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Healthy Summer Foods

I love to eat fruits I love all kinds of fruit some of my favorite fruits are Sunkist oranges, Mangos, Watermelon, peaches, and Melon. Fruit is such an amazing food because there are so many delicious kinds, it’s healthy, and it gives you energy. Vegetables are also another very healthy food source but I can’t say they are the best tasting things around but they are highly beneficial. Also, there are ways you can prepare and cook vegetables to make them taste good, some vegetables are actually delicious. Some of my favorite vegetables include broccoli, lettuce, Asparagus, carrots, and celery. Now that its summer there are many healthy summer foods for your diet.

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One of the benefits of it being summer is that a lot of the fruit is in season and there are a lot of choices, I always liked to go into the grocery store and try fruits that I have never tried before. There is also a delicious vegetable known has corn that is best in the summer, nothing says summer like sweet corn. Corn is a delicious vegetable that is commonly grilled or baked and when my family and I go to the beaches in Delaware we make sure to have some corn because the corn is delicious over there. Corn also has two antioxidants (lutein and zeaxanthin) that act has sunglasses that form pigment to filter out some of the sun’s harmful rays.

Believe it or not tomatoes also protect you from the sun as well because lycopene which is Capturewhat makes the tomatoes red is also known to protect you from sun burn it’s also known to prevent chronic disease. Watermelon also as lycopene which will prevent sunburn but it is also good for staying hydrated because it is 92% water. I think watermelon is a good thing to have before a game half, at time break, and after a game because it gives you energy and replenished your lost nutrients, especially now that it’s getting hot and it’s good to stay hydrated. If you like tea then there aren’t too many things better than drinking a refreshing class of iced tea on a hot day, but tea is also good for your body. Drinking tea regularly is known to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes. It’s also good for your mouth, teeth, and gums, because tea is rich in antioxidants. It’s always good to drink freshly brewed tea teas that are rich in antioxidants include black, green, oolong, white or herbal.

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Beach Vibes!

 

Tons of people head to the beach through out there summer vacations because who doesn’t love the beach? Whether you like to walk on the board walk, sit on the beach, or swim in the ocean the beach is a great place for everybody. During the summer I usually go to Bethany Beach in Delaware with my family I’ve also gone to Ocean City, New Jersey this summer they are both really fun places to go to. The beach may be a very fun place to go to but it’s also a good place to exercise at a lot of people get a good workout at the beach without even intending on it! When I was at the beach I noticed that I was doing tons of walking from place to place because when you’re at the beach you don’t want to spend time in the car. Walking is so simple but it’s a good exercise especially if you’re doing a lot of it. When I was at the beach we would walk everywhere that we could because we had been in the car for hours so we wanted to avoid the car as much as we could. At most beaches there are tons of places that rent out bikes, and that’s because biking around the boardwalk or just around the town is a popular thing. We did not rent bikes when we were there but we really wanted to because it’s a good work out and it does not take as long as walking. If you spend a lot of time on the beach than you are probably doing a lot of exercise as well because there is a lot of things to do on the beach like playing sports like volleyball, soccer, and football another thing that kids do at the beach that is a great workout is shoveling you know how you’ve always wanted to “dig a hole to china” in the sand well I’ve dug holes in the sand and it’s quite the workout. Finally, the ocean is a great place to exercise in because you’re not only swimming but you’re going against the waves and the currents add all those together and you get a pretty decent workout this is my favorite thing to do at the beach.

 

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Powerade VS. Gatorade

Powerade VS. Gatorade

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Water is one of the best things for you and we need it to survive because it keeps you hydrated. There are also other drinks that help you hydrate by giving you electrolytes and nutrients lost in sweat like Gatorade and Powerade. The question is which one is better for you I drink both when I’m playing soccer in my games, at practice, or at a camp. The best thing about both of them is that they are beneficial and they both taste good there are also many flavors to try, time to find out which one is better.

People may think that Gatorade is better because it has more flavors that are delicious from cucumber lime to fierce melon. but is that the only reason why it’s good? Gatorade started in 1965 at the University of Florida (home of the gators). Gatorade is used to fight dehydration and is a mix of water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes all of those together are very effective with handling dehydration. Your body starts to cramp when you do not have enough potassium but drinks like Gatorade and orange juice have potassium which will help you avoid those extremely painful cramps. Gatorade also has different types of drinks for different situations some of them are for before you play, while you play, and after you play there are also energy chews. Gatorade also gives you the opportunity to have it where ever you have water because they sell Gatorade powder in which you can make your own Gatorade just by mixing it with water.

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Gatorade is not the only sports drink out there that tastes good and is good for you Powerade is Gatorade’s prime competition. People may prefer Powerade because it has Vitamins in it (B-3, B-6, and B-12) and it tastes good. Aside from giving you carbs, electrolytes and water Powerade also provides you with vitamins like B-3, B-6, and B-12. Based off of a 2,000calorie diet per day Powerade provides ten percent of your daily value of vitamins. Vitamin B-3 is associated converting food into energy and digestion, Vitamin B-6 is associated with the production of red blood cells, which adds oxygen to the blood stream, and Vitamin B-12 maintains the blood cell count. Also Powerade also offers a zero calorie version which is good for people who do not want such sugary drinks. I think Powerade is great because it contains these vitamins and I also think that is why it is so popular among athletes.

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So now it is time to decide which one overall is better for you Gatorade or Powerade. Gatorade’s best features are all the different flavors they have, and all the different forms they have. Powerade’s best features are they have vitamins and minerals (B-3, B-6, and B-12), and it has a zero calorie form. Because Gatorade and Powerade are so similar the best way to see which one is better for you is to do it based off of nutritional facts. For carbs,Gatorade uses sucrose, and dextrose which are two simple sugars and Powerade uses high fructose corn syrup which is associated with certain health issues. For electrolytes Gatorade has more potassium and sodium which is necessary for athletes but Powerade also features vitamins. Powerade and Gatorade are both great sports drinks but if you are doing marathon level distances or high level intensity activities than Gatorade is the better choice, Gatorade also has a lot more flavors than Powerade.

Wrap-up of my summer fun!

It’s finally summer for Fairfax County after our extended school year due to snow, there are so many things for people to do during the three months we have off. A lot of people go on vacation or go to the pool, but a lot of people aren’t very active during the summer which is not good. In this blog I will introduce a lot of good ways to stay healthy in the summer. My summer will consist of a lot of soccer because I want to practice a lot so I can be prepared for High school soccer, also swimming, and biking, and running

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I will be practicing/playing a lot of soccer this summer because I want to be as prepared as I can be for High school soccer. Soccer is a good activity to do to stay healthy, because it involves running and using a lot of your body’s muscle. In soccer you run a lot because that is just the way the game is, and in doing so it increases your muscular endurance. Also, it builds muscle into your legs too, but you don’t only use your legs muscle you use your shoulders, back, arms, and your abdominals. If you are outside playing soccer in this heat of the summer it will really get you fit, but it is important to drink a lot of water or you will start to get cramps in your legs. Soccer is a great thing to do in the summer whether it Is for a camp or with your friends or even by yourself. This is the perfect time to be playing soccer because this year the World Cup is on hopefully it will inspire many people to play!

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Running, biking, and swimming are great things to do to be active. Especially now that it is summer you can go to the pool with your friends for hours! My friends and I love to ride our bikes all over the place sometimes we bike for hours to all sorts of places. You can bike on trails, through parks, or what I like to do just go on an adventure and see what you can find. Running can be a little intense in the summer heat but it will put you into shape, and since I’m going to be doing cross country in the fall it is important that I get some running in this summer.

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There are also lots of camps that kids can go to have a lot of fun and to exercise. I’ve gone to a lot of sports camps that do a lot of different sports all in one camp those are the ones I like. I like those camps because you get to try different sports and you’re exercising. There are camps at Nzone, Dulles Sports Plex, Cub run and there are also camps like Rec Pac and Summer SACC where you do a lot of other things in addition to playing sports. Summer is a great time to have a lot of fun and get fit at the same time.

 

 

Soccer PRO’s practice during the Summer!

The summer time is a perfect time for me to practice as much as I can before high school starts. If I want to play on the Oakton varsity soccer team as a freshmen than I have to be a really good player which means I have to practice a lot. So, it’s very important that I make the most of the summer time and practice as much as I can with all my free time. I have plans on how I’m going to use my summer to prepare for high school soccer like running, and practicing at home, playing with my friends, and going to camps.

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When the summer first started I took a little break from soccer so I could get a little rest and relax for a little bit since school just got out. But, then a started riding my bike to soccer fields to play with my friends which is always fun. When we were there we would play little games, world cup, or practice shooting. It was convenient because there was a big shopping center right across the street from the field so, we could go get food and drinks from there. I did this for a while until I realized it was not the most efficient way to train in the summer because even though it was fun playing there, it was really hot, and there were not to many people there to play games now I usually just go in the evening or on weekends when there are more people there.

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As the summer went on I started to have more practices and I ended up having four practices a week and two games on the weekend. The reason why I have so much team sessions is because I am currently playing on two teams my regular team (Annandale Boys Club) and my summer team (Washington F.C. ). At home my dad or I will set up different kinds of drills outside with cones to practice my dribbling skills. I do this during the day and then go to practice later; my objective is to try to practice as much as possible.

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Right now I am going to camps, camps are very good because you pretty much play soccer all day and on top of that you’re learning. When I go to camp I make sure to bring a lot of water and sunscreen because you’re outside almost all day and it is important to stay hydrated and keep protected from the sun. I prefer to go to camps with my friends because I love to play soccer with my friends. I hope I get to play with more of my friends throughout the summer also, a lot of my good friends that I love to play soccer with are going to different high schools this is sad because we got really close over the school year and then now we have to split up and go to different high schools. My plan for the rest of the summer is to just practice even more than I used to and develop my weak foot.

 

Spaghetti for breakfast?! DO we dare?! WE DO!

Waking up to a bowl of WHOLE GRAIN pasta for breakfast may be a deviation from usual your bowl of cereal, but it turns out that you can eat this Italian staple for your morning meal. Just make sure it’s whole grain.

Typically, pasta is not associated with breakfast, but why not? Pasta is filled with tons of carbohydrates which convert to energy and what better way to start your day. Whole grain pasta is a way better way to start your day rather than a bowl of sugary cereal.

With this said, I am saying a “healthy” pasta breakfast is great for the body. Avoid fettuccine alfredo and other sauces made with high-fat cream.

Liz Pearson, leading Canadian dietitian and best-selling author, says that “eating whole grain pasta provides essential nutrients, such as fiber, calcium, selenium, potassium, zinc, magnesium and vitamins K and E.” She points to a Cornell University study which found that more than 80 percent of disease-fighting antioxidants are found in the bran or germ part of the whole grain, which is removed in refined grains. “Whole grains have an antioxidant content that rivals or exceeds that of fruits and vegetables, and contain as much as double the calcium and selenium, four times more fiber, potassium and zinc, six times more magnesium and vitamin K, and 14 times more vitamin E than refined grains,” she explains.

Scientific studies link eating more whole grains to a reduced waistline, she adds, pointing to a recent Penn State study of 50 obese adults on a calorie-reduced diet, half of whom ate only whole grains while the other half ate only refined grains over a 12-week period.

Research also suggests that the regular consumption of whole grains translates into lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.

One of the recipes I love for morning spaghetti is the ‘Breakfast pasta with bacon and poached egg’ found on joybaker.com.

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Breakfast Pasta with Bacon and Poached Eggs

serves 2 and is easily doubled
8 ounces dried spaghetti
4 slices thick-sliced bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
juice of 1 lemon
small handful coarsely chopped parsley
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
salt and crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
2 large eggs, poached

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place uncooked bacon on a single layer atop the foil.  Place in the oven and allow to cook until  bacon is crisp, 8 to 12 minutes depending on how crisp you like your bacon.  Remove from the oven and placed the bacon on two paper towel atop a dinner plate.  Allow to rest until cool enough to handle.  When cool, chop coarsely.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add a large pinch of salt to the boiling water and add dry spaghetti.  Cook until al-dente then drain.

While the pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a small saucepan.  Add the sliced garlic and cook over low heat until the oil is fragrant and the garlic is just slightly golden.  Remove from the heat and add butter.  Stir to melt.

In a large bowl, toss together warm drained pasta, garlic oil with butter, lemon juice, parsley, bacon, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Poach eggs, according to your own genius.

Divide between bowls and top with egg.  Sprinkle with a bit more cheese and crushed red pepper flakes.  This breakfast is best served the day it is made.

 

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Can’t get enough of spaghetti for breakfast! Try it with your family and share your thoughts on the comment feed found below!

 

 

Whole Grain Pasta Facts Found here: http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/816050/pasta-for-breakfast-is-good-for-your-health-1

Breakfast pasta with bacon and poached eggs recipe found here: http://joythebaker.com/2013/09/breakfast-pasta-with-bacon-and-poached-eggs/

A Family that Walks Together..

Simplicity is key. Starting family traditions at an early age, allows for healthy routines later on in life for children. Taking walks around the neighborhood is the perfect activity that gets the whole family moving. My husband has bad knees and a three year old with short legs, so they cannot always keep up with bike rides or running. Walks are something everyone can do together at a slow or fast pace. We have a puppy too so it gets her out of the back yard. Fitness is for the whole family.
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It is recommended that people get between 30-60 minutes a day of moderate physical activity. Start small. Start with your neighborhood, around the block. If your family is not ready for a major hike, visit a local park. Practice walking the easier routes and conquer those paths and hills until everyone feels comfortable enough to try something more adventurous.

Incorporate walking into your daily routine. Park and walk at a distance when shopping, walk if you can instead of drive. This will help reinforce walking as part of your lifestyle. Children pick up on routines like this fast. Teach them that the shortest route is not always best.

Make it fun. Find an upcoming local walk that the family can do. Find a local place where you can have a picnic or visit an aquarium, a zoo, a park or a museum as part of the walk.
Bring enough snacks and water. Ensuring everyone stays hydrated and energized throughout the walk makes the walk more enjoyable. Dropping sugar levels and getting dehydrated can make people tired, cranky and irritable.

According to Dr. Oz, regular walkers have fewer heart attacks and strokes, have lower blood pressure, and have higher levels of healthy HDL cholesterol than couch sitters do. In one study of women, a regular walking program did just as much in the heart-protection department as more vigorous exercise did. Thirty minutes of walking a day makes your muscles more sensitive to insulin. That allows glucose to do its duty inside your cells rather than pile up in your bloodstream (that’s what happens when you have diabetes). It also helps give you good energy. Not only can a walk perk you up when you need it, but also it helps improve the quality of your sleep, so you’re more energetic all day long. I know as a mother of 2, I could use all the energy I can get.

Get the family together, talk and walk. Enjoy each one another company. Let the kids explore nature. Make a game out of it. Who can find the most pine cones, acorns, etc? There are adventures around every corner. Help your kids explore.

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An Apple day …

An apple is one of my favorite easy on the run snacks. They don’t need prep or even a plate. I always have apples in my house. They can be super sweet to super tart. I personally like sour green apples, my boys like sweet red. That no problem, I don’t mind having them both in stock.

One apple has about 100 calories. They don’t have saturated fats or cholesterol. They are very low in sodium and high in Vitamin B6 and C. Vitamin C is a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body. The skin itself is high in antioxidants which are thought to help protect us from heart disease.

Apples also contain a small amount of minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure; thus, counters the bad influences of sodium.

One should eat apples or most fruit as they are, along with their peel in order to get maximum health-benefits. Sometimes we need to play with our food! I have a few fun ways to eat apples up my sleeve.

Apple Chips

Wash, core, and thinly slice 2 apples. The apples can be sliced in any manner desired but the thinner the better. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and arrange the apple slices in a single layer on the sheet. Sprinkle cinnamon on the top of the apples. Bake the apples in a 200 degree oven for 2 hours (turn after the hour mark). The apple chips not only make a delicious snack, but they make the entire house smell good while they are baking!

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Apple and Cheddar Quesadilla

Ingredients:
2 Tortillas
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ diced apple

Apples and cheese? They’re a match made in heaven. Place them both between two tortillas and that is perfection. Thinly slice up your favorite apple. Take your cheddar cheese and spread over one tortilla. Top with apples and then add second tortilla. Place on a hot skillet. After a minute or so, flip. Cook other side. Slice and serve. Warm melted cheese, with a still crisp taste of sweet apple is so comforting and fun.

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There is nothing wrong with adding fruits to your breakfast, lunch and dinner. The more the merrier. Have fun with your food. Make it exciting. Make it healthy.

Carrots

We are bunny parents. We always have at least 3lbs of carrots in our refrigerator at any time. Even though I buy them for our little bun bun, he doesn’t always get them all. Shh don’t tell him! We are a carrot loving family. In any shape or form, we love can’t get enough. My boys, Travis and Justin love their baby carrots, while my husband and I like the big natural raw looking ones. Makes us feel rustic. Dipping them in lite ranch, hummus, or a veggie dip you can’t go wrong. If the myth that eating too many carrots could turn you orange, we would be in trouble.

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We take them with us to the park and on walks. I like that they seem to stay cool for a long time when placed in a tight sealed container. So they are very refreshing, unlike taking something like crackers which make you thirsty. Veggies should always be you’re first option. My husband likes taking them to work. He keeps them right in the truck and eats them between jobs. He said they were like little energy boosters.

Naturally sugary, delicious and crunchy, carrots are healthy additions that should by on the vegetable list in your diet. Sweet and crunchy carrots are notably rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and dietary fiber. They only have 41 calories per serving, a negligible amount of fat and no cholesterol. They are exceptionally rich source of carotene and vitamin-A.

Carrots are in my opinion, are kept raw more than they should be. Now there is nothing wrong with chomping down on a crispy cold carrot. I love carrots shredded and in my salads. One can’t have Coleslaw without carrots mixed with the cabbage. But they are also delicious steamed served up as a side with some grilled chicken.

Easy Coleslaw
3 cups of Shredded Cabbage
1 cup Grated Carrots
1 jar lite Coleslaw dressing

Mix cabbage and carrots. Add jar of dressing to the mixture and stir until all of vegetable mixture is fully coated. Chill and serve.

How easy is that? I am a coleslaw lover. I never knew that they sold the dressing. It is healthier than mayonnaise. And it is using fresh veggies than already made coleslaw that could have been frozen for so long that the nutrients are lost.

 

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Kids in the Kitchen

Anything a parent can make a child that they actually will eat is a win. Making something that they want to eat and as a bonus, can make themselves, that makes it a winner. Snacks that involve no hot pans, no ovens, and no knives are really easy to find. My oldest son is very into helping me in the kitchen. That makes me so happy. I am teaching him independence and how to make healthy decisions. He is no top chef but he makes peanut and jelly sandwiches for him and his brother. He knows how crack eggs and mix the right amount of milk and seasoning for his morning eggs. Teaching our kids basics in the kitchen will allow for them to not rely on fast food or premade anything. Here are a couple cute, fun, easy recipes that are kid friendly.

Peanut Butter Banana Wrap

Ingredients:
1 Tortilla or Wrap
Peanut Butter
1 Banana

Evenly spread peanut butter on a tortilla or wrap. I have taught my son how to be safe with a butter knife, if you don’t feel your little one is ready then they can spread it on with a spoon.

Peel a banana and roll it up in the wrap.

If you have them handy, you can add raisins, nuts or seeds. Let your kids make decisions like this. See if they know the difference between healthy and not.

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Cinnamon Cream Cheese Dip
Ingredients:
1 8oz block of low fat Cream Cheese
½ cup plain Greek Yogurt
2 tsp Cinnamon
2-4 tsp honey
Apples to dip with

Let cream cheese soften so it is easy to work with. Mix with yogurt until smooth. Add the cinnamon. Slowly add honey until it is the sweetness you want it. Stir well again.
Serve with sliced apples.

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In my opinion food should be fun. Everything you eat should be an adventure. Include your kids in that adventure and let them explore the pantry and refrigerator. They might just surprise you. When eating stops being a chore for them, they will learn how to make healthy choices because it is now their decision. Let’s make sure that the next generation grows up strong and healthy and able to know the difference between good and bad, in the kitchen and in the real world.

 

Stick to the basics!

More is not always better. Simple can be just as delicious as something that took all day to prepare. And let’s face it, sometimes just sitting down with a bag or grapes or crackers and cheese is nice. Giving kids a variety of easy snacks to choose from is a way to teach them how to recognize healthy options. Serving food how it comes, plain and raw promotes a simplistic type of diet. Protein and vitamin packed with no effort.

Hard boiled eggs are so easy, back to basics protein. This is an example of food that needs nothing. It is delicious on its own. No need to season or add a sauce. Boil the eggs for about 9 minutes. Crack and eat. My son loves peeling the eggs. We even have contests to see who can peel the fastest. At 70 calories and more than 6g of protein, it is the perfect energy boost. Another thing I like about boiling the eggs is that we enjoy them for breakfast, brunch, lunch or just a snack. You can’t go wrong with them.

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I recently purchased a 3lb bag of pretzels. I thought it would last a year. The bag is ¾ gone. My youngest son is obsessed. He loves them. Per every 100 pretzels, they are about 100 calories and 3g of protein. They are very low in fat, only about a gram per serving. I use them as an alternative instead of chips. They are so good dipped in hummus.

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Another straight out of the bag snack we like are baby carrots. That is a no brain-er isn’t it? They are so delicious and refreshing. Especially on a hot day, carrots hydrate you.

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Raisins are one of the other things my kids are obsessed with. I use them in a lot of my recipes. Adding them to rice pudding gives a natural sweetness to the dish. .That is something that I think attracts my kids to them. The natural sweetness in raisins almost makes it into a candy. Maybe because they look like chocolate chips too? Raisins are nutritious and may provide you with a boost of energy, but they’re also high in calories and sugar. A 1/4-cup serving of raisins contains 130 calories, no fat, 10 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, 29 g sugar and 1 g protein. Raisins contain small amounts of iron and calcium and are also a source of antioxidants that may be linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer.

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So remember, you don’t have to be fancy to be healthy. Stay simple, stay healthy.

 

 

 

 

Farmers Markets

We all know eating healthy is the smart way to go. But do we know where to get the healthiest foods we can? Sadly, so many of our local grocery store fruits and veggies are covered in chemicals. Chemicals do not equal healthy. I love my local farmers markets and farms. Not only am I able to get beautiful fresh produce, but most that I go to are all organic and pesticide free. Buying from your local farmer allows you to support local agriculture. This means that the food you are eating comes from nearby, and does not require us to waste lots of energy and petroleum to ship the food halfway around the world. You are eating food in your own environment, where it has perfectly-created nutrients for your specific climate and region. You are also supporting the environment by reducing the usage of fossil fuels. By shopping at the local farmers market, you will eat seasonally, fresh and ripe. This is another great  way to increase your overall health. Supermarkets offer too much variety and the food is picked before it has ripened decreasing the vitality. The body does not need to be eating imported pineapple in the dead of winter.

 

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Many vegetables start to lose their vibrancy and some of their nutrients during storage and transfer. One example is spinach. It loses half of its folic acid content after eight days when stored at 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Fresh produce, in other words, could give you double the nutrients.While I wouldn’t trust just anyone with a stand in a farmers market, the vast majority of produce sold at farmers markets was picked shortly before the market. Crisp, darkest-of-dark greens, bright radishes, sweet strawberries and more are what greet us today. This lovely offering is sure to contain many nutrients. Farmers markets can also be a great place to find pastured chicken eggs, 10 percent grass-fed beef, artisan cheese, and heritage pork. These high-quality products have a higher nutrient content in general (One example: Grass-fed beef contains up to four times the amount of vitamin E when compared to grain-fed cows) and are also better treated.

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We have a few different local farms that are “pick your own”. My favorite is the blueberry farm! Blueberries are something that I treat myself with as often as I can. Sadly most of the time, I can only find them frozen at my local grocer. What better way to get them then picked fresh by my own two hands? The other farm we have is a much bigger one. They offer everything from corn, to watermelons, to habanero peppers. I like taking my boys here especially. When they are the ones picking out their own fruits and veggies, they are more likely to want to eat them. A perfect example is eggplant. My son picked out some very beautiful ones. He cannot wait to help me come up with a recipe for them. Famers Markets also may offer things that you may not always find at big name grocers. Ever heard of a Sweet Asian Melon? They are crazy looking but so good.

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Shop and eat local. Not only are you helping yourself, but you are helping your community grow.

 

 

 

 

 

Staying Hydrated

Staying healthy does not just mean run, play and workout. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of yourself. Healthy food for energy and water to stay hydrated. Most kids do not know the importance of H2o. It is our jobs as parents to ensure that they don’t get thirsty. Drinking plenty of water is an obviously the easiest and best way to stay hydrated.

After a while a lot of kids get tired of water. Bottles get left behind half full and most would rather play in water during a hot day rather than drink it. There are certain foods that help you stay hydrated. Watermelon is number one on my list. Maybe the fact that it is 91% water is why they named it Watermelon. Not only is it a summer staple, but eating it will help ensure that kids are getting some of that important hydration they need. You can also get a pitcher of water, cube up watermelon and add them to the water. It will make the water look more appealing to the little ones. Grapefruit and strawberries are also about 90% water. How easy is it to put out a bowl of fruit? Cantaloupe, baby carrots and celery are other options. Having your kids eat their water is pretty cool.

Along the lines of eating fruit to stay hydrated, adding fruit to water as a flavor is a great idea just like the cubed watermelon I suggested above. Dice up pineapples, oranges, apples, kiwi, or strawberries. If you freeze them first, it keeps the fruit fresher and water cooler longer. Each kid can choose their own flavor, the longer they sit they more flavor that they add to the water. Have you ever tried coconut water? It is delicious.
Make fruit pops. Since so many fruits contain so much water, freeze them and make pops. What kid doesn’t like a fruit pop? You can use cranberry, orange or apple juice. Add your diced fruit and freeze. Simple. Try yogurt too. Yogurt is surprisingly full of water. For every 6 oz of yogurt, it contains about 5 oz of water.
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThere are so many ways to stay hydrated, you have no excuse. The body loses about 10 cups of water a day. As the temperature rises, imagine how much more our youngsters are sweating out. Make sure that for every meal, you serve them water and water filled snacks.

Roll into a healthy summer

My six year old just received his first pair of roller skates. He chose is really cool helmet, knew and elbow pads. We strapped on the skates, slowly walked through the grass over to the drive way and…down on the ground he went. This went on for quite a while. Despite wanting to give up, we kept going. Suddenly, there he went. He was skating. The smile on his face was priceless. Now that’s all he wants to do.

Roller skating is ranked among the best aerobic exercises according to the American Heart Association.  Roller skating is a workout that involves almost all of the body’s muscles and in particular the heart.  Skating also works most of the major muscle groups – glutes, quads, abdomen, calves and arms. The roller skating is equivalent to bicycling and jogging as a cardio workout. I don’t think my six year old has any want to go jogging any time soon.

I personally grew up in a roller rink. I am proud to say that I was pretty good. Race me backwards, watch me do my tricks. Let the disco music come on and watch me groove. Sadly the closest rink to me is about an hour and a half away. We do have a pretty nice hill on my street though. Roller skating is a low impact work out. It is something the whole family can do together.

Just one hour of moderate roller skating burns 330 calories for a 143-pound person. If that same person roller skates vigorously, he or she will burn up to 590 calories in an hour.The positions adopted during skating also help strengthen and build on muscles in the legs, back and abdomen. This is not just an advantage to those wishing to build up their body mass but also serves as an aid to slim fat. Finally, skating is also of course the perfect way to improve one’s balance.

Get a pair for the entire family. Go on little adventures around the neighborhood. A family that rolls together, stays together.

healthy-summer

Fried Rice

This is a tried and true recipe in my house. We love Chinese food. More times than not, homemade is much better than take out. In this case, fried rice definitely applies to that better homemade category. Being able to control the type vegetables and the amount of salt and fat is important.

The addition of eggs mixed into the rice is a perfect addition to the protein train. Adding vegetable to any dish is a plus. This particular dish, allows for a different variety of veggie options. I personally like carrots and onions in mine. When I have them in stock, zucchini is really good too.

I use boil in bag rice for all of my rice recipes. I personally cannot cook rice to save my life. I have no shame. Do what you have to do to insure your family eats well. Don’t let something like not being able to cook rice, set you back or deter you from trying new things.• 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, divided
2 large eggs, beaten
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 small onion diced
2 large carrots chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups cold cooked brown or white rice
2 1/2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

Boil rice. Or cook it if you kn Let cool.Jow how (fancy pants)
Sauté your vegetables, carrots and onions with garlic.

Add your rice to hot oiled skillet with the beaten eggs. Stir and mix continuously until eggs are cooked. Add veggies and soy sauce. Top with scallions.
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Bounce into feeling good

A must have on our property is our trampoline. It was a Christmas gift for my son 3 years ago. It still gets used every day, almost all year long. A trampoline is a terrific piece of equipment that is nothing but fun. My kids can jump for hours.

Today, more and more families are introducing fitness into their own backyard. Unlike video games, or computers a trampoline is a source of fun that has no added expense or needed upgrades. With a trampoline in your own backyard your children will be more active, healthy, and close to home. Being on a trampoline improves many areas of co-ordination, such as balance, agility, rhythm, and timing

Everybody loves to bounce! It’s natural! The younger your children start bouncing, the better. In a very short period of time you will be amazed at their new skills and development. Their co-ordination and balance will improve dramatically. While learning these very important skills, your children are having fun-the time of their lives!
Also, with regard to safety, children with a good working knowledge of a trampoline are going to be less likely hurt themselves in other activities such as skating, or even riding a bicycle. They’re going to have better balance and co-ordination and generally a better knowledge of how to protect themselves in other sports if they fall. We have the net around our trampoline so that the kids cannot injure themselves.

Jumping and bouncing are not the only things you can do on a trampoline. Any excuse to be on it will be beneficial to your kids and family.

*Give the kids some chalk, it washes right off. You can draw a hop-scotch board or a twister board for extra fun.

*Stand a basketball hoop outside the net with the hoop over the top, the kids can play a game of hoops and jump high for a slam dunk.

*Hand them a beach ball, have the children bounce it up in the air and pass it around without it touching the ground.

*Add some extra jump action by trying to jump rope on the trampoline. See who can jump the longest.

*Are you a yoga family? Why not try some of your favorite yoga moves on the soft surface of a trampoline? You may not be able to do all the poses, but you can certainly do some and have fun trying!

Any reason for your children to get off the coach, go outside in the fresh air and play is worth the investment.

Sports

Most of the kids in my grade stay fit by playing sports! The last sport that I participated in was dancing. I did it for about 2 months then I stopped. I am not doing a sport currently but I plan on participating in a sport this coming fall, and right now I am preparing for it. The sport is softball. I played softball a few years ago and stopped but I would like to start again. I like playing sports because sometimes I just get all this built up energy that I don’t know what to do with, and when you play sports you can let all that energy out!

Lately to get prepared for softball at home I have just been tossing a softball with my dad or my friends. At school we have this program called the Presidential Fitness Award. It is a program for the 3-8th graders.  What you do is there are different categories like, pull ups, push- ups, curl ups, flex-arm hang, sit in reach etc. They have National and Presidential for all of the categories, they determine what you need to get for the category by your age. Anyway I have gotten Presidential in all the categories for the past 2 years and I am going to get it this year.  The hardest category is most peoples opinion (and mine) is the mile run. We have a track at our school, and you have to run around the track 4 times (which is a mile) and then you try to get the Presidential time for your age. Every class runs the mile every month, my class just ran it a couple of days ago, I got the best time I have ever gotten (7minutes and 48 seconds.) This is my 4th year running the mile when I started running the mile I got around 11 minutes. So that just shows that when you practice something hard enough that you can get it. The previous mile that I ran I tried as hard as I could, I was hoping to get at least 8 minutes, put since I tried sooooo hard I got better than I expected. Since in softball you have to run to bases you need to practice running, every time we run the mile at school it helps me get prepared for softball!

Sometimes when I doing something  in the house and someone offers me to go running or go play a soccer game etc. I don’t really want to be active and I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. But when I say yes I am so happy that I did because I feel so much better when I am doing something active! Plus it will help you be very fit and healthy. That’s how my friends stay fit, they all play sports, some of them play soccer, basketball, hockey, swimming, or even gymnastics.  It’s also fun playing a sport because you get to meet new friends and be part of a team!

SPRING BREAK!!!!!!

I just got back from my spring break. For spring break my parents and I went to Hilton Head Island, SC. Spring Break 01On the first day of my trip I was just unpacking and getting settled in. On the second day I went walking on a beautiful path near the ocean.

Spring Break 02Then the path led onto the beach, it wasn’t the kind of beach where you would go swimming or play with beach balls. The sand was packed down hard so you could walk on it easily, and there weren’t many people there. But while I was walking I got to talk to my parents and my aunt and uncle came

along (they live there).Spring Break 03 I also got see some really cool stuff! When we were about half way through walking we saw a little stream (it’s the picture to the left). I jumped over it, to get to the other

side, Spring Break 04there was an easier way but it was more fun to jump over it! Since it goes up a little, on the way back when I tried to jump I got a little wet. After I jumped over the stream (the first time) we walked a little further then I

 

saw a horse-shoe crab. It was dead; Spring Break 05it looked like it had been there for a while. But it was pretty big! Then we walked some more then back. Total I would say the walk was about 4 miles. It was a really good work too, that’s one activity you could do while being on vacation or even just when you’re bored at home.

Spring Break 06The next I went to the beach! I got there around noon so the first thing I did was get a sandwich. Then I built a sandcastle with my aunt. It took about 20 minutes to build the sandcastle, I had a lot of fun with it though. Then once the tide started coming in it looked really cool, because we built a moat around it!

Spring Break 07Then I took a walk on the beach, this beach had lots of people on it. When I was walking it was really nice to look at the sky, it was so perfect. Walking is a great exercise you can do if you love to look at nature and animals.

When I was walking on the beach I found a starfish in the water, it was pretty and big, I put it on one of the towers of the sandcastle. Then when it started to dry up I put it back in the water.

Then my aunt and I played with the Frisbee. When we finished with that we made lines in the sand to make a section look like a soccer field then we used a big blue ball and played soccer. After that we just tossed it back and forth, but since the ball was light and the wind was blowing the ball would go far, so we would get a good workout. The next day I went to the pool. I was staying in a relative’s house so they had a pool in their backyard! I did 15 laps in the pool then I just played around.Spring Break 08 I like to do some laps when I get into the pool before I play around. My first reason is just to get used to the water and get stretched out. My second reason, it’s really good exercise to swim and it’s great for your legs and arms. The day after that I went shopping with my parents, we went to a strip mall so we could stay outside in the beautiful sun! It was pretty good exercise walking around. They also had pretty palm trees. When we were walking we went to a shop they were selling hermit crabs that they painted! That is only one example of what you can see while walking.  It is amazing the kind of stuff you can see while you’re walking! So those are the activities that I did while on vacation. I hope that when you go on vacation you will be able to do some of the activities that I did or do some other fun activities!

All the pictures on this page were actually taken by me on my vacation.

Stay Fit

To stay fit I do simple things like walking. Walking is an easier way to stay fit. You can do it by yourself in your neighborhood, or sometimes I like to walk with my friend at recess. We don’t always walk for exercise during recess though, sometimes we get the whole class and we play Capture The Flag. In case you don’t what Capture The Flag is, it’s where there are 2 teams they each have a flag (the flags are usually different colors) and each team has a belt, with 2 pieces of fabric on them that you can attack and detach, the same color as their flag. Then you separate an area of land into 2 section (or 3 depending on whether you are playing with a no-man’s land or not) and each team picks a section. Then your team hides your flag on your side and the each team tries to get each other’s flag before the other. If you go on your opponent’s side then they can pull your piece of fabric, and if they do you have to go to their jail, and you have to stay there until one of your team mates tags you out. Sometimes our class will play kick ball, which is basically baseball but instead of hitting the baseball with a bat, you get a medium sized air-filled ball and kick it. Stay FitAnother game that we play that will keep you on your feet is Four Square. To play Four Square you have to get a piece of land and draw the picture above with chalk (some schools already have the playing area drawn out). There is an Ace, King, Queen, and Jack in this game; they are in order of power according to the game. You use an air-filled ball for this game too. The Ace always starts with the ball, they will pass it to one of the four players and it can pounce once in each square. If it goes out of one of the four square then whoever touched it last it out of that round.

When I am at home and bored, sometimes I like to the treadmill. It lets me get out all the pent up energy that I have had inside of me all day. While I do the treadmill I watch TV or I also like to listen to music. Another thing I will do when I am bored at home is go biking with my neighbors. We usually bike for about 30minutes, we don’t go very far just around our neighborhood. It is also fun to do that because I get to talk to my neighbors and I don’t usually have much time to do that, and biking is great exercise.  Sometimes in the summer, spring, and fall my parents and I walk to restaurants. They are usually pretty close to us, like about a 20 minute walk; and after we eat dinner if there is an ice cream shop nearby we usually get one scoop and eat it on the way back, so we can burn off the calories.

Honey Dipped Apples

A main thing to keep in mind when you are trying to eat healthy is try to find a food that is healthy that you like. My food is salad, I love salad! So most of the time when we go out to dinner, I get a Caesar Salad with chicken or shrimp. A Caesar Salad consists of romaine lettuce, crotons, parmesan cheese, Caesar dressing, and you can add chicken and sometimes you can add shrimp. Salad is so healthy so I eat it quite a bit. I eat chicken salad every day for lunch when I am at school, and sometimes I eat a small salad without chicken right before dinner.

I have noticed that when I don’t eat sweets or dessert for a while that I don’t crave them. But when I eat ice cream one night the next night I want some. If just resist the urge to eat it one night then the next night you won’t want to eat it as much. There is nothing wrong is eating ice cream or other desserts once, but you probably don’t want to eat anything that is very high in calories more than once a week.

Stay HealthyIf you look to the right you will see the “healthy plate” as I like to call it. It tells you what foods you are supposed to have, and how much, on your plate for every meal of the day.

Now of course not everyone is going to follow this for every meal or even for one meal, but I think it has a good outline of what you should be eating. Like I said earlier try to find healthy foods that you like. So for my fruits I could eat strawberries, apples, raspberries, and blueberries . For my vegetables I could eat broccoli, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, and spinach. I have heard many people say “The darker green the vegetables the healthier it is for you.” For my protein I could eat chicken and turkey slices. Protein doesn’t have to come from meat, it can also come from beans, yogurt, eggs etc. For my grains I could eat brown rice, wheat bread, and pasta. For my dairy I would have low fat chocolate milk.

Another thing my family and I do to stay healthy is not keeping junk food in the house.  If we have ice cream or chocolate or chips in the house everyone is going to eat it, so we just don’t buy them. Of course every once and while we will go out and get ice cream, but we will get it from an ice cream shop so we don’t take it home and keep.

I try to only eat when I am hungry. Sometimes when I am bored I feel like I am hungry, and I want to get something to eat from my refrigerator or pantry, but then I realize that I am not actually hungry, just bored so I don’t eat anything. Sometimes when I want to eat because I am bored I chew gum, because it gives me something to do, but I always chew sugar free!

Healthy Recipes

Sometimes when I eat desserts I feel so full because it was so heavy or it was really unhealthy. So here are some light dessert recipes:

#1: Chocolate covered strawberries.

Chocolate covered strawberriesAll you have to do is buy a box of strawberries, then buy some chocolate. Then you warm up the chocolate for about 1 minute. Dip the strawberries in the chocolate. If you want to be healthier about it you should buy organic strawberries and organic dark chocolate.

 

#2: Yogurt

YogurtYogurt is very healthy, and it is high in protein. My favorite type of yogurt is “Voskos.” It is fat free, high in protein, and low in sugar. You can get many different types of flavors, blueberry, vanilla, raspberry, strawberry etc. My favorite is the strawberry. If you like it sweet you can add honey and it tastes really good, or you can add berries to it and that will also make it sweet.

#3: Fruit Bowl With Honey

Fruit Bowl With HoneySometimes when I am looking for something sweet to eat I get all the berries in my refrigerator, which are usually strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries. I will also get cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew or pineapple. I put them in a bowl and then I drizzle honey on them!

 

#4: Watermelon Popsicle

Watermelon PopsicleOn a hot summer day this is a perfect dessert or snack. All you have to do is cut about 2 ½ cups of watermelon. ( 2 ½ cups would make 4-8 popsicles, so it may vary depending on how many you want to make.) Then you put the watermelon in a blender. I like to add lime or lemon into the watermelon mixture to give it more flavor. After it is in liquid form pour it into Popsicle trays or any other stencil you may be using. Put Popsicle sticks in the stencil. Then put it in the freezer and wait about 4 hours.

#5: Fruit Smoothie

Fruit SmoothieSometimes I like to drink a fruit smoothie for breakfast, when I can’t think of anything to make. To make it you put ¾ of a cup plain yogurt and ¼ of a cup mixed berries ( I like to use the strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries that I have had for a while) in a blender. Blend it until it has become smooth.  If you like it sweet, then after you put the smoothie in the glass you are going to use, add some honey and mix it in. That is about a cup of fruit smoothie.

 

 

#6: Honey Dipped Apples

Honey Dipped ApplesSometimes when I need a snack to hold me over until lunch or dinner, I dip my apples in caramel. My favorite kind of apples are honey crisp there are in season right now actually. The honey I have is “Gunter’s” “PURE HONEY CLOVER” and it is 100% natural. There is no fat and no sodium. If you just cut up the apple into slices and pour some honey into a bowl, then you just dip the apple in the honey and enjoy.

Why Snacking is So Important?

I am a mother of 2 young boys. Anyone with even one child knows the struggle. The breakfast struggle, the lunchtime struggle, and the all time worst dinner struggle. Poor veggies are pushed around the plate in endless circles. The dog is under the table eating more than the kids. There is something about sitting down for a meal that makes children become stubborn and no longer hungry. Snacks for me are a savior.

Throughout the day, I like to give my kids as much snacks as possible. We’ve all had our little ones who fall asleep before dinner time. You can’t wake them because they’re grumpy and most likely won’t eat.  All kids go through their no eating phases too. Its natural but you feel so guilty because you know they need to eat something.

Usually, breakfast is the best chance of happy plates out of the three daily meals. Kids wake up hungry and they usually don’t mind what is served. How can you go wrong with breakfast anyway? A couple hours after breakfast, I like to offer my boys something light but nutritious. The key is to give them something they can eat on the run, and avoid sitting at a table making it feel like another formal meal. Some veggie sticks, some fruit pops, cheese sticks or fruit like a banana or apple are good examples.

After lunch, which is usually a light meal anyway, I like to offer almost another meal in the form of a snack. A platter of deli meat, cheese, crackers and veggies with a dipping sauce. The reasoning behind the meat and cheese platter idea is that I can set it out and the boys and come and munch as they please. It is the freedom that they seem to like. No one is staring at them telling them what to eat. Another option are smoothies. Vitamin packed glasses of fun. What kid doesn’t like smoothies? They are sneaky ways to ensure that your child is getting the nutrients they may later skip out on.

After dinner is a little bit harder. Every parent wants their child to finish everything on their plate. Lets be honest though, it doesn’t happen as often as we would like. You can only make a 2 year old do so much before they end up winning the war. Making a deal with them sometimes may help you at least win a battle. Offering them the choice of “eat your green beans and you can have a treat” usually works. And while you may be thinking ice cream for dessert, you can’t reward them with something like that. Frozen yogurt is a good alternative. A bowl of fruit on top of yogurt with granola.

The whole point is to keep our little ones with full happy bellies. Just because you may not be able to eat like that, doesn’t mean that they can’t.

How do your kids like to snack? How do you ensure that your kids are getting all the nutrients they need despite curveballs that they may throw at you?

lovefood

Justin sometimes gets really excited about food

Healthy Smiles and healthy kids.

A healthy kid can be based not only on over all physical health. Oral health connects to not only brushing teeth regularly but making healthy food choices as well. Even though little ones have their baby teeth, taking good care of them now will not only ensure that the adult teeth come in healthy, but it begins to form healthy habits for when they grow up.

teeth

With my first son, I was not the best at ensuring that his teeth were being taken care of. You think that they can’t get that bad and that they are going to fall out anyway. About 15 cavities later and teeth that won’t fall out fast enough, him and I both have a few found passion in teeth health. He wants to have a nice smile and is now helping ensure his little brother keeps his teeth clean too.

We all know that milk is a very important vitamin that is beneficial to teeth health. On average, most children should be consuming at least 2 cups of milk a day.  Cheese, chicken and nuts are also great options that offer calcium. Another important benefit is that these foods are thought to protect tooth enamel by not only providing calcium but the phosphorus needed to remineralize teeth.

Fruit is a no brainer when it comes to healthy eating. They are also very helpful in maintaining a healthy smile. Due to the high water content they stimulate the flow of saliva which helps protect against decay by washing away food particles.

Be careful with acidic fruits such as citrus fruits (I use limes/lemons on almost everything so this is a tough one for me and tomatoes. If you have to have them like me, mix them into a large meal or serving so that it dilutes and minimizes the amount of acid actually being consumed.

We obviously all know things that are not good for our teeth. Candy, cookies, cakes pies, chips, French fries…am I making you hungry yet? Anyway, If it doesn’t sound good for your waist line, it probably is not good for your teeth. Foods that contain high amounts of sugar provide a fuel source for bacteria.

The best beverage choices include water , milk and unsweetened tea. Limit your consumption of sugar-containing drinks, including soft drinks, lemonade, and coffee or tea with added sugar.

Avoid exposing your teeth to constant sugar and constant decay causing acids.

What do you do to ensure your child keeps their smile white and healthy?

Magic Beans

Growing up in a Mexican household, beans have always been a huge part of my diet. I have passed that on to my kids as well. Beans are full of nutrients. The fact that they are so inexpensive, and a little can go such a long way is a bonus. Something that can be prepared the day before, used for breakfast lunch and dinner, and can be transformed easily like beans makes them a miracle food.

Many beans can carry between 50 to 100 calories per cup, with only 1 gram of fat, and the good kind too!  But that’s not all they also provides a whopping 8 grams of protein and 119 percent of your daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C. You’ll also get 8 percent of your daily recommended allowance of iron, which you need to help your muscles utilize oxygen to its best advantage.

There are many ways to use beans. Mix together some ground turkey, kidney beans, tomatoes and onions for a protein packed chili.

Turkey Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1lb of Ground Turkey
  • 2 cans of Dark Red Kidney Beans
  • 2 cans of Light Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 Diced Tomato
  • 1 Diced Onion
  • 1 Can Tomato Sauce

Directions:

Brown the ground turkey in a skillet. Drain. Add all ingredients to crock pot. Season to taste. Cook on low for about 4 hours, until ingredients cook together.

I am Mexican so my favorite bean is a Pinto Bean. Traditionally the pinto is what re-fried beans are made out of. They are such an easy bean to prepare. After I make the beans, I serve them whole. I add vegetables to the pot like tomatoes, onions and bell peppers. This is a great way to add some more veggies to a meal. For breakfast the next morning, I mash them up and “re-fry” them. As a side to scrambled eggs and a corn tortilla, my kids can’t get enough. That is another super protein packed meal thanks to a bean.

To prepare a pot of Pinto beans you first need to soak and clean them. Remove the cracked and split beans. You should also keep an eye out for tiny rocks that may have slipped through the sorting. Talk about all natural huh?

The ratio is five cups of water per one cup of beans. Add together and bring to a boil. Add about a tablespoon of salt. Once brought to a boil, cover and simmer on low for about 3 hours or until soft.

To re-fry, mash the beans and add to a skillet with a little bit of vegetable oil. Heat until the consistency you want. If they get too dry, you can add a little bit of water to the pan.

I hope this ode to the bean, the super protein legume, makes you want to add a few to your and your kids diet. Let us know what your families’ favorite bean is and how you like to prepare it.

Pinto beans with sliced sweet peppers

Pinto beans with sliced sweet peppers

Super Foods for Super Kids

A super food is something that contains high amounts of beneficial vitamins and nutrients. Adding any of these to your child’s diet is a great start to making your kids super healthy. A super food is a food that provides fiber, vitamins, minerals and are high in antioxidants.  Eating these types of food is so important for your kids in order to keep them strong as they grow up.

Blueberries are a very super duper super food. These small berries are jam packed with antioxidants.  They are proven to improve brain function too. These sweet little fruits are so easy to incorporate into any ones diet. Top your waffles or pancakes with them. Add them to your little ones cereal. Can you say blueberry muffins? Who doesn’t like an antioxidant filled muffin? I know I do, and I know my kids don’t mind them either. Add them to some yogurt for a yummy breakfast or a healthy after dinner dessert. If you have never made fruit pops, here is a recipe for a blueberry version. These are great for the summer.

Blueberries

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup heavy cream

In a small saucepan, bring blueberries and 1/4 cup sugar to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, crushing berries against side of pan with a wooden spoon, until mixture is syrupy, 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until cool, 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar, yogurt, and cream until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add blueberry mixture to yogurt mixture; gently fold twice to just combine. Pour into ice-pop molds. Freeze until solid.

Most parents of small children know the power of ketchup in getting their child to eat certain foods. Tomatoes, a main ingredient in ketchup, are a super food for children because they contain lycopene, a nutrient that protects a child from cancer, according to Parenting Magazine. Tomatoes are fairly simple to get kids to eat because they make up many of their favorite things, such as spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce and ketchup. Tomatoes can also be tossed in salads, layered on sandwiches or served as a side dish when diced up and lightly drizzled with salad dressing.

According to Family Education, sweet potatoes are kid friendly and versatile, making them a super food that many children will enjoy eating. They contain vitamin C, potassium and fiber, nutrients that fight off disease and promote a healthy digestive tract. Sweet potatoes can be served baked, roasted or steamed as a healthy snack or side dish. These orange vegetables are a good first food for babies just beginning to eat solid foods. They come in a jar or can be prepared at home. As children get older they can eat diced sweet potatoes as a finger food. If you have never tried sweet potato fries, here is a great and simple recipe. Switching these out for plain fries is a great alternative. Kids will love the sweetness too.

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss sweet potato wedges with oil, salt and pepper. Spread the wedges out on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until browned and tender, turning once, about 20 minutes total

 

Get Fishy With It

Since we moved to Florida, we eat a little bit more fish than we used to. It helps that we live only 5 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. My husband and oldest son go fishing every chance they get. On days that their luck was a little low, we have some incredible fresh fish markets very close to us too. It is something quite amazing though for my son to bring home his days catch to feed his family.

travisfish

Fish and seafood should form a major part of any healthy diet. It is an excellent source of protein, a vital source of essential fatty acids and contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. It is also low in calories which make it great for any ones diet. In addition to vitamins, fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients offer a variety of health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids are also credited with promoting healthy brain function. Fish that are especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, perch, cod and sea bass.

Fish is a protein that can be made so many different ways. Baked, fried, stuffed, poached and smoked. The possibilities are endless. When kids think of fish though, they think of fish sticks. There is nothing wrong with that. Most boxed, frozen choices though are high in calories and low in vitamins. Just one frozen fish stick of 28 grams already nets you 81 calories, which is pretty significant if you consider the actual size of a single fish stick.

Despite what part of the country you live in, you should be able to find fresh fish in a market near you. So instead of buying premade fish sticks for your little ones, make your own. You can make these homemade fish sticks in about the same amount of time it takes to bake a box of the frozen kind.

  • 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup whole grain cereal flakes
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten
  • 1 lb of your favorite white fish
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet; coat with cooking spray.

Place breadcrumbs, cereal flakes, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and process until finely ground. Transfer to a shallow dish.

Place flour in a second shallow dish and egg whites in a third shallow dish. Dredge each strip of fish in the flour, dip it in the egg and then coat all sides with the breadcrumb mixture. Place on the prepared rack. Coat both sides of the breaded fish with cooking spray.

Bake until the fish is cooked through and the breading is golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.

Fish sticks or fish nuggets?

Fish sticks or fish nuggets?

Zucchini Pizza

Pizza is on the top of I think everyone’s favorite food list. It is definitely on the top of every child’s list. We all know though that it is a guilty pleasure that we cannot eat all the time. An alternative I like to make is Zucchini pizza. Everyone enjoys the flavor of this delicious and different way to serve zucchini. It is a healthy, quick meal to prepare and a change from what we know as pizza.

An average slice of cheese pizza is about 200 calories. They have almost 400mg of sodium and 8 grams of fat. That greasy goodness can become a nightmare for any ones diet. Zucchini is very low in calories. They contain no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is a great source of dietary fiber. Vitamin A and Potassium are other amazing reasons to try this recipe. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte and helps bring the reduction in blood pressure and heart rates by countering pressure-effects of sodium.

Switching a meal like this is so beneficial to your kids health. Not only physically, but breaking the normal cycle is just as important. Introducing them  to new foods and new experiences will help them make create better eating habits throughout their life. Maybe at the food line in school they may actually go for the veggies if they have a positive experience with it at home first.

Here is my recipe for Zucchini Pizza. Like any pizza, the toppings are endless. Have fun with it. Get your kids involved too in helping and customizing their personal pizza.

Zucchini Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 4 zucchinis
  • olive oil
  • shredded low fat mozzarella
  • grated parmesan
  • cherry tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • basil

Slice the zucchini in half. Slice off the bottom to keep in stable. Brush with olive oil. Top with sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Use mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese or mixed blend.sprinkle with basil..

Bake 375 for 20 to 30 minutes until soft.

zucchini

Make a Switch 2

Every parent likes to find quick tasty meal options for their kids. There are so many bright colored boxes that attract our little ones eyes. Sometimes we might give in. But for the well being of our kids, we need to break the cycle and just say no. There are so many different alternatives that can be substituted for these quick tasty, unhealthy options.

Frozen waffles are always a fast breakfast treat. But they are high in sugar. They really don’t have as much fiber as they should either. They really don’t taste that great unless drowning in syrup and butter. Making homemade waffles is not as hard as it seems. Its as simple as mixing a batter and pouring into a waffle iron. Waffle irons are not expensive either. I actually found mine on sale at Walgreens for $4!

Waffle Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups
  • 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Stir dry ingredients and then wet. Mix together
  2. Add to heated waffle iron for about 3-4 minutes
  3. Top with fruit, yogurt, low fat whipped cream, preserves..etc.. The possibilities are endless.

waffle-2

Lunchables are another popular kid treat. Maybe its the bright yellow box or could it possibly be the candy that comes with every meal? Now this a no brainer. Lunch meat, crackers and cheese is obviously a great meal plan. These packaged meals are very high in sodium, calories and fat. Make your own Lunchable. Slice up some fresh from the deli meat, whole wheat crackers and all natural cheese. Adding some fruit could be the special bonus too. They are also quite expensive. You could probably purchase all of your own ingredients, enough to last a week for the same price as two Lunchables.

Macaroni and cheese is a very popular side in my house. Who doesn’t like Mac and Cheese? When one thinks of healthy, powdered processed cheese sauce usually is not the first thing that comes to mind. Making this classic from scratch is not much harder than dumping sodium packed powder onto low fiber, bland noodles.

Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • (16 ounce) package whole wheat macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups 1% milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in boiling water, 8 minutes. Drain.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour to make a roux. Slowly add milk to roux, stirring constantly. Stir in Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and cook over low heat until cheese is melted and sauce is thick, about 3 minutes. Place macaroni in large baking dish and pour sauce over macaroni. Stir well.

Bake in preheated oven until cheese sauce is hot.

Toast to Healthy Snacks!

After a long day at school, kids need fuel. Fuel to complete hours of homework and hopefully a couple of hours playing with friends and neighbors before they eat dinner, go to bed and start the cycle all over again. I know the second my boys walk through the door in the afternoon, they make a beeline for the pantry. This close to dinner time, I don’t feel like cooking anything heavy that will curb their appetite. There are many small but nutritious snacks that can be made for those hungry little bellies.

Toast is one of my boys favorite things to snack on. Mine too! Toast is a perfect example of being able to customize the same “meal” to different tastes without too much of a hassle. It is fast, filling, (not too filling) and can be topped with yummy flavors. And remember, just because its toast, butter is not always needed! No need to add extra saturated fats to your kids’ diet. I use whole wheat bread. It has much more nutrients. Raspberry preserves are delicious, and there are so many different kinds. Peanut butter or almond butter is also other no brainers. Any kind of fruit added to a piece of toast is also always a winner. If your kids like cottage cheese, a little of that with some peaches is delicious.

French toast is not just for breakfast anymore. Add an egg to it for some extra protein. Now remember, just because its French toast, you don’t need to add butter and sugar packed syrup. Top with preserves, fresh fruit like bananas and berries, or simple cinnamon. A little bit of Greek yogurt dolloped on top sounds delicious doesn’t it?

Now with any kind of snack or meal that is being prepared for kids, it helps making it fun. Telling them that it is good for them, doesn’t really seal the deal. Here is cute way to serve toast that would make any little one want to go wild!

Teddy Bear Toast

Ingredients:

  • Slice of Whole Wheat Bread
  • Banana Slices
  • Jelly or Raisins
  • Peanut Butter

Toast Bread, Spread Peanut Butter, Position banana slices for ears and nose. Add drops of jelly for the eyes and nose, or place raisins in the same spots.

Teddy Bear Toast

Teddy Bear Toast

School Lunches

I have a son in Kindergarten. He could not wait to go to his big kid school, ride the bus and eat school lunch. Well, he’s at the school, there are no buses for our area, and he ate school lunch for about a month before we pulled his lunchbox back out. At first he was very excited about getting pizza and corn dogs. But after a while, like all things, he go tired of it. Now I am a young parent. It wasn’t but 10 years ago that I was in a lunch line trying to find something that looked edible. I understand the feeling. 

So here I have my 6 year old telling me he would rather have a peanut butter and jelly than what he was being offered. At first I was a little upset. I know that what they are offering isn’t always the tastiest but I know that regardless of taste it is a well rounded meal. I told him to try it out for a couple more days until I could get to the grocery store to get things for his packed lunch. I asked him during our ride home after school what he had that day. One day he said just pineapples, another it was juice and applesauce. He wasn’t even eating his food. I felt horrible. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how healthy something is if the child isn’t eating it. But now he is happy, full and healthy. 

We pack him his favorite peanut butter and jelly. He switches between apples and cheese, oranges or a banana. He also takes an applesauce and yogurt. He loves water. He always has his bottle on him full of fresh water. So now instead of being served a lunch that is being wasted, he eats what he wants in his lunch until he is full. He brings home his leftovers for either a snack or takes it back the next day. No waste.

Now don’t get me wrong. Not every child hates school lunch. There are more than 32 million children who eat school meals every day. It is just as important as ever to ensure that there is something healthy for our youth to have access to. For many school children, school lunch is their only meal of the day. In the past few years the quality of the food has also increased. New meal and nutrition plans have been set up. Salad bars have been placed in many lunch rooms. That is something I would have personally enjoyed having.  School lunches also expose some children to food they may have never had before. 

So many kids these days are so picky with what they choose to eat. In a situation like school, we cannot be there to tell them they cannot leave the table until all of their green beans are gone. Sometimes we have to put trust into our child and listen to what they want. In the long run, they are the ones who will benefit from it.

Healthy Fast Lunch for the Busy Professional

I work 40 hours per week as the marketing team lead for MECKids. I love my job, with that said; it is not uncommon for me to work overtime. To add to the equation, once a week I work part-time closing hours at my favorite store, Anthropologie. That’s a 17 hour day! By the time I get home its midnight and I am exhausted.

As a young professional in my early 20’s, I still do not have the luxury of eating out for lunch and dinner every day.  Truth be told, I really do not enjoy eating outside. It’s too pricey, you can never customize your meal the way you really want and all those extra calories do not make shelling out my hard earn money worth it.

My solution is quick lunches. I do not enjoy prepping for the week. I like the feeling of fresh made food, so I make things that I can prep, cook and clean up in less than 20 minutes.

My top 5 lunch meals

(images taken from here)

 

#5:  Burrito Salad
1
Ingredients:

1 ½ cups lettuce
½ cup brown rice cooked
1/3 cup black beans, cooked
1 cup tomatoes, onions, red peppers)
2 tablespoons avocado or guacamole
2 tablespoons salsa

Directions:
1. Place lettuce in large Tupperware container
2. Add rice and beans
3. Top with vegetables, plus salsa
2. Eat cold

 

#4 Southwest Chicken Quinoa
2

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ green pepper, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 pound chicken, cooked and diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups quinoa, cooked
1 cup low fat  plain Greek yogurt
½ cup cilantro
Salsa

Directions:
1. Sauté vegetables in olive oil until tender
2. Add the spices and chicken to the vegetable mixture and cook for 2 minutes
3. Combine quinoa and the vegetable mixture, and then stir in Greek yogurt
4. Last, stir in cilantro and top with salsa

 

 

#3 Cheesy Chicken Wrap
3

Ingredients:

1 spinach tortilla
1 laughing cow sun dried tomato cheese wedge
Sliced deli meat
Tomato Slices
Fresh spinach leaves
Any vegetables you may want to add

Directions:
1. Spread the Laughing Cow cheese wedge all over the tortilla
2. Layer fresh spinach leaves on tortilla
3. On one end, layer the deli meat, along with fresh vegetables
4. Slice in half and serve
#2 Turkey Chili Taco Soup
4

Ingredients:

1 1/3 pounds of 99 percent lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
10 ounces RO*TEL Tomatoes and Green Chilies
15 ounces canned or frozen corn, thawed and drained
15 ounces Kidney beans drained
8 ounces fat-free refried beans
1 packet reduced sodium taco seasoning
2 ½ cups fat-free low-sodium chicken broth

Directions:

1. In a large pot, brown turkey on medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When cooked through, add onions and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes

2. Add tomatoes, corn, kidney beans, tomato sauce, refried beans, taco seasoning, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes

3. Optional: Serve with a few baked tortilla chips and your favorite toppings such as low-fat sour cream, jalapenos, reduced fat-cheese, chopped scallions, and onions or chopped fresh cilantro. Freeze leftovers for individual portions for future meals.
 #1 – 5-minute Turkey, Avocado and Hummus Wrap

5

Ingredients:

1 Whole wheat tortilla
2-3 tablespoons red pepper hummus
3 slices low-sodium deli turkey
¼ Avocado, sliced
Pickle Slices

Directions
Spread tortilla with hummus, then layer on turkey, avocado, and pickle slices. Roll, and then slice.

 

 

Preparing for High School Varsity Soccer

To prepare for high school soccer the most important thing you must have to have is commitment. Soccer in general requires a lot of running, and if you really want to stand out you have to have stellar ball skills as well. Having stellar ball skills requires training with the ball every day! Personally I prefer to play a much more technical game than you would see in an English game. In my opinion, footwork is what makes a player a good player or a bad player. To develop such skills takes enormous amount of time so, Commitment is key! Your friends can be out there always having a good time but I have learned that to become a great player you have to sacrifice a lot of things including time with your friends. For instance, just the other day I was invited by hundreds of my friends to hang out with them and I really wanted to. I even argued with my father to skip my practice but he denied my request and I went to practice which upset my friends but I had a great practice and learned a lot. My dad taught me that day that sacrifices have to be made to become the best you can be! Now to get to the main point, although I will only be a little freshman next year at Oakton HS my goal is to play on The Varsity team which of course is only a stepping-stone to signing that 4.5 million dollar contract with FC Barcelona in the future. To prepare for such things I’m willing to sacrifice time from everyday of my summer to practice/prepare for Oakton next year. I am already practicing as much as I can at home outside of my practices with my team. I practice juggling, shooting, passing, coordination, and most importantly ball control. But with all this bad weather, I have not had as much valuable time in my yard so I have been left with doing what I can in my basement. In the future I will start training to increase my stamina by running. Also, I will need to start doing push-ups and lifting weights but you do not want to lift too much because you don’t want to become too big for the game. Having strength in your upper-body and lower-body is key to being a successful player, especially in my case. If I want to be a freshman on the Oakton Varsity soccer team I will have to be strong to play with older kids so I can avoid being pushed around like a ragdoll. Also, being as strong as I can be will help me kick the ball harder and run faster. It is also very important to have a lot of stamina because I will need to be able to keep up with the older kids for long periods of time if I want to do well. Fitness, Coordination, Ball-Control, Proper technique, and confidence are all you need to be a successful player in the long run but it starts today… you have to commit yourself to the game!

Favorite teams

Soccer is my favorite sport and my passion. I love playing it and I like to watch it sometimes. My favorite soccer teams are USA, Honduras, F.C. Barcelona and Brazil. I know that some of these are international teams, but I still love watching them play. I am also very excited to see the players from Barcelona on their world cup teams, playing against all these teams. My family and I are very excited for the world cup and will have our hands full with all of the games; it will be awesome.
USA is one of my favorite teams because it is my homeland, and I will always root for them. We may still have a long way to go in the eyes of the soccer world, but we have heart, tenacity, and the will to compete at any level of the world’s most popular game. USA has the respect of the world’s soccer super powers because we are prepared, fit, and well coached. Judging by USA’s game against Mexico recently, USA should be a dangerous factor in the FIFA World Cup in Brazil this year; hopefully they will go fairly far this year.

The next team that I have a passion for is Honduras. Honduras is part of the roots of my existence. My father was born there along with most of my family on his side. They always root for the blue and white. Soccer in Honduras is a religion. There is even a law that lets workers and students take off from work and school to watch there national team play. I also like the way Honduras plays because the players are very flamboyant like a peacock, passionate, and athletic. I hope USA and Honduras meet somewhere in the World Cup.

FC Barcelona is no doubt one of the best teams on the planet, proving this with their win against Real Madrid during the El Classico game. They have the 5’ 6”, magical, phenomenal Lionel Messi, who is one of my favorite players behind Ronaldinho. Messi is easily the best in the world. Of course others may argue about Ronaldo being better. Barcelona’s first touch rhythm is the best in all Europe. Other teams struggle to keep up when they play them. Most of the players on Barcelona, especially Neymar, have out-of-this-world skills which is why I like them. Barcelona is also very sportsman-like and is a good role model for other teams.

Last but not least I love Brazil and their style of play. They have produced some of the best players that ever lived like Ronaldinho, my favorite player in the whole world. Brazil is almost always favored to win when they play. They have the up-beat tempo and the footwork of samba dancers. When their foot skills and samba come together it makes their footwork insane. Watching them play is a thing of beauty, and when they mess up you hardly notice it. What I love about Brazil is that they exhibit all there love, passion, and talents with every touch on the ball.

How Do I prepare for my soccer games?

What you do before a soccer game can and will affect your results during the game. It all starts the night before my game. It is very important to drink a lot of water the day before so I am very hydrated for my game the next day. Sometimes, I practice with my team the day before. I think this can be really helpful because you get the chance to warm-up your touch. I also make sure that I am well rested for my game by going to bed at a reasonable time and getting at least nine hours of sleep. This is very important because, I have learned from experience that although exercise gives you energy, if your body is truly tired than you may not be able to play 100% and will not succeed in keeping your pace up with the game.

On game day it is very important to eat something light and non-dairy (milks, eggs, and cheese.) Also, you want to avoid meats like beef, hamburgers, sausage, and more. I know this because I have eaten foot longs from Subway with all meat before a game and it messed me up big time. Juice is very good for energy but not too much because it can cause cramps. Believe me, cramps can be very annoying during the game. Carbs are also a great thing to have pre-game but it is key to have enough time to digest your food, otherwise stomach aches can occur. Once I have eaten a good meal I double- check to make sure I have my uniforms (Red, White, Black). Personally, having three uniforms can be cool but it is very annoying because you have so many clothes to look after and be responsible for especially when you have a brother that has the same three. When I am in the car I love to listen to my music; music is a good thing because it gives you a rhythm to have in your head during your game. I like listening to some samba songs which are Brazilian because they have cool rhythms and beats.

When I get to the field I begin to warm up with my team we usually do a running drill, stretching, shooting, and possession. Of course, I am usually sore so, sometimes I stretch individually to loosen up those sores. Stretching and doing a proper warm up is very important so that you are loose and ready to go for your game. While you are sitting on the bench it is a good idea to stay warm by wearing coats, so when you go on you are warm. Finally, the game starts and since I am in two different leagues we have different times for how long the games are for EDP it is 40 minutes and for CCL it is 35 minutes. After the games our coach tells us what we did good and wrong and based on what we need to work on that is what we will do at practice during the week.

Staying fit alone and with friends

Fitness is one of the key components for soccer; if you’re not fit you will not do as well. Just in general, lack of fitness can result in diabetes and obesity. A lot of people have organized plans for their workouts. My friends and I do all sorts of things outside to stay fit or just to have fun. My favorite things to do with my friends are: play soccer, ride bikes, and play fun games. I have many more things that I love to do like swimming but those are just my top 3.

Of course to stay fit for soccer I play a lot of soccer with my friends. Whenever we can my friends and I play soccer at a field in Herndon, we stay there for hours at a time one time we were there form 11:30AM-7:30PM. When we go there to play, we play all sorts of games like keep away, World Cup, and mini-games. It is very beneficial for your ball skills because you play with so many people; you have to keep the ball close to your feet. Practicing this makes the ball become glued to your feet. I think this is good for staying fit because you’re running a lot which is good for stamina and you’re practicing your technique and developing good foot skills. All of these are very important components of soccer.

Another activity my friends and I participate in is bike riding. I also love to skateboard. My friends and I love to ride bikes all over the place especially to the Fox Mill shopping center and Franklin Farm shopping center. Biking is good to stay fit for soccer because you are building your strength in your legs by peddling. Often times, I like to peddle really hard on high gears because I go really fast but also because it builds muscle on my legs. In addition, riding really fast for long periods of time will increase your muscle and cardio endurance. Biking is also a good way to adventure and explore, to find new things.
Finally, we play all sorts of games outside for fun and to stay fit, like football, basketball, tennis, pole tag, and capture the flag, and sometimes infected. Pole tag, infected and capture the flag are my favorites. The way we play pole tag is someone is it and they have to stop all the other players from getting to the pole. However, when people get tagged they become taggers; we do this until there is one winner. Also, we prefer to play it at night because it gives better hiding spots. Infected is just like pole tag, accept without a pole. Before when we were younger we used to play this almost every day at school. Finally, the way we play capture the flag is there are two flags, one for each team. Each team brings their flag to a designated spot and the two teams try to get both flags. But, there are boundaries and when one person crosses them the other team can tag them, when they are tagged they go to jail. To break someone out of jail or you have to call a jailbreak. Each team only as one jailbreak per game. These games are great ways to stay fir because you HAVE to run. Also, these games are very great ways to have fun in the sun, proving that you can have fun and work on your fitness at the same time.

Ham and Egg Stir-fry

I love all sorts of foods but many of them I have no idea how to cook, like my favorite Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup, and a lot of them are not the healthiest. But one meal that I like to make myself is a stir-fry of rice, eggs, vegetables, and meat. This
is also very easy to make especially if you have left over rice, because sometimes rice takes a long time to cook. It is also one of my favorite things to eat when I come home from school or for a quick easy dinner.

The main thing you need for this recipe is rice. Rice is easily one of my favorite things to have in the world. I eat it with almost anything Steak, Salmon, Chicken, etc… I especially love rice noodles which are in my favorite soup, Vietnamese chicken noodle (Pho). Also, rice is also good for you. It is a carbohydrate which means it gives you energy, for soccer games or basketball games. White rice is not the healthiest kind of rice but it is one of the most common. Red rice and brown rice are two kinds of very healthy rice.

Meat is another ingredient for my stir-fry I usually use leftover steak, but you can us whatever meet you want for the stir-fry. I like to use beef rather than chicken because I eat a lot more chicken than I do beef. I also prefer well done steak, because I don’t like the taste of the juicy red meat, and when it is more cooked you do not taste as much fat as well, Also steak is an excellent source of protein which helps build muscle, and a good source of calories.

The final required ingredient is eggs. I love having eggs in my stir-fry because it goes well with the other foods in it, and it adds to the taste. When I prepare the eggs I usually use two scrambled eggs topped with salt and pepper. Or if you like the taste
of the yolk you can make them sunny side up that way the yolk mixes with the other foods for more flavor. Eggs are another great source of protein for your body with just the right amount of fat (5g). Eggs are very beneficial towards the body indeed there are
many reasons on the web why they are as well.

Once you have cooked/prepared all your ingredients together you just simply mix them together in a big bowl. But also if you have time you can add vegetables, I prefer cherry tomatoes (chopped) and lettuce. I’m not much of a tomato fan but I do like cherry tomatoes because I think they are a little sweeter than regular ones, and I love lettuce. Sometimes, I will add some crushed almonds as a seasoning and I like it because it gives the stir-fry something crunchy. Finally, Soy Sauce is something I recommend you add; it gives the stir fry the final burst of flavor. Hope you enjoy!

I work 40 hours per week as the marketing team lead for MECKids. I love my job, with that said; it is not uncommon for me to work overtime. To add to the equation, once a week I work part-time closing hours at my favorite store, Anthropologie. That’s a 17 hour day! By the time I get home its midnight and I am exhausted.

As a young professional in my early 20’s, I still do not have the luxury of eating out for lunch and dinner every day.  Truth be told, I really do not enjoy eating outside. It’s too pricey, you can never customize your meal the way you really want and all those extra calories do not make shelling out my hard earn money worth it.

My solution is quick lunches. I do not enjoy prepping for the week. I like the feeling of fresh made food, so I make things that I can prep, cook and clean up in less than 20 minutes.

My top 5 lunch meals

(images taken from here)

 

#5:  Burrito Salad
1
Ingredients:

1 ½ cups lettuce
½ cup brown rice cooked
1/3 cup black beans, cooked
1 cup tomatoes, onions, red peppers)
2 tablespoons avocado or guacamole
2 tablespoons salsa

Directions:
1. Place lettuce in large Tupperware container
2. Add rice and beans
3. Top with vegetables, plus salsa
2. Eat cold

 

#4 Southwest Chicken Quinoa
2

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ green pepper, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 pound chicken, cooked and diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups quinoa, cooked
1 cup low fat  plain Greek yogurt
½ cup cilantro
Salsa

Directions:
1. Sauté vegetables in olive oil until tender
2. Add the spices and chicken to the vegetable mixture and cook for 2 minutes
3. Combine quinoa and the vegetable mixture, and then stir in Greek yogurt
4. Last, stir in cilantro and top with salsa

 

 

#3 Cheesy Chicken Wrap
3

Ingredients:

1 spinach tortilla
1 laughing cow sun dried tomato cheese wedge
Sliced deli meat
Tomato Slices
Fresh spinach leaves
Any vegetables you may want to add

Directions:
1. Spread the Laughing Cow cheese wedge all over the tortilla
2. Layer fresh spinach leaves on tortilla
3. On one end, layer the deli meat, along with fresh vegetables
4. Slice in half and serve
 

#2 Turkey Chili Taco Soup
4

Ingredients:

1 1/3 pounds of 99 percent lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
10 ounces RO*TEL Tomatoes and Green Chilies
15 ounces canned or frozen corn, thawed and drained
15 ounces Kidney beans drained
8 ounces fat-free refried beans
1 packet reduced sodium taco seasoning
2 ½ cups fat-free low-sodium chicken broth

Directions:

1. In a large pot, brown turkey on medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When cooked through, add onions and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes

2. Add tomatoes, corn, kidney beans, tomato sauce, refried beans, taco seasoning, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes

3. Optional: Serve with a few baked tortilla chips and your favorite toppings such as low-fat sour cream, jalapenos, reduced fat-cheese, chopped scallions, and onions or chopped fresh cilantro. Freeze leftovers for individual portions for future meals.
 

 #1 – 5-minute Turkey, Avocado and Hummus Wrap

5

Ingredients:

1 Whole wheat tortilla
2-3 tablespoons red pepper hummus
3 slices low-sodium deli turkey
¼ Avocado, sliced
Pickle Slices

Directions
Spread tortilla with hummus, then layer on turkey, avocado, and pickle slices. Roll, and then slice.

 

 

 

 

Funny Wraps

Funny Wraps

By: Elizabeth Austin

We all have that picky little eater in our house. The one who sits at the table, arms crossed just staring at what seems like to them, the mountain of veggies and protein on their plate. Sometimes there is no amount of coaxing and begging and bribing to get them to take a bite. It is a battle not many of us can win. There is a simple way to get kids to eat those veggies without a fight. One trending way is blending veggies down to pulp and mixing them into things. What they can’t see won’t hurt them? Don’t get me wrong, this is a genius idea. My only issue with it is that they will never learn to love veggies if they never know they’re eating them. So if this is the route you would like to take, I recommend you not do it every single meal. Here some examples of how to hide veggies into a meal that your kids will love.

Squash and Pea Burger- Blend cooked peas and squash and add to ground turkey then shape into patties, cook as normal

Carrot and Zucchini Spaghetti- Cook zucchini and carrots, either blend and stir into sauce or chop very small and add

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese-Boil Cauliflower, butter, milk and mozzarella and blend, then serve over elbow noodles

Really there are thousands of ways to hide veggies. Let us know if you have a favorite way to hide veggies that even the pickiest of eaters enjoy.

I am stubborn and like to make a dish that is so fun to eat that it doesn’t even matter that veggies are in them but can still be seen.

One of my personal favorite lunches, or dinner on nights I don’t really feel like cooking, is Wraps. There are so many different variations, ingredients, sauces and ways to present wraps. They are a healthier alternative to sandwiches. I use whole wheat wraps. They are lower in calories (you only use one tortilla as opposed to 2 slices of bread per sandwich) and are packed with fiber. Many wraps are about 60 calories with about 10 grams of fiber.

So my favorite wrap is a turkey wrap. In this wrap I am going to thinly slice carrots and celery and add some lettuce. Depending on what I have, I use hummus or light sour cream instead of mayonnaise.

Caterpillar wrap

Caterpillar wrap

It is Easter so how about a Bunny Rabbit Wrap

It is Easter so how about a Bunny Rabbit Wrap

Remember, as long as kids are eating their veggies, it doesn’t really matter how you present them or choose not to present them.

Whole wheat wraps, turkey, hummus, carrots, celery and lettuce

Whole wheat wraps, turkey, hummus, carrots, celery and lettuce

Thinly slice veggies

Thinly slice veggies

Lay everything on the tortilla, roll tight and slice about 1 inch pieces

Lay everything on the tortilla, roll tight and slice about 1 inch pieces

 

So after you have cut, sliced, spread and assembled your wrap it is time to make it fun.

I shape the wrap pieces into fun shapes and designs. Here are two of my kids’ favorites.

Summer Kabobs

When I think of summer I think of grilling. I picture the kids running around the sprinklers, kiddie pools, water balloons. Outside eating is not always simple and getting the kids to stop playing to come inside to eat is not an easy task either. Food on a stick. No plates, no utensils, no table necessary. Kabobs are an all time favorite of mine. They are fast easy and can be extremely healthy! They give kids the energy to keep playing and the parents energy to keep up! Another reason I am so fond of them is the ability use different ingredients to match specific tastes. Darn picky eaters!! I swear mushrooms are delicious. But I digress. All you need is a protein, some veggies and a marinade. Grab some sticks, fire up the grill and Kabob-on!
For this recipe I used chicken and beef. The kids seem to like chicken more and my husband and I are red meat eaters. For the veggies I used mushrooms, onions and green peppers. The marinade was a simple pineapple teriyaki sauce.
Make sure you soak the sticks in a bowl of water for about an hour so that they do not burn on the grill or splinter when you start to assemble your kabobs.

Ingredients:

Half pound chicken breast cut into one inch pieces
One pound stew beef cut into one inch pieces
(can use any cut of meat, stew beef has worked really well for me and is sold already cut into pieces)
One green bell pepper cut into one inch pieces
One onion cut into one inch pieces
16oz mushrooms sliced
One bottle of teriyaki marinade
*Kabob Sticks

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Cut beef..the chicken was also cut into pieces this isze

Cut beef..the chicken was also cut into pieces this size

Onions
Onions

Bell peppers

Bell peppers

Yummy!

Yummy!

Don’t forget to soak your kabob sticks!

Don’t forget to soak your kabob sticks!

Marinade the chicken in the fridge for about half an hour. I chose not to marinade my beef this time. i just drizzled on the teriyaki once it was on the grill.

Marinade the chicken in the fridge for about half an hour.
I chose not to marinade my beef this time. i just drizzled on the teriyaki once it was on the grill.

Begin assembly! I start in a pretty pattern but then after a few, I just start throwing them together.

Begin assembly! I start in a pretty pattern but then after a few, I just start throwing them together.

They’re ready!

They’re ready!

Add your glorious creations to the grill

Add your glorious creations to the grill

Know your grill, learn where it cooks hotter so you don’t burn pieces or under cook the chicken

Know your grill, learn where it cooks hotter so you don’t burn pieces or under cook the chicken

The steak will be done before the chicken so keep and eye on them to not over cook

The steak will be done before the chicken so keep and eye on them to not over cook

Set out on a dish and watch them disappear

Set out on a dish and watch them disappear

Don’t you just love food that looks like art?

Don’t you just love food that looks like art?

This is a recipe that is tried and true in my house. Every family has different tastes. Shrimp would be great with these veggies. Or add some pineapple with the chicken for a sweet and savory kabob. Get creative with your food! Get your kids involved, ask them to come up with kabob recipes and see who’s is better. Remember not to let them handle raw meat

If you have a great kabob recipe enter it in the comments below!

 

 

Fun With Eggs

Easter is approaching. When I think of this fun holiday I don’t think of Easter Bunnies, I think of eggs. What a great thing an egg can be. There are Chocolate eggs, Caramel eggs and Plastic candy filled eggs. My favorite one though is a healthier kind. Hard boiled and Deviled eggs.
Eggs are a staple that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There are so many different variations and recipes that include eggs. It doesn’t have to stop with scrambled eggs smothered in ketchup (what my 2 year old would live off of if he could). But with the nutritional values an egg supplies there is no way to go wrong.
The list of viatmins that an egg has can help keep any growing kid healthy and full of energy all day long. Iron, Vitamin E and B12, Protein and more.

Calories 70 Cal / 292.88.kJ
Fat 5 g
Cholesterol 195 mg
Sodium 65 mg
Carbohydrate 1 g
Protein 6 g

My oldest son Travis has a love for Deviled eggs. He helps me make them, and we enjoy finding new variations and fun ways to present them. I substitute mayonnaise for low fat ranch giving the filling a creamier and more flavorful texture. We just made an Avocado Deviled egg that was the spotlight dish at a recent party. The avocado also was the substitute for the mayonnaise. Not only was the flavor incredible, the beautiful green color made it fun.
Avocado Deviled Eggs
12 hard boiled eggs
1 ripe avocado
1/2 finely diced red onion
1/2 of a lemon juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Boil eggs for 10 minutes
Let cool
Peel shells off, rinse to make sure there are no small pieces left.
Slice long ways
Scoop out yolks
Mix together yolks, avocado, onion, lemon juice.
Season with salt and pepper
Scoop mixture into Egg whites
*Optional-Fry some Turkey bacon, break and place a piece on each egg as a garnish. Avocado and Bacon? Yes please

avacado-eggs

To make things fun for my boys this year I have found some pretty amazing looking deviled eggs. I’m just not sure which one I am going to pick. The whole point is the food fun. If the kids enjoy eating it then it doesn’t matter how healthy you made it. Get them involved in the cooking process. Make it a race to see who can peel the eggs the fastest. When they become involved in what they’re eating, they are proud and want to make sure it is the best it can be. Teaching kids at an early age what is tasty and healthy it will stick with them as they grow. Good habits do stick.

So here are the two contenders for this years specialty Easter egg. Let us know which is your favorite and we’ll post which we made.

Bunny Eggs These I like because of the veggies that are added (carrots and celery)

Bunny Eggs

These I like because of the veggies that are added (carrots and celery)

Chick Eggs These I liked because they are so darn cute. I would use a carrot for the beak and raisins for the eyes.

Chick Eggs

These I liked because they are so darn cute. I would use a carrot for the beak and raisins for the eyes.

Easter

There seems to be a different holiday every month that revolves around giving candy. Valentine chocolate hearts, Christmas stockings filled with chocolate Santas, and don’t get me started on Halloween. Easter is yet another wonderful holiday that has been sucked up into the commercial candy giving dark hole. Regardless, I personally cannot deny my boys brightly colored plastic eggs filled with candy. What I can do though is fill them with fun and healthier treats.

easter-egg

Instead of filling with chocolates and peeps I am going to fill them with treats like fruit snacks and nuts. Pretzels are a good snack that would fit into the eggs. Little crackers, yogurt bites, raisins and other dried fruits would be a great alternative. It is all based on your and your kids tastes. If you nostalgic like I am, and you like more traditional routes that’s fine too. There are sugar and fat free jelly beans. Or just skip the plastic eggs all together. Hard boiled eggs are the original Easter egg and I personally feel like that should have never changed. Finding the eggs they took so much time to decorate is something that cannot be replaced.

egg-healthy

I am also going to place numbers in the eggs. Each number will give the kids an opportunity to pick a fun treat for after dinner like frozen yogurt. At the end of the day, kids just want to run and play and will be happy finding eggs regardless of what is in them.  Even though kids love candy, months after the holiday is over, there is a full bowl on the counter that no longer gets touched. There really are so many little chocolate eggs that someone can eat without getting sick of them. If you fill the eggs with healthy treats,

Making a game out of an Easter egg hunt is also a way to get kids moving. I’m thinking about setting up a treasure hunt. Making a map of the yard will get the kids to different check points. Making them jump rope, hula hoop, do jumping jacks or dance before they can continue on to the next part of the yard where more eggs will be hidden. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Little treats like a puzzle is also something that can be put into eggs. Separate them and add one piece to each egg. They’ll have fun putting them together after the hunt is over.

I hope that you have a fantastic Easter. Let us know what you did to make your celebration healthier. Be proud of old traditions and add your own spin to them to create new ones.

Banana Muffins

My kids love cupcakes. I am not such a big fan. Something about the frosting maybe? Or flashbacks to hundreds of cheesy birthday parties. Anyway, regardless of my taste I still need to ensure my kids don’t over indulge. That doesn’t mean we don’t still get yummy treats. My family personally loves muffins. It is actually a Sunday morning tradition for us. These are great for lunch, dinner and dessert. One of our favorite flavors is banana. The natural sweetness that is in an over ripe banana cannot be beat. This is my favorite banana bread recipe. You can cook it in a bread pan but shouldn’t more things be cooked in cupcake tins? They make everything more fun and the kids feel like they’re indulging in something special.

Honestly the hardest part of this recipe is buying the bananas and keeping them around long enough in order to actually cook with them. One big bunch lasts us only a couple days.

My son Travis loves helping me make these. His favorite part is smashing the bananas. We use a potato masher. Hope you and your family loves these delicious muffins as much as we do.

Whats your favorite kind of muffin?

Whats your favorite kind of muffin?

1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large bananas, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter melted
1 tbs vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350.
Mash bananas, mix dry ingredients and add to wet with bananas.
Pour into cupcake tins.
Bake for 20-23 minutes
Let us know what kind of muffins your kids love. And let us know what kind of treats you substitute for not so healthy desserts.
This recipe can also be used with blueberries, raisins..etc.

How to be a MECKid: 5 Fitness Tips for Healthy Happy Kids!

What does it mean to be a MECKid? We’re here to Motivate, Educate, and Connect kids across the nation to becoming health and fitness champions, and we want to see you reach your optimal health! Here is our recipe for health and fitness success that we encourage children and families to practice daily in building healthy, happy lifestyles!

Being fit involves a well-rounded balance of nutrition, physical activity/exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. When you’re fit, your body works at it’s best, feels good, and can do all the things you want to do, like run around with your friends and family!

Some steps parents will make, such as serving healthy meals or taking the family on a nature hike. There are also many ways kids can take charge in enhancing their health and fitness, too! Here are five rules to live by, if you’re a kid who wants to be fit!

Eat a Variety of Super Foods

You may have a favorite food, but the best choice is to eat a variety of super foods, such as fruits and vegetables daily. Maintaining well-balanced nutrition is essential to receiving your daily dose of vitamins and minerals, so shoot for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day — two fruits and three vegetables.

Here’s winning combination that is sure to add great fun and flavor to every meal:

  • breakfast: ½ cup (about 4 large) strawberries on your cereal
  • lunch: 6 baby carrots
  • snack: an apple
  • dinner: ½ cup broccoli (about 2 big spears) and 1 cup of salad

Drink Water & Milk

When you’re really thirsty, cold water is the best thirst-quencher. And there’s a reason your school cafeteria offers cartons of milk. Kids need calcium to build strong bones, and milk is a great source of this mineral. How much do kids need? If you are younger than 9 years old, drink 2 cups of milk a day, or its equivalent. If you’re older than 9 years old, aim for 3 cups of milk per day, or its equivalent. You can mix it up by having milk and some other calcium-rich dairy foods. Here’s one combination:

  • 2 cups (about half a liter) of low-fat or nonfat milk
  • 1 slice cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup (small container) of yogurt

If you would like to drink something other than milk or water once in a while,  it’s OK to have 100% juice, as well. But try to limit sugary drinks, like sodas, or fruit punches because they contain a lot of added sugar and empty calories.

Listen to Your Body

What does it feel like to be full? When you’re eating, notice how your body feels and when your stomach feels comfortably full. Sometimes, people eat too much because they don’t notice when they need to stop eating. Eating too much can make you feel uncomfortable and, over a period of time, can lead to unhealthy weight gain.

Limit Screen Time

Studies have shown that excessive screen time spent watching TV or DVDs, and playing video games,  increases childhood obesity rates and less active lifestyles. Try to spend no more than 1 hour a day on screen time, not counting computer use related to school.

Get Moving, Exercise and Be Active!

You Gotta MOVE! Whether your passion is karate, kickball, basketball, football or running, you can enhance your fitness goals by moving everyday in your very own favorite way! Ask your parents to help you do your favorite activities regularly. Find ways to be active daily. We encourage you to enroll in your favorite school sports team or write down a list of recreational activities to schedule for after-school fun. You can even track your daily exercises and calories burned with us at www.meckids.com to enhance your health, fitness and nutrition everyday! Tracking your fitness activities daily is important to measuring your progress and success. When you register with MECKids online and track your fitness activities,  you can score cool prizes that keep you healthy, happy and moving!

This is how you can become a healthy, happy MECKid! Be sure to share these these five fitness tips with your family and friends and get ready start moving towards reaching your very best health! GO MECKids!

MECKids Spring Into March With 30 Day Fitness Challenge!

Calling all fit kids and families! March is here and what better way to jump-start Spring than with a new fitness program that will keep you healthy, happy and moving this year! We’re kick-starting the month with an exciting 30-Day Fitness Challenge that will keep you MOVING with great fun and fitness! Studies have shown it takes 30 days to form a new habit, and our fitness program is designed to help shape healthy habits that will form a healthy, happy and balanced lifestyles. So gather your friends and family, and let’s get MOVING!

How to Win:

1.  “Like” our Facebook page, and “Follow” our Twitter page, where a new exercise challenge will be posted daily.

2. Post your fitness photos and videos to our pages everyday with hashtag #MECKidsChallenge to automatically enter to win!

3. Once you finish each daily exercise and post your photos/videos, log your results and calories burned onto our website at www.meckids.com to track your progress.

4. Keep moving,  tune in and WIN! We will be reposting all fitness photos/video submissions onto our Facebook page to spotlight all participants, and the top three winners of our 30 Day Fitness Challenge will be featured on our website!

There will be TONS of awesome prizes in store for all of our winners! We applaud all of our fit kids and families for joining us on this fun fitness journey to reaching your very best health! We can’t wait to see you MOVE!

Ready, set GO MECKids! #YouGottaMOVE!

 

Stamped Post Workout Cleanser!

Greeting Stampees!  You won’t believe what I’ve found while perusing the internet.  I actually came across a cleanser that is made for post-workout.  Due to the oil build-up and sweat from working out, our skin often overloads and lands us with a ton of acne.  Well, this might be the answer to our skin enemy!   The name of this cleanser is: Stellar Performance Post Workout Cleanser.  This cleanser promises to infuse your skin with antibacterial, powerful antioxidants, astringents and moisturizing properties while leaving your skin extremely clean without dryness.  I haven’t used this product personally, but I plan on it for these reasons:

  1. No synthetic or petrochemicals. No exthoxlates, formaldehyde donors, parabens, dyes, or artificial fragrance
  2. Inhibits your skin’s radiance and keeps you worry free from post workout skin concerns
  3. Removes deep down debris from sweat that clogs pores and causes dullness
  4. Detoxifies, nourishes and hydrates skin
  5. Helps cure acne caused by exercise. *For acne, use on a daily basis twice a day for a week for noticeable results.
  6. Removes stubborn make-up *If you must wear make-up during a workout this cleanser is highly recommended as your post workout cleanser.
  7. Helps prevent athlete’s foot
  8. Suitable for all skin types including sensitive
  9. Will not dry skin with frequent use
  10. Approximately 4-5 month supply (8oz)

 

cleanser

Yes, we need to work out, but it’s an added bonus to look fabulous while you’re doing it.  Be sure to check Medica’s Steller Performance Post Workout Cleanser today.  This is a sure win to add to your gym bag.

 

You’ve been Stamped!

XOXO,

O

www.stamponstyle.com