet still fits properly. If the helmet is too small or has previously been involved in a crash or has been damaged, replace it.
  • Clean off all the dust on the bike and check for loose parts, this includes the seat and handlebars.
  • Check and inflate the tires. Also, check for tire wear and dry rot.
  • Adjust the seat. Your children have grown since the last time they rode their bikes. When seated on the bike, your child should be able to stand on the balls of both feet.
  • Check the handlebars. They should be easy to grasp without leaning forward.
  • Make sure the brakes are working properly and there is no wear.
  • Buy the appropriate sized bike. Never buy a bike that your child will “grow into.”

Bike Helmet Safety

Many children do not like wearing helmets because they fear they are “uncool.” Because of this, it is important to have your children start wearing a helmet with their first tricycles or play vehicles to get them in the habit. Let your children know you expect them to wear a helmet every time they ride. Be a role model and wear a helmet when you ride your bike; your children are more likely to wear a helmet if they see you demonstrating good safety.

Allowing your children to choose their own helmet will increase the probability that they will want to wear it. Make sure when purchasing a new helmet that it is the correct size. Never buy a helmet that your child will “grow into.”

  • The helmet should sit level on your child’s head. It should be low on the forehead, about one or two finger widths above their eyebrows.
  • Adjust the straps so they meet in a “V” right under each ear.
  • Adjust the chinstrap snugly under the chin so that no more than one or two fingers fit under the strap. Keep the helmet tight enough so the helmet pulls down when you child opens his or her mouth.
  • Always make sure helmet straps are buckled when your child is riding.

Five Ways to Encourage Good Sportsmanship

Healthy competition can be a lot of fun. However being a good sport is the key to having the most fun. Here are five ways to encourage good sportsmanship.

  1. Root for both teams. The point of any game for children is to have fun, so if you see a child on the opposing G2 - Sportsteam hit a home run or make an amazing save, feel free to cheer for her. This may send a message to your child that enjoying the game is the point of it.
  2. Focus on the positives. If your child is disappointed that he did not win or was not on the winning team, remind him that he played well and he had fun with his friends.
  3. Respect the referee. Point out that the referee’s job is to ensure that everybody plays fairly and safely. Explain that generally the referee is a volunteer who is paid very little or nothing. Thank the referee for his service and encourage your child to do the same. If other parents or children berate the referee, explain that this behavior is not appropriate.
  4. Have a winning attitude. This means teaching your child to be positive whether she wins or loses. When she wins, she should win graciously with little fanfare. When she loses, she should shake the opponent’s hand and congratulate her for a game well played.
  5. Look to the future. Regardless of what happens, remind your child that there will always be a next time, another game, another season. Explain that he should just focus on having fun because that is what really counts.