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Posts Tagged ‘healthy’

13 Healthy Halloween Snacks That Won’t Scare Kids Away

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If you’re anything like us, then you know what it’s like to spend Halloween trying your hardest not to consume the entire candy stash before the first kid knocks on your door.

But if you can’t trust yourself sitting beside that Costco-size box of chocolate bars all night (who can?!), consider stocking up on these 13 healthier Halloween snacks. They offer kiddos more balanced options but also won’t make you feel like crap if you can’t stop at just one.

This list is 100-percent dietitian-approved: Some are allergen-friendly, vegan, or gluten-free; others are organic, non-GMO, and void of artificial colors or flavors. And a bunch of them pack a wide range of lower-sugar, antioxidant-rich ingredients. So whatever your Halloween vice, whether it’s sweet, salty, or something in-between, we’ve got a healthier Halloween treat for you. Oh, and the kids.

 

1. YumEarth Organic Pomegranate Licorice

A common source of food sensitivities, red food coloring isn’t usually a fan favorite among parents of candy-loving kids. Thankfully, these little licorice nibs are flavored with organic pomegranate and cherry juice and colored naturally with organic fruit concentrates, yielding a gluten-free, vegan, and nut-free treat.

($19 for 6 bags; amazon.com)

 

2. MadeGood Halloween Chocolate Granola Minis

Halloween can be a nightmare for a kid with severe food allergies, so we love these limited-edition chocolate chip granola minis from MadeGood. Free of the top eight allergens, organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO project verified, these bars are a breath of fresh air for concerned parents. They’re also a charitable choice this Halloween since 2 percent of all proceeds from the bars goes directly to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

($19 for 36 minis; amazon.com)

 

3. Veggie Go’s Organic Fruit and Veggie Strips

Packed with a half-cup of organic fruit and veggies per strip, plus fiber-rich flaxseeds and a touch of cinnamon, these no-sugar-added snacks are a smart way to get your sweet fix on October 31. They’re also gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, and have less than 20 calories per bar (not that we are counting, but that’s pretty good).

($23 for 20 strips; amazon.com)

 

4. Free2b Dark Chocolate Mint Cups

Ready to trade that classic (massive) Peppermint Patty for something a little lighter? We love these vegan dark chocolate mint cups because they’re free of the top 12 allergens (nuts, dairy, gluten, oh my!) and are made with fair-trade unsweetened dark chocolate so we can feel good about where they came from.

($32 for 24; amazon.com)

 

5. Annie’s Organic Orchard Cherry Apple Fruit Bites

With organic fruit pureé as the first ingredient and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, moms and dads won’t mind popping these fruity bites into kiddo’s lunch for a healthier post-Halloween snack.

($5 for 5 packs; walmart.com)

 

6. KIND Minis

With just 2 grams of added sugars per 100-calorie bar, along with 3 grams each of fiber and protein, you can feel good about these KIND minis making an appearance in your kids’ stash. Sweet, salty, chocolaty, and crunchy, they check all the boxes for a healthier Halloween treat.

($22 for 20 bars; amazon.com)

 

7. The Good Bean Sea Salt Crunchy Chickpeas

Need a savory option for the chip fans in your life? We got you. These single-serve bags of addictive crispy chickpeas pack 4 grams of protein and fiber into every 90-calorie pack, making them an awesome choice for your kids (and you, of course).

($30 for 50 packs; amazon.com)

 

8. Unreal Dark Chocolate Crispy Quinoa Gems

Getting your chocolate fix doesn’t have to mean tossing junk food into your grocery cart just before checkout. These tasty chocolate rounds are made with organic, non-GMO, fair-trade dark chocolate and are vegan and gluten-free. They’re also colored naturally with fruit and veggie extract instead of the standard food dyes and offer a delicate crunch from protein-rich quinoa.

($26 for 6 bags; shop.getunreal.com)

 

9. Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Neighborhood mamas and dads are going to be pumped when they find these in their kids’ candy bag. The better-for-you cups are made with organic dark chocolate and organic peanuts and offer 4 grams of protein per two-cup package. Sorry, kids, we might have to confiscate your bag for these.

($25 for 12 packs; amazon.com)

 

12. Skinny Dipped Almonds

Finally, a Halloween option that could make its way into the holiday season too (seriously, these are great stocking stuffers). The dark chocolate-dipped almonds have just 60 calories per pack and only 2 grams of sugar. The almonds are coated in an antioxidant-rich dark chocolate for a healthy treat that will give Almond Joys a run for their money.

($35 for 24 packs; skinnydipped.com)

 

13. Fruits in Chocolate Dark Chocolate Covered Coconut

Each individually wrapped truffle features a whole dried fruit coated in rich dark chocolate with just 50 to 70 calories per piece. They’re available as a mixed box with prunes, cranberries, and apricots, so you can give ’em to the kids who could use a more natural chocolate fix this fall (so, all of them).

($23 for 46 pieces; fruitsinchocolate.com)

Every editorial product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through one of our links, we may earn a commission. But don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra, and we wouldn’t recommend a product if we didn’t love it as much as we love puppies.

 

This article was written by Abbey Sharp from Greatist and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

6 Healthy Foods You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen

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We all know how to eat healthy — fruits, vegetables, protein — but actually doing it can feel overwhelming. To simplify things, it’s best to keep your kitchen stocked with a few essentials that you can reach for again and again.

While this isn’t a complete list of every healthy food on the planet, it’s a starter list of foods that can help you make simple changes to your meals and add more nutrients. Plus, they won’t require a trip to some top-secret specialty grocery store.

My advice? Take it one ingredient at a time and one meal at a time. So what if you crushed a bowl of cinnamon toast cereal for breakfast? Make a hearty salad for lunch and plan on scrambled eggs with a smoothie on the side for tomorrow’s breakfast.

1. Chickpeas

There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests ditching meat and eating more plant-based foods is critical for warding off disease. The critics then say, “No meat? How do I get my protein?” One answer: Chickpeas! They’re high in protein, packing 39 grams into each cup.

Try making: Skillet Chickpeas and Broccoli

2. Eggs

Eggs are packed with protein, vitamin D and vitamin B12, and one study in the journal Nutrition and Food Science actually found that yolks contain antioxidants, which are good for you as you age. But not all eggs are created equal. What hens eat affects the quality of eggs. For example, Eggland’s Best eggs have twice as much vitamin B12 and omega-3s, six times the amount of vitamin D and 25 percent less saturated fat than ordinary eggs, thanks to the all-vegetarian feed it gives its hens.

Try making: Smashed Eggs on Toast with Spring Herbs

3. Greens

Here’s something you’ve probably heard a million times: Eat more salad. True, salad is good — as long as it’s not doused in creamy, sugary dressing or made only with iceberg lettuce. And it’s not that iceberg lettuce is bad for you; it’s just that, well, there’s nothing to it. Instead, keep cabbage or other green-leaf lettuces on hand to chop up and add into premixed bags of salad where iceberg reigns supreme. Cabbage also makes a great, healthy garnish for tacos. And I’m just gonna say it: Kale chips are not the worst.

4. Lemons

Just one lemon has 50 percent of your daily intake of vitamin C. That said, you’re probably not exactly eager to bite into a lemon. Instead, squeeze the juice into hot water or green tea and incorporate the zest into your dinners. (It has flavor perks, too.)

5. Greek yogurt

Love guac and other creamy sauces and dressings? You can almost always sub in greek yogurt and ditch the mayo and sour cream without tasting a difference. Plus, if you’re on the plant-based train, it’s another good source of protein. Good source of protein? Check. Good for your gut? Check. Deserving of a place in your fridge? Definitely.

6. Bananas

Bananas don’t need an introduction for their health benefits, but did you know that low potassium (a star nutrient in the banana) and depression are closely linked? A 2008 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found a high-potassium diet can mitigate depression. So, in addition to being a sweet addition to smoothies and having a role as a tasty breakfast side, bananas can help keep your mood stable. Win.

This post is sponsored by Eggland’s Best.

 

This article was written by Catherine Conelly from SheKnows and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

7 Things Healthy People Do Every Morning

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Fads like barefoot running and IV drip bars may be fun to read about — and there’s no shame in giving them a whirl — but jumping on these bandwagons won’t necessarily lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Really, simplicity and repetition still reign, which is why it’s good to build healthy habits into your day. Here are a few easy ones to try each morning if you want to start your day on a healthier note.

1. Drink hot water (with or without the lemon)

Instead of going straight for the caffeine, start with a hot cup of water. It may not taste like much, but doing so can improve blood flow, aid in digestion (perfect after a Sunday brunch) and even cleanse the body of toxins. Plus, it helps you meet your water quota. Speaking of which, make sure you have a water quota.

2. Balance your breakfast

Try to get an equal amount of protein, fiber and produce at breakfast. Of course, eggs are a go-to protein. And if you’re not one to make breakfast every morning, hard-boil a batch to eat throughout the week. Just make sure you buy high-quality eggs from vegetarian-fed hens, such as Eggland’s Best. Its eggs have twice as much vitamin B12 and omega-3s, six times the amount of vitamin D and 25 percent less saturated fat than ordinary eggs. Try them in a huevos rancheros-inspired chopped salad for breakfast and be on your way for the day.

3. Meditate

Don’t diss meditation until you try it, and don’t feel like you have to be floating on a cloud, om-ing or burning incense while you do it. All meditation requires is to sit still in a comfortable position and tune into your body. You can try these five-minute techniques or download an app that guides you (try Simply Being).

4. Move

You can rise early for an intense HIIT class, or you can simply take a walk down your block. The point is to get moving. In one study published by the American Medical Association, simply increasing walking pace reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in study participants. Furthermore, a 2008 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise concluded that if more people walked more often, it could help reduce the prevalence of chronic disease.

5. Slip yourself a superfood

Here’s the super-unofficial definition of a superfood: a food that’s more nutrient-rich than other nutrient-rich foods. We’ve got a handy superfood list you can take to the grocery store, but for breakfast, think blueberries, strawberries, almonds, apples and avocados — for extra nutrients, try these baked eggs and avocados.

Your mission: No matter what you eat for breakfast, pick one superfood side. Just think about how that adds up over time.

6. Slow down

Instead of rolling out of bed, getting ready and jamming out the door to make it to work, take a beat. Allowing yourself time in the morning to just be can help you handle the stress that may come with the rest of your day. Enjoy your hot beverage of choice, read a book or stretch as you reflect on yesterday. This is that “me time” you’ve been craving. Sure, sometimes kids, unexpected situations and life in general can get in the way, but does that mean you shouldn’t try?

7. Set intentions in the shower

If you think about it, that time spent in the shower could really be maximized. While you shampoo, set some intentions for your day. They don’t have to be about exercising or eating healthy at all. It can be as simple as this: What do you want to accomplish today? What will make you feel fulfilled at the end of the day? Reflect on how you’re feeling. Self-care reduces stress, and less stress makes you healthier.

So, while it’s pretty hard to drill “healthy” down to one definition (it’s not exactly a one-size-fits-all situation), it’s also hard to deny that committing to a handful of simple habits can make a difference. They’re tried and true and completely good for you.

This post is sponsored by Eggland’s Best.

 

This article was written by Catherine Conelly from SheKnows and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 Quick Things to Make for Dinner When You’re Way Too Tired

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After a long day, sometimes the last thing we want to do is cook. When you gotta eat but don’t want to resort to takeout, you need quick things to make for dinner at your fingertips. Whether you love to throw down in the kitchen or can’t tell a parsnip from a rutabaga, these quick recipes will help you get dinner on the table in a flash.

1. Get the family to eat their veggies with spaghetti and kale

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Sneak veggies into a pasta dish. | iStock.com/VeselovaElena

Do your kids hate kale? They won’t when they meet it in this rich, garlicky pasta dish. Spaghetti Aglio e Olio adds a hearty helping of kale to pasta with garlic and olive oil, sprinkled with Parmesan for that umami hit. Don’t worry — the metric ton of kale will all cook down as it goes. As easy dinner ideas go, this one is simple and healthy.

2. These chicken tacos come with a shortcut

 

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Use a rotisserie chicken. | iStock.com/amberleeknight

If you need to get dinner on the table pronto, forget about takeout. These easy chicken tacos will satisfy your cravings without the sodium bomb that comes in many fast food Mexican meals. Pick up a rotisserie chicken on the way home to make it even simpler, or grill up some chicken thighs. They’ll be done by the time you finish assembling the other ingredients.

3. Salmon and fennel salad is fresh and simple

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Fish cooks quickly. | iStock/Getty Images

Think fish is too fancy for a Tuesday? Think again! Salmon roasts to perfection in under 15 minutes, making this one a regular in our quick things to make for dinner rotation. You can even spend that time tossing together this quick and healthy cucumber and fennel salad. Add a side of rye bread for a Nordic-inspired nosh. Want to make it even quicker? Make the salad the night before and let the flavors meld, then you can take a breather while the salmon finishes.

4. Indulge your inner child with baked chicken strips

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It’s easier than you think. | fotyma/iStock/Getty Images

Once you try breading and baking your own chicken fingers, you will never go back to the frozen variety. Seasoning the panko breadcrumbs with lemon zest and herbs give them a nice zing, and mustard sauce on side makes for delicious dipping. Feel free to tone down the spice to make them more kid-friendly, or play with the profile to fit your preferences. Make a big batch: This easy dinner idea will keep for awhile in the refrigerator.

5. 1-pot cheesy tortellini saves time at the sink

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Don’t spend all night washing dishes. | iStock.com/EzumeImages

The best weeknight dinners save time on both ends of the meal — prep time and cleaning up. This easy, cheesy tortellini dish will satisfy your comfort food cravings, all in one pot. The savory ham and velvety cheese pumps up the pasta better than plain sauce, while sneaking some healthy veggies into your diet. It’s a win-win all around.

6. Hamburger casserole will satisfy your cheese cravings

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It’s a comfort dish. | iStock.com/bhofack2

If your family loves boxed casserole starters like Hamburger Helper, do we have a recipe for you. This gooey hamburger casserole tastes even better than the box, without all of those hard-to-pronounce additives. Since it also uses canned tomato soup and cream of mushroom soup as the base, you may already have the ingredients on hand. A delicious dinner without a trip to the store? We’re all in.

7. Make your own black bean burrito bowls in no time

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Think outside the tortilla. | iStock.com/rainingphotos

Think outside the wrap with these speedy black bean burrito bowls. Quick-cooking or frozen rice makes them even faster. You can substitute your family’s favorite burrito protein for the black beans, or add in any toppings you prefer. In the time it takes to say “order up,” you can get chowing down. Stash this one in your quick things to make for dinner file — the variations are endless.

8. Shake up some fun with these baked pork chops

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Just shake and bake. | iStock.com/valeniker

Get your little ones in on the act with these baked pork chops. Just measure all of the topping ingredients into a large plastic bag, toss in the chops, and shake it like a Polaroid picture. While they spend half an hour baking, toss together a simple side for a well-rounded meal that looks a lot harder than it is.

9. Homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese is Mmm-Mmm good

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The simple soup comes together quickly. | iStock.com/tvirbickis

If the words “homemade soup” make you think of slaving over a long simmer stove, this recipe will change your mind. This simple tomato soup recipe comes together in just over half an hour and it’s easy enough to let the kids help. Whip up a batch of grilled cheese sandwiches for dipping and you have a warming classic meal on your hands. Pro tip: Grill the sandwiches with mayonnaise instead of butter for the crunchiest, crispiest exterior.

10. Steak dinner in a sitcom worth of time? You betcha

 

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It’s quick, easy, and satisfying. | iStock.com/Lisovskaya

Yes, you can make this steak and veggies skillet in the amount of time it takes your family to finish an episode of their favorite show. By the time they come asking about chow, you can slide this easy weeknight dinner onto the table. Peas and asparagus brighten up the rich protein, and mustard sauce gives it all a great zing. For sensitive palates, go ahead and omit the cayenne.

 

 

This article was written by Lizz Schumer from The Cheat Sheet and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

These Simple Tips Can Trick You Into Eating Healthier

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“There’s no shame in buying pre-packed, pre-cut veggies ― riced cauliflower, cut-up broccoli florets, pre-made zucchini noodles, pre-chopped and pre-washed kale,” said Andrea Moss, holistic nutrition coach and founder of Moss Wellness. “Same with frozen veggies. Anything that gets you to eat veggies and makes it easier for you to do so is a win.”

If your schedule doesn’t leave a lot of extra time to prepare those foods, many stores offer fruits and vegetables that are ideal for on-the-go folks. 

Bonus points if you can complete this task on a Sunday and get your food ready for the week. Another food prep hack from Moore: If you prep soup for the week, store in the freezer in a clear bag, making sure it’s flat so it’ll save you space for more goodies. 

“If you have a whole pineapple, you’re less likely to eat it than if you go ahead and cut it up into smaller pieces,” she said.

Marisa Moore, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Atlanta, encourages her clients to wash the fruits and veggies they buy when they get home from grocery shopping and then chop them up into bite-sized pieces.

Do the dirty work first

Making this tip effective at home and keeping those better options to the front means you’re more likely to grab healthy food to munch on for a snack or add that food to a meal you’re already cooking. Plus, since you can have your eye on it, the food is less likely to go bad and you won’t be deterred from buying fruits and vegetables in the future (this is a common annoyance for people trying to eat healthy, according to several of our experts). It’s a win-win. 

“We focus on making it as easy as possible to make great choices by making the most nutritious foods highly visible, while indulgent options are just a little harder to find,” he said. “Because we know hydration is important, water is the first thing you see in our refrigerators. Seasonal fruits are placed in bowls on open counters while packaged snacks and sweets are relegated to drawers or opaque jars.”

To encourage their employees to eat healthy, Google uses a similar strategy. Scott Giambastiani, the company’s global food program chef and operations manager, told HuffPost that the offices offer less healthy options, but they’re tucked away in favor of healthier foods.

″Put healthy food where you can see it [in the fridge] and keep foods you want to cut back on in the fridge drawers,” said Katie Serbinski, the registered dietitian behind Mom to Mom Nutrition. “You can even go a step further and store healthy foods in clear containers or bags, so you can easily see and grab them without having to rinse or wash, assuming that step has been done ahead of time.”

Having healthy snacks ― fruits, vegetables, grains ― visible and within reach can change your snacking habits, according to the food and health experts we interviewed. 

Fruits (and other healthy items) to the front

We chatted with dietitians and nutritionists about simple ways you can arrange your fridge, prepare your food and store your snacks to promote a healthier lifestyle. Here are their tips. 

Looking to eat healthier? With a few subtle changes in your kitchen, you might just be able to trick yourself into making it happen. 

Trinette Reed via Getty Images

We talked to experts about simple ways you can prep, store and arrange your food to get the most out of a healthier lifestyle.

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Preparing food (washing, cutting, etc.) as soon as you get home from the grocery store can encourage you to munch on healthier snacks and put together more well-balanced meals. Also, keep the healthier food in clear containers so you always know what you have in stock.

Dorling Kindersley: Dave King via Getty Images

Divide the fridge into sections (and CLEAN IT.)

Many people keep fruits and vegetables in the crisper drawer of their fridge and fill their pantries with boxed and canned goods, but how many of us really go beyond that? 

Molly Lee, holistic health coach and founder and director of Energizing Nutrition, said that further organizing your fridge and the rest of your kitchen can make it easier when you’re cooking.

“Have different sections for different categories of food,” she said. “It prevents cross contamination, but it also is organized so you can make a well-balanced meal.”

If you have kids who can pack their own lunch or grab their own after-school snack, consider having a drawer in the fridge and/or a section of the pantry just for them, suggests Serbinski. You’re establishing both independence and good eating habits. 

Also don’t forget ― seriously, don’t forget ― to clean your fridge.

“A tidy fridge is an inviting fridge! Throw out those leftovers weekly,” Moss said.

Consider revamping your dishes (and don’t forget about mason jars)

Lee told HuffPost that “organization is the key” when it comes to a kitchen that will help you eat healthier, but having an appealing kitchen can also help. 

“If you have chipped plates or you don’t have the right equipment, it’s not going to be pleasurable to make food,” she said. “A beautiful bowl, plate and mug that you love can really go a long way for making sort of a ritual.”

Don’t sleep on mason jars, either.

“You just stack your favorite ingredients,” Lee said. “You can stack greens, nuts and seeds, chickpeas, tuna or leftover chicken or feta cheese, and it’s easy. Plus, it looks beautiful and you won’t forget about it because it’s clear.”

For those with a sweet tooth, Lee suggested adding organic Greek or plain yogurt to fresh berries and low-sugar granola (make sure it’s naturally sweet, not made with a ton of added sugar).  

Don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to indulgences

Whether you’ve got a sweet tooth or are always craving something salty, ridding yourself of all your cravings doesn’t always work. For a more realistic balance, Moore suggests having only “one indulgent thing” in your living space at a time and leaving the rest at the store (that midnight snack craving won’t be as difficult to overcome if you’ve only got one option).

Lee sticks to encouraging her clients to eat “the highest quality of your favorite dessert.” Think organic dark chocolate or raw honey, perhaps mixed with another healthy snack.

“It’s more expensive so you really savor it, and it tastes really good because it’s using really good ingredients,” she said. 

However you deal with those cravings, a good rule is to somewhat fool yourself and tuck them away somewhere.

“Maybe you have chips or you have cookies in the back of the bottom shelf,” Moore said.

Out of sight, out of mind, and hopefully out of your healthier lifestyle.

 

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

How I Finally Got My Kids to Eat Their Veggies—and Like It

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I used to stand in front of the blender so they couldn’t see. Sautéed zucchini, red and yellow peppers, spinach—I’d throw it all in there quickly with the tomato sauce and breathe a sigh of relief when the crunching would stop and the swirling would begin. Meanwhile, my boys (4 and 6 at the time) would play with their Legos on the kitchen table none the wiser. Sure, I could openly put some veggies on the table (exactly two: broccoli and carrots), but that never felt like enough.

Then one day, a letter came home from my son’s kindergarten PE teacher announcing a nutrition challenge she called Strive for Five. Based on the National Cancer Institute’s recommendation to eat five servings of fruits or vegetables each day, all kindergarten classes would compete to eat at least three servings (but aim for five) of fruits or vegetables a day to celebrate National Nutrition Month in March. All the parents got a handy calendar so we could keep track. The reward? The kindergarten class with the most servings got to choose an activity for PE.

That night, as my husband and I were munching on potato chips on the couch, I remembered that the letter said that the challenge might help parents eat better, too. That promise that we’d start eating a Mediterranean diet this year hadn’t really been working out.

“What do you think if we all did the challenge?” I said.

After my husband finished his delicate, crispy, so-salty-it-sings potato chip, he wiped his hands and said he was all for it. He reminded me that March is the beginning of Greek lent, when he cuts out meat and dairy for 40 days. If I wanted, I could join him, too. Over breakfast the next day, we told the kids that we’re all going to get in on the competition.

“Even me?” said the four-year-old.

“Yes, even you,” I said.

“But what do we get?” my kindergartner asked. I told the boys that, just like the school reward, we could do an activity of their choice for a day. The outing could be anything they wanted, within reason, like going to the aquarium or the science museum or the arcade (read: family time).

The boys grabbed some magic markers and decorated their calendars with pictures and added their names. I posted them on the fridge at eye level so they could easily mark them up every day. They boys were so excited, they wanted to start that day, but I told them they’d have to wait until March 1.

While the idea seemed perfect for our family, because we’re naturally a little competitive (my husband even told the boys, “I’m going to destroy you!”), I honestly didn’t think my kids would follow through. Take our attempt at chore lists. They got tired of being asked to do a chore and mark up their magnetic chart, and I got tired of asking them. My boys were certainly acting excited about the fruit and veggie challenge, but I thought maybe at the end they’d forgo the veggies and focus only on fruit (they eat fruit like I eat chips). Or they’d give up altogether.

But amazingly, they totally owned it.

“Does this count as a serving?” the boys would ask me, nearly every day. Five broccoli florets, check. Four raw carrots, check. Spinach with garlic, check! Two spoonfuls of sautéed mushrooms, absolutely check! Toward the end, my kindergartner even discovered the joy of salad sprinkled generously with vinegar. The boys totally motivated us, too; my husband and I were finally eating like we were in the Mediterranean. Every time the boys marked up their chart, they grinned, as if they were getting away with something. Little did they know I thought I was getting away with something, too.

It may have worked because they could take care of their own chart. Or maybe they had the arcade in mind, but I also think they had a chance to outshine their parents every day. When do kids get to do that? When my kindergartner was tallying up his servings for the day, he’d also count up everyone else’s. “Ha! I have… 7 and Daddy has only 5!” Every week or so, he’d add up everyone’s total servings for the month so far, just to see who was pulling ahead (math skills!).

My little one, I must admit, fell off the wagon toward the end. In the last week, he started saying “I don’t care if I win,” with chocolate on his cheek. But my kindergartner cared very much, and during the month he started reading nutrition labels on almost everything we ate (“Mom, this orange juice is good for you. It has no sodium!” he even said to me).

On the last day, my kindergartner and my husband were neck and neck. “You’re totally going down!” my husband said to him at breakfast. After our boy left the room, I whispered to my husband that maybe we could let him win, just this once. “He’s come so far, and he totally deserves it,” I said. He just smiled at me.

At the arcade, our boys shot up dinosaurs as my husband and I sipped on our coffee, thinking we were totally owning this parenting thing. My kindergartner’s class won the competition at school, too. Mostly, my kids’ good eating habits stuck around after March. They do eat more veggies than they did before the challenge, but I’m not above mashing sweet potato into pancake batter.

 

This article was written by Cheryl Pappas from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

DIY Banana Chips

Many store-bought banana chips are loaded with added sugar and fat. Follow these simple instructions to make healthy banana chips at home.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • Lemon juice (optional)

Slice the banana (or bananas, depending on how many chips you want) into 1/8-inch-thick rounds, and lay them on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees F for two to three hours or until golden. Then let the chips harden at room temperature. Enjoy them as is or serve with nut butter. For an extra kick of sweetness, brush lemon juice on the banana slices before baking.

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

 

Nutritious and Fun Breakfast: Banana in a Blanket

Perfect for breakfast or shared as a snack, this delicious, hearty little recipe is sure to please!

Ingredients

  • 1 six-inch whole wheat tortilla
  • 1 tablespoon nut or seed butter or cream cheese
  • 1 banana
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon granola

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Lay the tortilla on a plate and spread the entire surface evenly with the nut or seed butter or cream cheese.

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Peel the banana and place on one edge of the tortilla.

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Sprinkle with granola.

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Drizzle maple syrup or honey on top.

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Roll the tortilla to wrap the banana in the “blanket.”

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Slice in half, serve and enjoy!

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Bento Box Mania!

What is a bento box?

Bento box lunches have been increasing in popularity among families with preschoolers and school-age children. Google the term “bento box lunch” and you will find a wealth of resources, including blogs, Pinterest pages and online retailers selling basic and whimsical options. If a parent is artistic, the child’s lunch can become a work of art.

Why does it work well for school lunches?

Bento boxes work well for school lunches and snacks because they protect food in a sealed container and keep food groups separate. If you have a picky eater who does not like foods touching, a bento box may keep your child happy. Parents can have fun creating different lunchtime masterpieces. Bento boxes are also economical because they are reusable and help keep plastic snack and sandwich bags out of landfills.

What are the nutritional benefits of bento boxes?

Bento boxes are appealing because they provide a creative way to add a variety of foods to a child’s lunch while keeping wet foods separate from dry foods. By introducing different, healthy foods early in your child’s life, he or she may develop a preference for those foods as well as a more diverse palate. You can also turn the preparation of the bento box into a learning activity by asking your child what each food is, where it comes from, how it’s made and so on. Engaging your child in the experience may help to build and reinforce a child’s love of diverse, nutritious foods while fostering a love of learning.

What can I put in my child’s bento box?

The options are endless, but here are some ideas:

  • Sliced hard-boiled eggs;
  • A mini-bagel sandwich with almond butter, jelly or another spread;
  • Sliced strawberries, blueberries and kiwis;
  • Cheese cubes;
  • Pretzels;
  • Sliced grapes;
  • A muffin;
  • Mini-pita sandwiches filled with cheese and pepperoni;
  • Sliced pineapple;
  • Celery and carrot sticks;
  • Cucumber slices;
  • A turkey and cheese sandwich on a Hawaiian roll;
  • Veggie chips;
  • Rice molds;
  • Chickpeas and black beans;
  • Raisins and chocolate chips;
  • Sandwich rounds with ham, cheese and avocado.

Enjoy making bento box lunches!

Apple Snacks!

Apples are child-friendly, healthy snacks (they are fat, sodium and cholesterol free!). They are a great addition to school lunches and can also be used in a variety of recipes! Spruce up snack time with these easy and delicious apple snack ideas. Click here to watch the video!

Lil’ Dippers

Ingredients

  • Apple
  • Nut or seed butter
  • Crushed peanuts or sliced almonds

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Cut the apple into wedges. Dip each piece in the nut or seed butter.

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Then dip the apple wedge in the crushed peanuts or sliced almonds.

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Enjoy!

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Crunchy Hazelnut Wedges

Ingredients

  • Apple
  • Hazelnut spread
  • Low-fat granola

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Cut the apple into wedges. Smear each piece with hazelnut spread.

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Then sprinkle apple wedge with granola. Substitute peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter) for hazelnut spread if you’d like. Also, feel free to add raisins!

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Enjoy!

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