Healthy Holiday Habits For Families

Healthy holiday treats

The winter season is a time for celebrating with friends and family, indulging in tasty treats, and a few well earned days of relaxation. However, as the holidays approach and winter continues, your kids will have extended time off school, the days will be short, and more than likely they’ll be spending more time indoors. Additionally, families tend to eat heavier comfort food so staying healthy is difficult this time of year. Typically from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, the average weight gain is 3-10 pounds. While this may seem insignificant, it could result in future health problems and the development of bad habits. But don’t panic! If you’re looking for healthy holiday tips for kids there are plenty of ways to encourage your child to keep the treats to a minimum, keep activities high, and everyone’s stress low.

Healthy Holiday Treats

Treats featuring fruit, veggies, or high protein foods are a perfect alternative to snacks saturated with sugar or fat and are a great way to keep kids healthy during celebrations. Keep your holiday meals filled with plenty of vegetables to keep your calorie counts from getting too high.

In addition, keep an eye on portion size as holiday meals tend to encourage overindulgence. Make sure your children are eating appropriately sized meals, snacks, and treats.

Regular Meal Patterns

The holidays can be hectic for everyone, but keeping your kids’ meals as regular as possible is vital to preventing overeating and overindulging. Avoid eating less to indulge more in a holiday favorite, keep your meals regular so you can still enjoy some of your holiday favorites without eating too much.

You may also want to consider involving your children in the meal prepping process. Let them help in selecting healthy meal recipes and get them in the kitchen to learn how to prepare their own food. Teaching them about healthy eating habits at a young age will leave a lasting impact on their overall health and self-sufficiency.

Stay Active

This doesn’t mean you need to hit the gym for two hours with your kids in tow — there are plenty of ways to keep the whole family active without involving free weights! Winter weather offers plenty of outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy including:

– Ice skating
– Ice hockey
– Snowball fights
– Building snowmen
– Sledding
– Skiing/Snowboarding

Don’t let the cold weather keep your family cooped up in the house, get outside and make sure everyone gets to burn off some energy.

If the weather is not ideal for playing outside, get creative with some indoor activities. Avoid screen time as much as possible so your children still get plenty of exercise. Here are a few ideas:

– Cook holiday meals together
– Plan a scavenger hunt
– Play a board game
– Build a fort
– Play hide and seek
– Do chores together

Get Plenty of Rest

Sleep and taking time to relax is always important, but the stress and excitement of the holidays can take an extra toll on you and your family. Getting enough sleep will keep the whole family happy and healthy as you begin the new year.

However, make sure your kids aren’t sleeping in too much during winter break. Ensure they wake up around the same time each day so going back to school won’t be a huge shock to their system.

Enjoy Yourself!

This time of year is magical and festive for all, and it’s especially important to remember to treat yourself. Don’t let the stress of the holidays keep you from relaxing and celebrating with loved ones. Kick back and enjoy a hot mug of cider by the fire and watch your favorite holiday film or read your favorite book. It’s a magical time of year, after all!

Looking for a way to stay active this season while also giving back to your community? Check out our blog on holiday volunteer opportunities for families.

Healthy Fall Treats: Apple Cider Health Benefits

apple-cider

Fall is on its way! In addition to the beautiful leaves, pumpkin patches and trick or treating, the fall season brings about a cornucopia of yummy snacks. Nothing could be more enjoyable than snuggling up in a warm blanket with a hot mug of apple cider on a crisp fall day. However, with the more health conscious trends happening in food and drink production one may ask, is apple cider healthy?

Continue reading “Healthy Fall Treats: Apple Cider Health Benefits”

Healthy Kid-Friendly Fall Recipes for the Whole Family

Fall is a spectacular time of year to capitalize on fresh produce. Vegetables like sweet potatoes, zucchini, squash, and cauliflower are wonderful editions to any mealtime – adding a nutritious boost to keep you and your family full and healthy. Here are some of the benefits of each of these delectable ingredients, and some recipes that your whole family will enjoy!

healthy kid friendly recipes

Sweet Potatoes

These power packed root vegetables make a spectacular side dish or addition to any main course! Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin A to promote healthy blood sugar levels, support eye health, and even provide anti-inflammatory properties. Not to mention, they’re delicious! Here are some healthy kid friendly recipes featuring sweet potatoes that will keep everybody happy.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

  • Sweet Potatoes (3 large should feed a family of 3-4, add more for larger families or larger servings)
  • Corn Starch
  • Coconut or Olive Oil

*This recipe varies based on the amount and size of the sweet potatoes you use.

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  • Wash and chop your sweet potatoes into shoestring fries
  • Place fries in a large zip lock bag, ensuring that you have enough space that the fries can move when the bag is shaken – if you do not have this space, use two bags.
  • Spoon a small amount of cornstarch into the bag(s) and shake. Repeat until fries are evenly coated – not caked – in cornstarch.
  • Now, spoon a small amount of oil (if coconut, melted) into the bag and shake to coat. Start slowly. You do not want to saturate the fries, simply coat them so that the cornstarch can no longer be seen.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake for 40 minutes, flipping fries after 20 minutes.
  • Let cool – a little – and enjoy!

If you’re looking for a great way to incorporate this veggie into your morning meal, check out this recipe for sweet potato pancakes! You won’t be disappointed.

 

Zucchini

Full of healthy fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, zucchini is a vegetable option you can’t beat. With high levels of vitamins C and B6, as well as potassium and phosphorous, zucchini provides health benefits ranging from reducing cardiovascular diseases to helping prevent cancer. Plus, this vegetable can be substituted into your kids’ favorite meals to create healthier versions that still taste amazing.

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium size zucchini
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • ½ c. shredded parmesan reggiano cheese
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 c. pizza sauce
  • 1 package pepperoni, optional

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Slice zucchini in half length-wise.
  • Using a melon-baller or spoon, scoop out the inside of the zucchini halves and set aside.
  • Finely chop half of the leftover zucchini insides – save the other half for later meals.
  • Add chopped zucchini, oregano, basil, thyme, olive oil, and ¼ c. of parmesan to a medium bowl and mix.
  • Drizzle small amount of olive oil along the inside of the scooped out zucchini boats and layer the bottom with pepperoni – if desired.
  • Next, layer the pizza sauce, chopped zucchini mixture, and the remained cheese on the boats.
  • Place on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Let cool – slightly – and enjoy!

For another kid-friendly favorite, check out this recipe for zucchini noodles!

 

Butternut Squash

One of the best sources of vitamin A outside of dietary supplements, Butternut squash is a delicious and nutrition packed vegetable that can be served in a variety of ways that your kids (and you!) will enjoy. Full of fiber, antioxidants, and minerals like zinc, iron, and calcium, this vegetable will help protect skin health, eyesight, and overall immune function.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 12 oz. package of pasta (macaroni or pasta of your preference)
  • 1 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion – diced
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • ½ tsp. curry
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper – to taste

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut butternut squash in half, seed and set on baking sheet skin side down.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until the skin can be easily pricked with a fork.
  • While the butternut squash is baking, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook your pasta.
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes, then add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Scrape squash flesh from skin and place in a blender. Add garlic, onion, curry, thyme, and broth. Puree until smooth.
  • Return the puree to the skillet over medium heat. Add pasta, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined and dish.
  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

For another easy and delicious kid-friendly butternut squash recipe, check out how to make butternut squash soup.

 

Cauliflower

A good source of vitamin C, K, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, and more, cauliflower is one of the healthiest cruciferous vegetables you can eat. Because of the vitamin and mineral make up of this veggie, it supports several essential systems within the body, helping to detoxify and reduce inflammation, and even reducing the risk of several cancers. This versatile food is a fantastic addition to a variety of dishes including:

Cauliflower Tots

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. cooked cauliflower florets – finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • ½ c. onion – minced
  • 3 tbsp. fresh parsley – minced
  • ½ c. sharp cheddar cheese – grated
  • ½ c. seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • non-stick cooking spray

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients.
  • Spoon 1 tbsp. of the mixture into your hands and roll into small ovals (tot shapes!). Place on baking sheet and bake for 16-18 minutes, flipping the tots halfway through.

If you’d like to make a healthier pizza for your kids, try this recipe for cauliflower pizza crust!

A ‘Pear’-fect Fall Snack

Pears are perfectly in season this September, which provides a fantastic snack and meal option for families with picky-eaters. Not only do pears taste amazing, but because they are chalk full of vitamins, phytonutrients (nutrients that come from fruits and vegetables), and antioxidants they offer many significant health benefits!

pear-fect fall snack

Pears are a good source of:

  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin C
  • Copper
  • Pectin (water soluble fiber)
  • Potassium

 

These vitamins and minerals, in combination with a host of phytonutrients make pears an inflammation-fighting powerhouse that has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. With its mild taste and easy digestibility, pear is an outstanding choice for people of any age, even infants!

 

Here are some of our favorite, kid-friendly pear recipes for the whole family to enjoy:

Cinnamon Baked Pears:

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10-12 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients –

  • 4 pears, halved and skinned
  • 4 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/3-cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Baking Instructions –

  1. Place pear halves in a baking dish
  2. Brush pears generously with butter
  3. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon
  4. Bake 10-12 minutes, or longer if pears have not warmed through
  5. Serve and enjoy!

 

Spiced Pear Baked Oatmeal:

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25-35 minutes

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients –

  • 2¼ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1¾-cup milk (or almond milk)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3-cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup diced pears (about 1 pear)

Baking Instructions –

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Combine oats, spices, and baking powder in a mixing bowl
  3. Beat the egg in a second bowl. Then stir in milk, vanilla, and syrup
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold in the pears
  5. Grease a square baking dish. Pour oatmeal into the baking dish and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until set and beginning to brown
  6. Serve immediately, or let cool and cut into 6-8 pieces if you want to freeze them

 

Crescent Roll Pear Turnovers:

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients –

  • 1 can sliced pears, drained or 1 lb. of fresh pears sliced
  • 1 can crescent roll dough
  • 2 tsp. butter, melted
  • cinnamon sugar, to taste

Baking Instructions –

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Unroll crescent dough, separating into 8 triangles (keep matching pairs together)
  3. Place 1 or 2 slices of pear in the center of one dough triangle
  4. Cover with matching triangle and pinch closed along the edges
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have four turnovers
  6. Brush melted butter over the tops and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar
  7. Place turnovers on parchment paper and bake for 11-15 minutes, or until golden
  8. Cool and serve!

 

Or, if you don’t feel like making anything, simply slice, serve, and eat! Mixing these healthful fruits into your family’s diet is a fantastic way to keep everybody healthy and happy.