Easy Snacks for Kids to Eat at School or Home

Easy snacks for kids.

Coming up with quick and easy snacks for kids can become an arduous task as your children grow up and become bored of the snack options at home. However, there are a wide range of choices available when it comes to putting together snacks for kids, some of which can even be prepared with their participation. Here are some simple snacks for kids that will tickle their taste buds and provide them with the nutrition they need for growth.

Get Creative with Healthy Options

Interesting salad bowls, open sandwiches, and frozen yogurt are just a few examples of delicious, filling, and healthy snack options. Salad may not sound very appealing, especially to a child who is accustomed to junk food; however, you can always blend fun elements such as colored fruit and vegetables in order to attract their attention. In the same way, easy snacks such as frozen yogurt combined with a variety of chopped fruit would make excellent after school snacks since they are both a snack as well as a dessert option.

Try to create snacks for kids that are mostly healthy, as it will help them to develop a taste for healthy food as opposed to unhealthy food in the future. Some healthy easy snacks that you can have fun preparing with your child include open sandwiches with grilled turkey and cheese, which your child can help make; a fun way to involve them in the snack-making process would be to let them decorate their sandwiches with condiments.

Indulge Once in a While

It is okay to treat children to easy snacks that are not high on the nutrition factor once in a while. Kids will constantly crave the less healthy snack options, and rather than depriving them of their treats, it is okay to let them indulge once in a while with easy snacks that are tastier and incorporate more flavor.

There are ways to add a healthy twist to the most popular and simple snacks for kids. Slider burgers and pizzas are universal favorites and can easily be made healthier by incorporating whole wheat bread and pizza base, and fresh vegetables for toppings rather than processed meat.

By balancing the kind of snacks you feed your kids, you are not only enabling them to lead healthier lives, but are also helping them in developing a taste for making healthier meal choices as they grow older. By enabling them to participate in the snack preparation process from a young age, you are also enabling them to become more independent when it comes to making their own meals.

5 Powerful Spices and Herbs to Increase Metabolism

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When you’re trying to get healthy, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest of fad diets, exercise tools, and the like that can cost you a lot of time, money, and leave you feeling frustrated. Thankfully, with the modern spread of information, it’s a lot easier to research and find which things work for people so that you can reach your health goals. The primary focus of this article is to reveal a few powerful spices and herbs to increase metabolism and improve health.

Ginseng

This famous herb has been associated with energy and metabolism for 2000 years. Its presence in tea has made ginseng tea a favorite among people looking to promote a more energetic lifestyle, and studies have shown that ginseng can greatly help with weight loss if consumed every day for a sustained period. Ginseng was also found to have a favorable effect on insulin sensitivity, making it a good choice for people who deal with diabetes.

Turmeric

Turmeric is a staple ingredient in Indian cuisine, which is notoriously spicy-and health-enhancing. This powerful spice contains anti-inflammatory properties, which may reduce arthritis symptoms and improve other chronic inflammatory conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, also helps to burn fat, promote proper metabolism, aids digestion, and corrects bile deficiencies and excesses.

Cayenne Pepper

In the last few hundred years, there have been a number of tonics that have employed the use of capsaicin, the active or hot ingredient in cayenne pepper to help treat various ailments. Today, science has uncovered more of the specifics in the way that we can use this powerful agent to reduce caloric intake, shrink fat tissues, and clean the vascular system. Research has discovered that it can stimulate thermogenesis, which is the process of metabolizing fats to generate heat. In fact, the Global Healing Center mentioned that eating hot peppers, such as Cayenne, can increase your metabolism by as much as 25%.

Cinnamon

People have had a strong love of cinnamon for quite some time due to its festive flavoring and associations with holiday time, but this powerful spice has many other advantages. Research has shown that cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels substantially, in addition to increasing glucose metabolism by more than 18 times the regular amount. This means that it helps to make your metabolism more efficient, which is also ideal for people who have diabetes or might be close to becoming diabetic.

Mustard

People tend to think of mustard as simply a condiment, but it’s been shown that less than a teaspoon of mustard seeds can increase your metabolic rate 20 -25% for several hours after eating, which could result in roughly 50 calories being burned per hour.

If you use these herbs and spices for weight loss on a regular basis, you will gradually see and feel the difference in your overall health and well-being.

 

Make Exercise and Good Nutrition a Family Affair

Family exercising together.

Have you ever noticed that it’s much easier to stick to a exercise or diet plan if you have someone in the trenches with you? Have you ever been the person eating carrot sticks and celery while watching someone else eat fat-drenched carbs with sugar on top? Why not make exercise and good nutrition a family affair?

Get Rid of the Junk Food

Starting with food, which is often the most difficult part of the willpower bandwagon, if the whole family is working on eating healthy foods, you can just keep those sinful temptations out of the house. Consider avoiding the junk food aisle all together and purchasing healthy alternatives for snacks.

Whole grain crackers, pretzels, yogurt, string cheese, nuts, apples, carrots, celery, kale, berries, bananas and other fruits are healthy alternatives that often cost less in the long run and are chock-full of vitamins, dietary fiber and low in calories and fat. Experts recommend placing the healthy alternatives at eye-level in the cupboards or refrigerator so that the healthy items are the first thing a person sees when they look for a snack.

Look for Healthy Alternatives to Family Favorites

If your whole family is working on good nutrition, you can look for healthy alternatives to your favorite dishes. Enjoy baking? Often substituting pumpkin or applesauce for the butter or oil can work well in muffin, cake or brownie recipes. It replaces the fat, adds flavor and vitamins and is an easy swap.

Use cooking spray instead of high calorie oils in your cooking, and add more green leafy items, more vegetables and fruits to your meals, which can make a big difference as well. Does your family enjoy spaghetti dinners? Consider swapping the heavy pasta for lighter alternatives – spaghetti squash is a vitamin-rich alternative. Eight minutes in the microwave, top with your favorite marinara sauce and you’d hardly know the difference. Yet the difference between them is huge — 31 calories in spaghetti squash versus 158 in spaghetti per serving.

Family Fitness

Why head out to the gym on your own if you can bring the whole family? Often a gym will offer a substantial discount for a whole family membership, and many gyms even provide childcare and play rooms for smaller children. Older children will enjoy shooting baskets, running around the track, and your pre-teens and teens will enjoy learning to use the weight machines and free weights.

Exercise doesn’t have to stop at the gym. Gearing up for a 5K? Why not register the spouse and kids as well? They’re likely to be there to cheer you on anyway, but if you’re all in it together you can prep for it together and eat healthy in preparation together.

Maybe you’re not a runner. Family walks after dinner are a nice way to wind down and hear about each others day. Weekend hikes, skiing, biking or paddling trips are excellent ways to commune with nature and create memories your kids will have with them forever.

What is the best thing about involving the whole family in healthy eating and exercise? Making healthy choices now will make all of you healthier in the long run and will help to establish wonderful fitness and eating habits in your children that they will continue throughout their lives. Studies show that children who are active do better in school, have more confidence and even do better on some tests. With the multitude of benefits for everyone, why not get everyone involved?

 

Simple Nutrition Secrets for Surviving the Holidays

Protein-rich_Foods

Photo credit: Smastronardo CC BY-SA 4.0

You need to consume more protein to burn fat. Protein isn’t just for building muscle. It’s for burning fat, too. A good way to keep holiday weight gain at bay is to greatly increase your protein intake over the holiday season. While protein helps build and preserve muscle, it also helps to control your appetite as well as boost your metabolism.

Eating more protein to burn fat was confirmed in a study published in the American Journal of Physiology. One group was fed a high protein diet (just over one gram per pound of body-weight per day) while the second group consumed a protein diet near equal to that of the RDA.

The group eating the high protein diet burned more fat than the group consuming protein near equal to the RDA. One reason for the ability of protein to burn fat could be an increased “thermic” effect. The thermic effect of the RDA group was elevated 16% after eating. However, in the high protein group the thermic effect increased a lot after eating, almost 3-times that of the RDA group. This thermic effect of digesting your food peaks approximately one hour after eating.

By adding more protein to each meal, you increase your metabolism. Your body requires more energy (i.e. calories) to process protein than it does carbohydrates.

So go ahead and indulge a little in those high protein holiday foods such as the deviled eggs, shrimp cocktails and of course the holiday turkey!

Here are some good protein-rich food sources:

  • Whey protein
  • Eggs (Deviled during the holiday season)
  • Egg whites
  • Chicken breasts
  • Turkey breasts
  • Lean beef
  • Fish (tuna, salmon, shrimp cocktail)
  • Protein bars
  • Egg protein powder
  • Casein (cottage cheese)
  • Milk or Almond Milk

Post-Workout Shake:

A post-workout shake will help you get the right protein and the right carbs at the right time – immediately after your workout. You can prepare your post-workout shake before you hit the gym, stick it in a thermos and take it with you to store in your locker.

Simply choose your favorite whole food protein shake or whey protein shake, add a cup of frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), and then mix in a blender. You can alter how much of the powder and fruit you use to get the appropriate number of calories you want as well as shake thickness.

Or, you can try this version of the fat-burning post-workout shake:

Add 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups of orange juice, a scoop of your favorite protein shake, one serving of creatine, and then finish with a cup of frozen fruit. You can alter this any number of ways to suit your taste buds. You could add banana, or even some yogurt, which will also make the shake a little thicker in its consistency.

Want to indulge in some of those great holiday treats like pie? Instead of having it after a big holiday meal, save the dessert for post-workout. Have a serving of a good whey protein powder with water for your protein and then have that piece of apple or pumpkin pie.

Happy Holidays!

Yummy Vegetable Recipes will Encourage Your Kids to Eat Healthy

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Preparing yummy vegetable recipes for children is not as arduous a task as it is made out to be, especially since there are considerable options pertaining to the varieties of cuisines and seasonings available in the market. Vegetables for kids are considered to be less tasty as compared with the processed, high-fat food available, so the way in which to win over a fussy child is to make their vegetable dish fun, creative, and as tasty as the junk food they crave.

Stick with Their Favorites

Vegetable recipes that are based on the child’s favorite food will encourage them to eat more of it. If your child is particularly fond of a particular meal, consider making a vegetable version of it with the same flavors used in the original dish, but leave out any oil, fat, and other unhealthy accompaniments that you can.

For instance, if they like macaroni and cheese, you could come up with your own yummy vegetable recipes based around the dish and include whole wheat macaroni, a variety of vegetables, and less fattening varieties of cheese.

If your child is a fan of burgers, you could construct your own healthy version of them by layering lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, and coleslaw between multigrain buns, and adding a vegetable patty or using lean turkey burgers as opposed to a beef patty. This dish served with sweet potato fries will look exactly like a fast food meal, but will be much lower in calorie content, and will contain at least two servings of vegetables.

Vegetables for Kids will be Eaten Faster When they Look Good

Kids will be more likely to form a lasting relationship with vegetables and other healthy foods if they are presented in a manner that is fun and aesthetically pleasing. There are plenty of yummy vegetable recipes available that will help vegetables taste delicious.

Adding fun and simple touches to meals, such as decorating a salad to make it look like a smiley face or their favorite cartoon character, is likely to please your child and will enable him or her to enjoy their healthy serving of vegetables rather than forcing them to eat boring, uninspiring meals.

It is okay to offer them a few condiments on the side, such as limited servings of ketchup or mayonnaise, but it is also a good idea to introduce them to the more healthy condiments such as mustard. Introducing your child to a healthy and balanced diet early in life will ensure that they are getting their daily nutritional requirements and will enable them to avoid obesity and other illnesses as they get older.

Health Benefits of Breakfast: 3 Reasons Not To Skip Your Morning Meal

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How many times have you woke up in a hurry, got ready, and rushed out the door without a second thought to eating breakfast? We’ve all been there and have suffered the consequences when mid-morning hits and we are starving and ready to eat the first unhealthy thing we come across. Avoiding this trap and making breakfast a part of your daily routine can not only add to the success and productivity of your day, but also begin your path to a healthier lifestyle. Here are just a few benefits of this important daily meal.

Increased energy level – You will find that by eating a healthy breakfast your energy level is much higher throughout the day. You will be more productive and less inclined to eat that unhealthy bag of chips calling your name. Breakfast provides the right kind of nutrients our body needs to get through the day and be the best version of ourselves. We will be much more likely to focus on productivity when we routinely give our bodies the fuel it needs to carry on.

Weight Control – It’s been said that those who tend to eat breakfast in the mornings are more likely to lose weight or simply not weigh as much. That being said, it makes sense because we don’t find ourselves bogged down with those nasty cravings that come with not eating anything in the morning. We tend to make healthier choices throughout the day when we aren’t starving and looking for anything to satisfy us. You need breakfast to get give your metabolism a boost so you can burn more calories throughout the day.

Happier and Healthier – Eating breakfast routinely every morning will not only start you on the path to a healthier life but also cause you to have a better, happier attitude. We are mentally and physically able to focus on things that matter when we give our bodies the right kind of nutrition. This means staying away from sugar and caffeine and consuming more whole grains, dairy, and fruit. Studies have shown that people who skip breakfast tend to be grouchier throughout the day. When you deprive your body of the fuel it needs, it affects all aspects of your life.

There are huge benefits to getting into a routine each morning and eating a healthy breakfast. This one meal sets the tone for the entire day and our mood and physical well-being is affected by it. You will not only be more productive but your overall health will improve by just making a few changes to your daily routine. Rather than rushing through those early morning hours give yourself a little more time in the morning to plan a healthy meal. The success of your day depends on how you start it out.

 

 

3 Healthy & Delicious Fruit Desserts That Will Have Your Kids Begging For More

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When you think of the word “dessert” what comes to mind?

More than likely you immediately think of pies, cakes, cookies – all the unhealthy things that most people associate with the word desserts. But did you know there are healthier versions available? And healthier doesn’t mean boring and bland! Things like fruit desserts can be healthy, full of flavor and a great way to help ensure that you and your family are getting more fruits in your daily diet!

What exactly do these desserts have to do with getting more fruits into your daily diet?

First, if you have a hard time getting picky eaters to snack on plain fruit, these desserts offer a delicious flavorful alternative to eating it plain. Sometimes all it takes to get a picky kid to eat fruit is to add it to something else and label it a dessert. After all, what kid doesn’t like dessert? And two, sometimes eating fruit is just plain ole boring and fruit desserts add enough variety and more flavor to ‘spice’ things up.

Want to try it on your own kids? Here are three quick and easy fruit desserts that are healthy and packed full of flavor and are sure to have your family asking for more! And best of all, you can give them more knowing it’s healthy and helping them get more of the vitamins and minerals they need that fruit provides.

Fruit Dessert Recipes

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
(Makes about 4 servings)

1/2 cup sugar
1 package (16 ounces) unsweetened strawberries
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

In a food processor, add the sugar and strawberries. Pulse until chopped coarsely. Slowly add the yogurt and lemon juice with the food processor still running. Process until smooth and serve immediately.

Banana Bites

1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 large bananas
Coconut flakes

Tear a decent sized peace of wax paper off and put on counter top (or working surface). Cut bananas into bit sized chunks. Heat the peanut butter and chocolate chips in microwave (about 1 minute). Dip banana pieces until well coated. Sprinkle coconut flakes on them and let harden (about 1 hour).

Broiled Pineapple

1/2 lb. pineapple
Nonstick cooking spray

While preheating oven, coat broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Core pineapple and cut wedges lengthwise to make 8 spears. Put pineapple spears on broiler pan and cook for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tender. You can even serve this with a dollop of vanilla ice cream if you wish.

As you can see, from the three recipes shared, fruit desserts are a quick and easy way to ensure that you and your family are adding more fruits to your diet. Another way, not mentioned in the recipes above, to make a fruit dessert is as simple as putting some berries in a bowl and adding some cool whip on top.