Tag Archives: Healthy Eating

The Nutrients You’re Not Getting

The Nutrients You’re Not Getting

This is a guest post by Shannon White, the choreographer of the MECKids Dream Team.

Every once in a while, the government comes out with a study letting us know that we are not getting one (or many) of the key nutrients we need in our diets. Then comes the subsequent panic: What are they? Who can remember all of those, and better yet, what foods can you get them from?! Never fear… the most AWESOMEST healthy snack list is here!

Photo From: www.hsph.harvard.edu/

Here is what you’re not getting— And how to get it!

  • Calcium is needed to build and maintain strong bones (dairy products, leafy green veggies, fish with bones)
  • Fiber keeps us regular, helps you lose weight, stay full longer and improves your health (fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains)
  • Magnesium helps keep your blood pressure normal, keeps your bones strong and keeps the heart beating rhythmically (nuts, seeds, bran, halibut and other fish)
  • Potassium acts as an electrolyte that maintains your body’s fluid balance and keeps many of the body’s organs in good condition (potatoes, tomato paste/puree, white beans, yogurt, soybeans, bananas)
  • Vitamin A plays a major role in bone growth, reproduction and a healthy immune system (orange veggies, leafy green veggies, organ meats)
  • Vitamin C protects against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease and skin wrinkling (fruits and veggies, red/green peppers, kiwis and guavas)
  • Vitamin E helps fight the signs of aging, protects the skin from sun damage and lowers skin cancer risks (some cereals, some oils, almonds, peanut butter)

Now it’s time to get your (healthy) snack on! Be sure to sign-up for our newsletter to receive healthy recipes and snack ideas right in your inbox! Click here to join our list today!

What are some of your favorite healthy snacks? Please share in your comments!

bite size veggies

Why Cooking With Kids is Beneficial

bite size veggiesThis is a guest post by Stephanie Lomax, a personal chef in the Washington Metropolitan area.

In today’s hectic world planning out healthy meals for your kids on top of all your other responsibilities may seem like a daunting task. On top of that getting kids to eat healthy food may seem impossible. Cooking alongside your children can actually prove to be a rewarding and practical solution for both you and your children!!!

You’re a busy parent working on a high stress, fully packed schedule! Taking care of your children is a job in itself but if you work outside of the home you may find yourself exhausted at the end of the day!After a long, tiring day your children run to you and frantically ask “What’s for dinner?! I’m HUNGRY!” As a parent you are left with a challenging decision. You ask yourself: “How can I find the time to cook a delicious and nutritious meal on top of everything else?” or “Should I pick up some quick easy fast food?”. Neither option seems like the best choice. Well don’t worry, there is a better choice!

Cooking meals with your children may seem like it only adds challenges to a tough dilemma. However, with simple meals and a little bit of prep ahead of time the benefits can outweigh the challenges! Here are 5 benefits to cooking with your children and some simple ways to plan meals to cook with your kids.

Benefits:

  1. Teach kids the importance of healthy eating and give them tips to implement even into adulthood. With the right cooking coach they can learn to avoid prepared foods, fast food and see the importance of healthy eating from a young age. Kids are also most likely to appreciate foods they typically wouldn’t eat if they were a part of the preparation process.
  2. Keeps kids busy. If you’ve ever tried to multi-task watching children and keeping them from mischief while try to prepare a meal then you understand the importance of this! Instead of hearing “He hit me!” or “I didn’t do it!” keep your children right by your side and give them productive work to accomplish.
  3. Turns kids into successful adults. The skills learned while preparing meals can be used in all aspects of life even outside the kitchen! Cooking instills skills like teamwork, attention to detail, responsibility, time management, and motor skill development.
  4. Works out better for you in the long run. Imagine coming home to a nice, delicious, meal already prepared and waiting for you. Imagine it being prepared by your own children! If children are trained from a young age by the time they reach their pre-teen years they can become quite independent in the kitchen!
  5. Quality time! This is a phrase that may sound cliche but there really is something to it. Cooking with your kids allows you to get to know your children in a non-threatening, peaceful environment. Observe their work habits, exceptional skills and guide them into success! When you’re cooking talk to your children and really listen as they tell you about the things that excite, worry, or frustrate them.

Tips:

  • Cut vegetables and fruits in bulk and store them in the refrigerator ahead of time so they can be easily assembled when dinner time rolls around.
  • Incorporate a variety of fun colors, shapes, and flavors. If food looks fun, bright and fresh kids will be more likely to get excited about eating healthy.
  • Reinvent healthy alternatives to your child’s favorite meals! Examples: “Wheat-zza’s” (wheat pizzas) using wheat pitas or fresh noodle stir-fry chock full of vegetables instead of prepared noodle soup.
  • Give kids age appropriate tasks to complete. Ages 2-5 can stir, pour, and count food items placed in a dish. As they develop give kids more challenging responsibilities such as measurement, sifting, and proper knife and stove use (with supervision).

Try the kid friendly recipe below!!!


Wheat-zzas (Pita Pizzas)

A healthier alternative to a kid favorite. This recipe uses wheat pita bread and a semi-homemade veggie marinara sauce.

Ingrediants

  • 6 pita rounds
  • 1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)
  • 1/2 cup shredded vegetables (try zucchini, carrots, or mushrooms)
  • A handful of fresh baby spinach
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella
  • Toppings of your choice ( try incorporating your kids favorite veggies or use traditional toppings like pepperoni and sausage)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile in a small saucepan combine the tomato sauce and shredded vegetables of your choice and bring to a boil. Turn the stove down to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Warm pitas in the preheated oven or in a microwave for 1 minute, or until soft. Place them on a baking sheet. Spread lightly with tomato sauce, pressing to flatten while spreading.
  4. Layer pitas with first with fresh baby spinach, then with cheese, and last the toppings of your choice.
  5. Place pitas in the preheated oven 8 minutes, or until the pita bread has reached desired crispness. Serve whole, or cut into slices.

What the kids can do:

Kids 6 and under can help mash the warm pita, spread sauce, and sprinkle cheese. Older kids can mix the shredded vegetables with the tomato sauce, shred the vegetables (with supervision) and assemble their own pizzas with less supervision.


Stephanie is a freelance personal chef located in the DC metropolitan area and she specializes in meal prep. If you are a busy working professional, a parent, or a fitness enthusiast then you can benefit from her. She will meet with you to discuss your needs and food preferences and then she will prepare meals fresh for you in the comfort of your own home! Contact Stephanie at stephlomax0392@gmail.com for more information on her services.

Happy National Nutrition Month!

PrintHappy National Nutrition Month MECKids! This month marks an annual celebration of nutrition education sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In recognition of this delicious and nutritious campaign, we will be featuring weekly blogs and healthy recipes that highlight this year’s theme of what “Enjoy the Taste Eating Right” means to us and the importance of making  informed food choices and developing sound nutritional habits!

As the largest health and fitness community designed just for youth and families, MECKids believes that practicing healthy eating habits and daily nutrition at a young age is the key to shaping a healthy, balanced, fruitful lifestyle throughout a lifetime.  Eating clean  and green also fortifies our bodies and helps to combat health issues such as childhood obesity. We “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” by nourishing our minds and bodies with the tasty treats found in nature’s very own garden- fruits and vegetables! Rich with vitamins and minerals, these super foods deliver great flavor, bountiful benefits and are amazingly fun to eat, as well!

Today’s healthy, fun and flavorful recipe is for Apple Sandwiches! Apples are a great source of vitamin C, A and fiber and these wonderful nutrients promote great heart health.  It’s true what they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, so it green and enjoy this delicious fruit snack!

Ingredients:

* 1-2 apples cut into rings970199af107f462d69d24f6e983ff9ec

* almond  or seed butter

* raisins

* granola

Directions:

* Spread almond or seed butter on one apple ring and place chocolate chips on top of butter.

* Sprinkle raisins with granola and top with a second apple ring to make a “sandwich.”

Yummy! Eat clean and Enjoy!

What Do The People Think About Metabolism

Many people hear the word metabolism used in common health conversations such as, “I have a very high metabolism.” or “I have a very low metabolism.”  Even though we often use this word almost everyday do we really know what it means and its relation to both weight loss and weight gain?

Metabolism is the energy used for your body to function , including burning calories and breaking down food.  A calorie is the amount of energy a food or drink provides when you eat it.  Your body’s metabolism is constantly burning a continuous amount of calories to provide energy needed.  Healthy foods help your metabolism regularly perform its function and fatty, greasy foods slows it down, this may cause people to become overweight and obese.  This explains the common beliefs about fast and slow metabolisms.  Metabolism is based on body composition, the greater percentage of muscle, the higher the metabolism.

Children have a higher metabolism than adult because children are more physically active than adults and their bodies burn calories faster.  Their metabolic system can be easily shaped since they are young and it can also be affected by growth hormones and puberty.

In conducting interviews with people and their thoughts on metabolism I learned that people really don’t have an understanding of what metabolism really is.  “Hmm, I guess I can say that metabolism is what fuels the body,” said James Mickens, security guard for Martin Luther King Jr. Library.  He added there should be more recreational center activities for the kids and more programs to get them moving.  “It is a regulatory device used to burn fuel,”  said librarian Liane Rosenblatt.  Each of these interviewees agreed that children of this generation are less likely to have a high metabolism because they aren’t as active as they used to be when they were children.  “Look at the kids today, sitting around with all this social media; they need to get outside,” Rosenblatt added.

In my opinion, its all about knowledge and awareness.  The more adults and teenagers that are aware of health issues and what can be done to prevent them, the more children will want to participate and be more healthy.  Also, children should encourage each other to be more physically active so that they can have high metabolisms and healthy diets.  Since it is summer time children can take group trips to the pool and play team sports that everyone is familiar with.  Making their own healthy snacks like apple slices, and carrot sticks with peanut butter is an alternative instead of spending money on junk food.  Older kids can encourage younger children to use technology in a positive way such as looking for resources to get kids engaged in other activities than watching t.v.and playing video games.

Student Ambassador: Tameka Evans

Do You Want Fries With That?

The Happy Meal; specifically targeted for children is a quick and easy meal that puts a smile on every kids face and a hush to the mid-day tummy growls.  The Happy Meal has been sold at McDonalds since 1979 and continues to sell at a whopping one million per day in the United States alone. Happy Meals, depending on the combination of food and drink can be about 400-600 calories per meal.  “As a result, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled since 1980 — today, 16 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight or obese. An additional 15 percent of kids are at risk of becoming overweight or obese” reports NBC News.  At this rate parents and kids should start finding other alternatives for a quick and easy meal.

Its not only Happy Meals that have America’s kids becoming obese by the second, sweetened cereals such as Cap’n Crunch and Cinnamon Toast Crunch contain empty calories and food colorings that have been linked to irritability and behavioral problems in children.  Sunny D and Hawaiian Punch only contain 5% juice, one cup is the equivalent of eating a dozen Chips Ahoy cookies; might as well grab an ice cold cup of sugar.  Last but not most definitely not least are Hot Pockets; the pepperoni stuffed frozen sandwiches.  One serving yields 735 calories and a heart stopping 1,352 milligrams of sodium.  The only pros of these food and drinks are the cheap market value and easy preparation however, the easy route isn’t always the best route to take.

As a solution to settling for unhealthy foods, explore new options.  Instead of unnatural, preservative filled breakfast foods try fresh fruit and a lightly sweetened whole grain cereal with a glass of orange juice or 2% milk, and for a midday snack grab some frozen yogurt or pita chips with hummus.  Dinner Time should be a joyful occasion to sit down and enjoy a satisfying meal with family and friends.  Have everyones input in the kitchen for healthy choices.  Make a rainbow colored salad and slice some lemons for a baked salmon and wild rice dish.  Instead of ordering a pizza decorate and bake your own.  Healthy eating should not be a choice, it should be a lifestyle that you follow everyday.  A lifestyle that you feel good about and that can put you on the pathway to a better you.  Now for what its worth, do you really want fries with that?

 

  • “Happy Meal.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 May 2013. Web. 09 Sept. 2013.

  • “How Many Happy Meals Are Sold Each Day in the United States?” Questions & Answers. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2013.

  • “The 20 Worst Kids’ Foods in America.” Msnbc.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2013.

  • “Calorie Counter.” Calories in Hot Pockets Hot Pockets Pepperoni Pizza Stuffed Sandwich Frozen. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2013.

 

Student Ambassador: Tameka Evans

 

MECKids Goes Green at The White House Gardens!

Lettuce, kale, spinach, broccoli and more… these are just some of the greens that MECKids adores! These and many more delectable legumes can all be found on the South Lawn of the White House,  beautifully arranged in it’s ornate gardens with a host of delicious and nutritious vegetable varieties. MECKids had the wonderful pleasure of visiting the White House Gardens this month, and experiencing a grand tour that walked us through colorful landscapes that told a beautiful story of our nation’s Presidential history.

We were truly inspired by the walking tour which featured many illustrious landmarks, including the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden and South Lawn of the White House. We were especially thrilled to observe the many crops found in the vegetable garden, that inspires healthy eating and living for youth and families across our local and global communities. Mrs. Obama planted the vegetable garden in 2009 to help launch the Let’s Move! campaign, an initiative to end childhood obesity, encourage healthier lifestyles and more physical activity for children. The 1,100-square-foot garden is the largest and most expansive vegetable garden to date on the White House lawn. It features 55 varieties of fruits and vegetables, including garden Swiss chard, arugula, potatoes, wheat, radishes, cilantro, garlic, fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and herbs, along with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and even an apple tree!

This year, the First Lady planted lettuce and other crops in her garden on the South Lawn of the White House, with assistance from students from Washington Metropolitan Area school districts and around the country, as well. To date, the garden has produced over 3,000 pounds of food, a large amount of which The White House donates to local area soup kitchens and The Food Bank Organization. Mrs.Obama  has placed great emphasis on the vegetable garden movement to encourage children to increase healthy food choices in effort to prevent childhood obesity and diet related health issues affecting the nation. The Obama’s vegetable garden is a wonderful example of community-orientated sustainable gardening and it’s positive effects on the betterment of the health of our nation, as a whole.  MECKids applauds the Obama’s efforts towards childhood obesity prevention and healthy living. We are truly honored to observe the White House Gardens and inspired to advance Mrs.Obama’s Vegetable Garden initiative by encouraging children to nourish and enrich their lives, every healthy meal at a time!

In the spirit of going GREEN, MECKids wishes youth and families around the world a very Happy Earth Day and recognizes the Obama’s sustainable vegetable garden model as a resource for healthy eating and living. In recognition of Earth Day, we encourage families to Spring into action with your very own community garden, and begin planting fresh fruits and veggies that will contribute to the overall health of our local and global communities.

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Click Here to View More Photos of the Beautiful White House Gardens in our Photo Gallery!