TOP 5 TIPS FOR LESS SUGAR ON HALLOWEENOct. 22nd

Halloween-Witch-1

Here are 5 Tips for saving our kids from Scary Sugar Stories on Halloween, without being a bad “Witch”. Truthfully, I’m dreading bringing this up, talking about SUGAR on Halloween? The most poorly received public presentation I ever made was talking to a corporate group about office culture and nutrition, bringing up how sugar creates health problems and how the office should not allow employees and solicitors to populate the break room with sugary delights. Not only were there crickets in the room but the glares I got for the rest of the week drove home how sugary rituals are part of the joy people took in their workdays. So, please allow me to spare you the details of why we want to limit the sugar in our diets for another day (or by special request) and merely provide a small pitch and resources to help make Halloween time a less sugary event, should that be on YOUR list of priorities.

Events

EVENTS – Many community centers, churches, and organizations have events designed to be fun alternatives to trick or treating. Having the kids wear themselves out in bounce houses, bobbing for apples, playing games for prizes, etc… may just wear them out enough to make Trick or Treating a smaller part of Halloween rather than the main event, or eliminate it altogether. To find events in your area, google Halloween events in your city or county, or contact a local news provider.

Switch WitchSWITCH WITCH –  If “trick or treating” is the absolute favorite activity and does produce prodigious amounts of candy, consider using a “Switch Witch” approach Just remember to set up the story some days before Halloween. You can also call it the “Candy Fairy” if your children are scared of witches and don’t like the thought of her creeping into their houses while they sleep. You can either dump all the candy or let your child keep a few of their favorites and get rid of the rest.

Candy Trading

 

 

CANDY TRADING   some dentists offices accept candy trade-ins for little prizes and send the sweets as little gifts to our troops overseas. My 5 year old did ask the question “if sweets are bad for us, why are they good for the troops?” I think my answer mentioned that they’d only be getting a few pieces each so it wouldn’t send them to the dentist’s office straight away with a cavity, but it would nicely remind them of being a kid again.

Sugar Substitues

 

SUGAR SUBSTITUTES – If you are motivated to bake, there are many sugar substitutes that taste great hidden in cookies and other treats, and are far less harmful than refined white sugar. Also, if you are supplying treats for your community party or for trick or treaters, consider giving out glow sticks or other party favor toys instead, most small children will like them even better than edible treats and you and your kids won’t be tempted to sample the goods.

Learn MoreLEARN MORE about the effects of refined sugar on children’s bodies and why too much candy can be harmful to their health. Do it together and make a game of learning more, and let them teach you, too, so everyone will respect the decision to limit sugar in the family diet. For small children short and sweet explanations work best, like “it gives us tummy aches or gives us tooth aches”, and as children get older, invite them to watch a documentary like one that we recommend: Katie Couric’s “Fed Up”. 

Guest Post: 5 ideas to get us out of a lunchbox rutOct. 12th

HeartSandwich

When we think of school lunches normally food items such as a sandwich, mini pizza, cookies, a pack of juice come to mind. These are what usually form the lunch box of a child. Why is that so? Mainly because they are convenient and children like them too. No preparation time is required, saving you time and effort, and all you have to do is pop them in your child’s bag. Children also love you for that. But are parents really doing a favor to their kids by giving them such items for school lunch? Not really. Not only are these highly processed but they also contain high levels of sodium, preservatives and sugar, making them unhealthy. School canteens also do not always have a variety of healthy options available. Besides, it is better for you to pack homemade lunch for your children rather than giving them money to buy something from school. Not only will that ensure that the food is hygienic and nutritious but it will also save loads of money over time. Since most kids are unaware of the health hazards of unhealthy food, it is up to you to provide them with nutritious meals and help them eat healthy.

Last night’s leftovers

No, there is no hard and fast rule that school lunches can only include chips and cookies. Last night’s leftovers will work just fine. Did your child love the meatballs from last night? You could make some extra and maybe add some rice with it. There you have a healthy lunch ready and something that your child would be eager to have. You could prepare chicken chunks, make chicken and egg spread for a sandwich, fry or bake boneless fish. There are plenty of options for you to consider. Just make sure to pack everything properly to ensure freshness and safety. You could use a thermos for warm food. Include reusable utensils and cloth napkin for ease.

Fruits and vegetables

Pack them such that they can be eaten easily. A child would prefer sliced apples and oranges rather than a whole one. The downside is that they would turn brown by lunch time and your child would rather skip them. Use lemon juice on them to avoid that. Bananas could be given as they are. A bag of grapes is also a good idea. Rather than buying jams and jellies from the stores, you could prepare these at home. The ones available in the supermarket contain very high sugar levels plus preservatives. Some children tend to prefer smoothies over eating fruits. If your child is one of them, you could skip on whole fruits and instead prepare a fruit smoothie, with maybe just a small portion of some vegetable, like spinach. Believe me they would not be able to spot the difference. The best part is that this could be prepared the night before and frozen.

Dairy products

Smoothies are a good way for your child to consume dairy. If not, you could give them the small tetra packs of milk available in the market. Another option is yogurt that you could freeze at night and it would be ready to be eaten by lunchtime. You could add fruits to the yogurt to make it more appealing to a child’s palate. But while you are working on adding dairy to your kids’ diet, think about choosing organic dairy products. You will be doing a favor not only to your children but also to the environment. Factory farms are still injecting artificially produced hormones into cows that make them give more milk. This is not natural and definitely not healthy for you, your children, or the cows. Opt for organic milk even if it costs slightly more.

Grains

How can you incorporate grains in your child’s lunch? Whole grain or whole wheat bread should be preferred over white bread. Prepare rice cakes at home and sprinkle them with fruit syrup or maybe peanut butter to make them more appealing. Whole grain crackers are also a good idea and you could also include cheese in the lunch box to go with them. Making cookies at home of whole grains, such as oatmeal raisin cookies instead of the usual chocolate chip, will add nutritional value to their desserts. 

Proteins

Meat does not necessarily have to be a part of your child’s diet to get them to take in protein. If they do not like it, do not fret. There are alternatives. Egg is a great source of protein, and packaged perfectly for on the go. Hard boiled eggs are easy to prepare and eat. Nuts are also good for lunch or snack time. You could prepare chicken salad or a tuna sandwich if they are into these.

Final thoughts

Children who have healthy, well balanced lunches are better able to concentrate in their class than those who go for the less variations. So there is another reason you should ensure that your children are being supplied with a healthy lunch box. There is also the issue of food allergy to consider. If a certain kind of food does not suit your child, it is best to have their lunch packed from home. Kids may not be as careful about their food choices even if you have instructed them about it beforehand. It is better to be safe.

Author Bio:

Batool Ali is an international blogger who loves to write on different disciplines such as Health, lifestyle, fashion, finance and education.

A More Sustainable Lunch Continues….Oct. 8th

Today’s entry focuses on how to reduce waste and packaging when it comes to the lunchbox. In our featured video, Lily shows us not only what the contents of her lunch look like but how it is packed.

  • reduce, reuse, recycle may be words that seem over played but they really cut to the basics and are in the right order of operations. If you are striving for a more whole foods diet for health reasons for example, you will have the bonus of reducing plastic and cardboard packaging that are ubiquitous in the processed food aisles of the grocery store. You may also be using more bulk foods, which will prompt you to have glass or tin containers to hold your bulk foods, and nearly completely eliminate plastic containers and throw away boxes. Instead of grabbing a box of “insert comfort food here” you may learn how to make more things from scratch, one recipe at a time replacing such things as granola bars and cookies and turning them into secret power foods with nut butters and coconut sugars instead of processed sugars and empty calories.
    • DO THIS MORE: Bulk foods are now widely available

bulkaisle

 

AND LESS OF THIS: health food stores have attractive and tempting packaging!

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Sometimes it is easier to get kids on board than to “sustain” sustainability, so we want to hear about your “reduce” and “reuse” hacks, including containers, bento boxes, lunch bags, etc… especially home made and low cost options. Here’s a great read on high quality sustainable and safe lunch boxes, Here’s some wild ideas from a sustainable restaurateur to cut your food waste, including how to tell if your eggs have gone bad, and some pretty wild ideas on how to eliminate packaging in your kitchen or pantry.

Coming soon, a guest blog on healthy lunch ideas, organic and humane products, local and home grown produce, and recipes galore!!

Natural Ways to Cure Kids’ Coughs and ColdsApr. 1st

As Winter melts into Spring, the sniffles and allergies are sure to bloom in your family. Here are some natural ways to cure your family’s illnesses…

When your child falls ill with a cough or cold, it may be tempting to reach for over-the-counter remedies to relieve their symptoms. But whilst these can offer some relief, they can’t prevent colds or shorten their duration, and many have side effects. Used for anything more than a few days, they can make your child’s symptoms worse, and some government experts have questioned their safety. So what are the natural alternatives?

Rest

When your child falls ill, make sure they get plenty of rest as this helps their body to focus its energy on fighting the virus. Give your child an extra pillow as this will help the nasal passages to drain so that they can breathe more easily.

Fluids

Your child’s body will be producing more mucus than normal, and this uses up moisture. By drinking plenty of fluids, not only will they stay hydrated but the mucus will be thinner, making it easier for them to blow it out or cough it up. Make sure that they avoid any caffeinated drinks as these can make dehydration worse.

Resource: Fun kid-friendly soft drink recipes

Warm drinks

Warm drinks help to ease your child’s symptoms by loosening the mucus as the warmth passes down their throat. This makes it easier for them to cough and soothes the inflamed membranes. Offer your child soups, hot chocolate, warm lemon water with honey or decaffeinated tea and coffee to relieve their discomfort.  

Chicken soup is an old-fashioned cold remedy that you might have heard of and there is some research that suggests that it does actually work. It is thought to act as an anti-inflammatory, inhibiting the movement of the most common type of white blood cell that defends against the infection. Although some are sceptical, it is fair to say that giving your child warm chicken soup will certainly help to loosen their mucus, if nothing else.

Resource:  Cold fighting soup recipes that are children friendly – from Eating Well Magazine

Steam

Steam works like warm drinks, loosening the mucus and relieving stuffy noses. Sit your child in the bathroom with a hot shower running, or give them a warm bath for instant blocked nose relief. Placing hot water in a bowl and allowing them to inhale it can also be very effective but be careful that they do not scald themselves on the water or steam.

Nose blowing

Encourage your child to blow their nose regularly and not to sniff up the mucus. It’s also important that they don’t blow their nose too hard as this can cause earache. The best way for them to blow their nose is to press a finger over one of their nostrils whilst they blow gently to clear the other.

Saltwater

For older children with a sore throat, a salt-water gargle can offer short term relief. You can make this by mixing up a teaspoon of salt with a small glass of warm water. 

Moisturizing Balm

Colds are always associated with red, sore noses from constant blowing and this can add to the discomfort. The solution is to use just a dab of a moisturizing balm (such as Alba Botanicals Un-Petroleum Jelly) on the sore areas. You can also help prevent the soreness by offering your child baby wipes or facial tissues with lotion to blow their nose on as these keep the skin soft and moist. To make your own try this recipe.

Echinacea

For children aged 12 and over, Echinacea is thought to be a highly effective supplement in fighting coughs and colds. It is thought to stimulate the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells and boosting the activity of other immune cells. However, Echinacea is not recommended for children under the age of 12 as there is an increased risk of allergic reaction which may include skin swelling, hives, rashes, shrinking of the airways in the lungs, asthma and anaphylactic shock.  You can find Echinacea in most high street stores, pharmacies, health food shops and online (though if you’re going to buy online, ensure it’s the real dealer by sticking with a reputable seller like Nature’s Best for example.)

Food

You may have heard the old saying ‘feed a fever, starve a cold’. In fact, this is nonsense. When your child’s body is fighting a virus, it needs all the help it can get, and starving is never the answer. Offer your child healthy nutritious food and try to work in as many immune system boosters as you can: button mushrooms, acai berries, watermelons, cabbage, almonds, grapefruit, wheatgerm, low fat yogurt with active cultures, garlic, spinach, decaffeinated tea, sweet potato and broccoli have all been marked as having immune-enhancing effects.

Resource: 12 immunity boosting snacks from Parenting.com

Vitamin C

Many people reach for Vitamin C at the first sign of a snuffle but does it really work? Many swear by it but some research suggests that Vitamin C may help to shorten the duration of a cold by only a small amount if taken regularly. However, Vitamin C is an important vitamin and antioxidant that your child needs to keep their body strong and healthy and it certainly won’t hurt giving them extra Vitamin C whilst they are poorly so offer them strawberries, blackberries and oranges to snack on for a Vitamin C boost.

Resource: Yummy “Soper C Smoothie” recipe from Annabel Karmel

 

This article was contributed by Carly, a keen  blogger from the UK.  When not writing, Carly LOVES scouring Pinterest for home decorating inspiration, and walking her two doggies in the local park.

Photo credits:

Sneezing child:  <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/46589312@N08/4505231328/”>SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/“>cc</a>

Berries:  <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/31817493@N08/5414933178/”>kPluto</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/“>cc</a>

Product InfoOct. 15th

Playful Planet’s Playful Programs

The initial spark of inspiration for the Playful Planet® vision was to create a set of programs containing a beautiful spectrum of engaging activities for kids to empower them to make good choices for their overall well-being and the well-being of the planet

 

Storyland Activity Series©

 

The basis for all of Playful Planet’s product is the Storyland Activity Series™.  It is our ultimate goal to provide a comprehensive set of media programs (along with their companion curriculum and mobile app’s,) that will inspire a well-rounded set of activities to bring out the best in our kids — creatively charged, health-inspired, conscious citizens that feel empowered to treat their bodies and the planet with respect!  Next up is Storyland Cooking: A Farm-to-Plate Adventure© (see more below,) and beyond that we will move into the realms of Creative Play, Recycled Music, Dance & Movement, Family Fitness and Martial Arts.  Stay tuned for more amazing, playful programs!

 

 

Award Winning Storyland Yoga©

Our first entry into the marketplace came with 4 prestigious awards and a promise for national distribution from WTTW-PBS Chicago for a 13-part series based on our popular Storyland Yoga© program. 

Customized corporate sponsorships are currently available with on and off-air benefits, including :15 on-air sponsor messages, DVD and online branding, and a robust educational component. For more details, contact Kim Hogan at kim@khoganmedia.com.

 

View The Trailer               Buy Storyland Yoga©

Storyland Yoga©  (winner of Parent’s Choice Approved, Mom’s Choice Gold, “Dr. Toy “Best Green Product,” and Preferred Choice by Creative Child Magazine) is a wonderful way for families to enjoy “organic” time together.

Storyland Yoga© is a fun-filled adventure that infuses children with an eco-conscious message. Two unique stories, Save the Whale and Condor Trek, engage a child’s imagination through storytelling. Kid’s learn yoga postures by becoming part of the story and imitating animals. Yoga is great exercise and helps to calm children, giving them greater focus and increased clarity. By connecting with nature and gaining respect for their own health and well being, children become empowered to create solutions for the health and sustainability of our planet. Storyland Yoga© is equally fun for parents and family members who can benefit from yoga, while enjoying organic time with their children.

 

COMING SOON:

Storyland Cooking: A Farm-to-Plate Adventure© starring Registered Dietician,Katie Cavuto-Boyle, involves kids in two fun-filled stories, Sleeping Kingdom and Mother Earth. The stories engage children’s imaginations in a cooking adventure, while infusing gentle eco-messages. Katie involves kids at home in food selection, menu design and food preparation, motivating them to eat healthier and better understand their own nutrition. Through hands-on activities, kids connect with the source of natural, organic foods, gain respect for ‘Mother Earth’, and enjoy eating delicious meals that promote health for them and well-being for the Planet.

Storyland Cooking: A Farm-to-Plate Adventure© features Katie Cavuto-Boyle MS, RD, noted Philadelphia chef and registered dietician. Katie has appeared on Rachel Ray and Food Network as well as other network cooking shows. She is a contributing health and nutrition writer for several national magazines and blogs such as FoodNetwork.com, Healthy Eats Blog and Philadelphia Magazine’s – Be Well Philly Blog.

 

 

 

 

 

The Expo West ExperienceApr. 1st

Its been a crazy month of March — on top of Bryans travels — I had two business trips. Each trip included meeting scores of new people with follow up (of course,) AND we changed out our daughters school in the middle of it all. But, true to my commitment (to myself) to make sure I post at least one blog per month, I am here now. (Okay, so its the last day of the month, but honestly, its been hectic.)

My first trip this month was to the Natural Products Expo West. Wow! More than 3500 vendors and a sold-out crowd of 58,000 people! Thats the Anaheim Convention Center SOLD OUT. Such a beautiful thing to know that the Natural Products industry is thriving and expanding and going mainstream. Its good news for our bodies, our kids bodies, and our planet. Yippee!

I grabbedgirls_expo_product oodles of samples out on the show floor and promised I would put them through a formidable hazing. I chose my 6-year old daughter and her two best friends. Can you imagine the excitement in the room when I told them we needed to test out snack products to see if they liked them?

I started with sweet snacks which will be the focus of this post. Of course, this being the Natural Products Expo, even the sweet stuff has some redeeming qualities. At the least, the sugars are natural and not stripped down, there isnt a hydrogenated anything near any of it, and most of the sweetness is deriving from fruit.

In honor of not sending anyone away from our sampling with a bellyache, I kept the number of products to a minimum. I will list them in their order of likability

  1. Just Desserts, Pecan Blondie Bites. This delicious morsel got a resounding YUM from all three girls — toppics_pecanblondiesand me, AND the babysitter! Oh so good. Yes, the first ingredient is sugar (which wouldnt be my first choice for a healthy snack,) but the saving grace is that it is 100% natural and it is baked from scratch so it could be worse.
  2. Tied for no.2: Revolution Foods, Yo Drops Crunchable Yogurt (no image avialable). All I can say is that the two girls that did vote YES on this one kept asking for more (good thing they had given me several samples, otherwise I may have had my own revolution to deal with!) The sample packaging doesnt have the nutrition panel on it, so I went to the website to see if I could find that info. No luck on the nutrition aspect, but I have to admit, I think I have a crush on this company. They are all about creating a REVOLUTION in school lunch programs and nutrition education. Im feeling the love!ServeImage

  3. Tied for no.2: Stretch Island Fruit Co., FruitaB. We had both the Grape and the Apple flavored fruit rolls and had 2 big yess and one no. All of the sugar (14g.) comes naturally from fruit, and at only 70 calories it is a pretty good option for a sweet treat. Better than Twizzlers!
  4. tropical_blendFroose, 100% Natural Fruit Flavored Gummy Snack. I was kind of hoping this one would be a winner because gummy snacks are so in-demand and this one has 25% less sugar than most and boasts that it is made with whole grains (there is organic brown rice syrup and organic brown rice flour in the mix,) but sad to say, only one kid liked them (my own not included.) I personally thought they were pretty tasty. But if my child isnt that into a sweet snack, Im certainly not going to push it, whole grains or no whole grains.

There are two other sweet snacks that deserve a mention, even though they didnt get the whole panel of kids checking them out.

mountain-blueberry-flax

Yogi brand has a cereal line Granola Crisps that I was not familiar with before the Expo. I tried two different flavors, the Mountain Blueberry Flax, and Fresh Strawberry Crunch, and both were excellent. I sent some of the Strawberry to school with my daughter to eat dry as a snack, and the container came back empty, so she must have liked it too! It is delicious as a snack and for a cereal it has great nutritional values (low calorie, low fat, has some fiber and protein and fairly low sugar, 5g.) Yogi brand is committed to using optimal ingredients and fostering a sustainable business.

And my fiproducts_cranberryorango_smallnal (and probably my favorite…) pick from the show in the sweet snack category is the Nutorious line of simple nut confections. The original Ooo La La Original is so good, and each of the spinoff flavors was better than the last. Walnuts, pecans and almonds with an amazing array of lovely accompaniments it just doesnt get much better than that! From their website: Every bag is packed with flavor and full of goodness with Omega 3, premium all natural ingredients and zero trans fat, not to mention low sodium. I am definitely rooting for these two lovely women who are bootstrapping this initiative!

Stay tuned for Savory Snacks! (and, Stay Playful!)

Karen