Archive for November, 2008

10 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips – for Kids


  1. Try to keep kids on the same eating time schedule – serve meals and snacks at the same time your family usually eats, throughout the holiday season.  Kids will be less likely to fill up on sweet treats and refuse to eat meals if they have their regular meals and snacks.
  2. Feed kids a meal or a substantial snack at home before going to a holiday gathering.  That way you know they ate something healthy and you won’t stress about the amount of cookies and snacks they are eating at the party.
  3. Instead of the high sugar and fat holiday drinks served this season, make and serve a sparkling fruit punch.  100% juice and sparkling water mixed together with some frozen fruit floating on top makes a great holiday drink.
  4. Don’t keep soda and other sugary drinks in the house.  If you are hosting a party, buy these at the last minute.  Kids will want to drink what is available and if soda is in your house – that is what they will want first.
  5. Make fruit and vegetable dips with low-fat or non-fat yogurt instead of sour cream.
  6. If you are hosting a party, let your kids make one of the appetizers.  Even let them decide what it will be such as English muffin pizzas, graham crackers drizzled with honey, etc. Label it as your child’s creation and everyone will love it.
  7. When planning your holiday meal, research some new and yummy sounding vegetable recipes.  You and your family are more likely to try something new at a holiday meal when other familiar favorites are also on the table.
  8. Let your kids eat their treats.  Go easy on yourself and your kids and enjoy the holiday desserts.  Having a cookie or treat regularly during the holiday season will help you and your kids avoid binging on them all at once.
  9. Share a plate with your child when eating at a restaurant.  Avoid kid’s menus – with their limited selection of chicken nuggets, fries and cheeseburgers.  Choose a meal together with your child or choose a meal you know your child will like and share it.  This will keep you from overeating, as well.  We all know that restaurants serve more than one serving of food!
  10. Get outside time every day this winter – weather permitting.  Choose the right amount of clothing, hats, scarves and mittens and you and your kids can have some fun outside and stay warm.  Even if it is just for 15 or 20 minutes.  Staying warm burns calories!  Outside time also gives kids good appetites.



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‘Tis the season for buying toys for our little ones.  We have choices beyond belief and strong guidance from our little receivers.  My son, like his father when he was young, meticulously reviews the toy catalogs and circles everything he wants.  That way, there will be no mistake in what will be under the tree.  From this list, it becomes my challenge to choose and properly assign toy selections to those who will be giving him gifts.  A major consideration I have in choosing is to include what I call, active toys.

The experts agree that kids need at least one hour of active free-play every day and at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity.  I consider free play as play that allows kids to safely move their bodies in any way they want.  Structured physical activity includes activities where kids are learning skills like how to kick a ball and how to catch and throw. Most kids embrace the opportunity to run and jump whenever it is given to them.  Some kids need encouragement to be active. My son falls somewhere in the middle.  Some days, getting him to settle is my goal and other days, I have to encourage him to move.  I have found that having a selection of active toys makes the encouragement easier.  Therefore, when a gift giving opportunity arises, I always make sure that my selections include toys that require him to move.

Active toys can accomplish both goals of encouraging free play and teaching important movement skills.  Toys like balls, tricycles or bicycles, sleds, jump ropes, bean bags, hula hoops, building blocks and even sidewalk chalk all promote movement or physical activity.  

The benefits of physical activity are many.  Who does not want a child that is ready for bed at night because they are tired from playing?  Kids who are physically active:

maintain a healthy weight, 

feel good about themselves, 

develop strong minds and bodies,

develop important movement skills and coordination. 

 Also, being physically active early in life makes it much more likely that physical activity will always be part of a person’s life.  Believe it or not, some kids do not naturally learn movement skills like hopping on one foot, skipping, or walking backwards.  Teaching kids these skills will make them much more comfortable in wanting to participate in future sports.

When looking at toys this season or for any gift giving opportunity you have, consider whether or not the toy you are looking at will require kids to move.  Choose active toys.  Kids and parents both will thank you!

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Winter Squash


The growing season here in Ohio is pretty much over, except for greenhouse grown produce items like herbs, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes.


However, there is one locally grown produce item available during the winter months that is a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and disease-fighting antioxidants.  It is the winter squash.  There are a number of types of squash that fit under this heading.  Here are just a few:

  • Acorn – acorn shaped; dark green, orange or beige skin
  • Butternut – elongated bell-shaped; beige skin
  • Spaghetti – oval shaped; yellow skin


Nutritionally speaking, squash is low calorie, high fiber and a good source of vitamins A, C, B, E, magnesium and potassium. The yellow and orange colors of squash indicate that there are powerful antioxidants ready to work in your body to fight chronic disease.  In whole foods, the combination of vitamins C, E and the antioxidant beta-carotene work together to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.  Lowering bad cholesterol reduces your risk of heart disease.


Try this recipe as a side dish for your next meal.  The beauty of this recipe is the apple filling.  If trying acorn squash is new for you and your family, the apple filling should sell the dish and make it at least worth a try. Another bonus is that you get a fruit and veggie all in one side!


Maple Roasted Squash with Apple Filling

          Serves 4


2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise.  Remove seeds with a spoon.

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 teaspoons butter

4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 apples, cored and diced (skin on)

1 teaspoon fresh or dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley), optional


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place the squash cut-side up on a baking pan.  Season insides with salt and pepper to taste.


Place 1 teaspoon of butter and ½ tablespoon of maple syrup into the bowl of each squash half.  Add the apples and sprinkle the herbs over the top.


Roast until tender about 1 hour, or until nicely browned, spooning syrup from the squash bowl over the top of the apples about every 20 minutes.


          Recipe source:  © 2005 Elaine Magee



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