Tag Archives: Healthy Habits

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.

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

 

How to Stay Healthy and Fit

By Da’Quan Givens, MECKids Blog Ambassador

Stop with your bad habits, the other ones you might be able to just reduce. Habits in the “quit” category would be smoking, drugs, unsafe sex and other unhealthy addictions. There’s just no way to do any of these in a “healthy” way. It might take some time, but it’s worth it if you want to lead a healthy lifestyle. There are some habits that are not so bad, but can easily become a problem if taken too far. These include alcohol, sugar, caffeine, and junk food. Get your check up, get to your doctor for your annual physical just to make sure you are in your best health. If you have insurance, usually these services are covered, so take full advantage of your benefits. That being said know your own body so that you are aware when something seems awry. Get exams regularly even if you are healthy, so that if and when something is abnormal, you know. Sleep affects our physical and mental health tremendously, and many of us do not get enough. Lack of sleep adversely affects metabolism, mood, concentration, memory, motor skills, stress hormones and even the immune system and cardiovascular health. Sleep allows the body to heal, repair and rejuvenate itself in a way it simply cannot when a person is awake. Even if you just get out for a walk a few times a week, exercise is important for being fit and healthy. Cardiovascular exercise helps to strengthen the heart and lungs, while strength training helps to strengthen the muscles and stretching helps to reduce the risk of injury by increasing flexibility. Exercise also improves circulation and body awareness, and regular exercise can help with depression.

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Ever Heard of NCCPUD?

Ever heard of NCCPUD? National Capital Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking? If you haven’t, shame on you! Just kidding.

Not only am I a MEC Kid ambassador but I am also a NCCPUD advocate. At NCCPUD we endorse healthy lifestyles by not only preventing underage drinking and unhealthy activities such as smoking and drinking, but also by showing them what they could and should be participating in instead. Some activities would include joining organizations such as NCCPUD and MECKids which can help you engage into wonderful positive activities, as well as staying active. These events influence teens to understand that a positive lifestyle is the better way to go. Keeping your body fit does not only mean eating healthy and staying active but also maintaining a positive lifestyle that will create a better future for you.

Also remember the healthier, the better!