TOP 5 TIPS FOR LESS SUGAR ON HALLOWEENOct. 22nd

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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

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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.

Question of the MonthOct. 2nd

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How do you pack a more healthy, sustainable lunch for your kids?

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With everyone caught in the Back to School frenzy, our October topic is all about our desire to explore how to pack our kid’s lunches in a way that aligns with our values regarding keeping our planet and our bodies clean and sustainable. With many modern parenting issues, there are often more questions than answers that come up, and we are all about taking ideas and putting them into action. For some, sustainable may be about organic, for others, about going vegan, or even dabbling in urban permaculture. In the end, we all have to make it work within our family’s budget and time constraints. It isn’t a contest to see who is the greenest parent, but comes from a desire to put good things in our children’s bodies so that they can feel healthy, happy, and energetic. We want to show our kids how to be stewards of the earth and make good choices for themselves and their future families. The resources that come out of making these inquiries will hopefully help you come to terms with the lunchbox struggle in a way that fits your values.

This month we will be sharing ideas, recipes, and yes, PLAYING around on Youtube! Stay tuned!

Thanksgiving Food FunNov. 14th

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You may have seen this image (and many more) pop up on Facebook, Pinterest, etc… It just stood out to me as the perfect dish for Thanksgiving, especially if you have kids in the house.  What better way to celebrate AND get a few veggies into ya before the pie, than with this adorable critter?  

As serious as getting healthy food into your kids is, for disease prevention and optimal health, we sometimes forget to make food FUN!  I’m planning on making this for Thanksgiving~ How about you?  Now go and play with your food!   

Playful Lisa

 

 

 

Grateful Monday: Grateful for SpringMar. 11th

Spring has Sprung according to daylight savings time, and a good portion of the country. I love to think of Spring as a chance to start anew. They don’t call it Winter, Fall or Summer cleaning to they? 😉 

In Spring you can rejuvenate your life, your schedule, your plans, your outlook. Spring is about shedding the Winter and in some ways maybe shedding bad habits, or that Winter funk. 

Another wonderful thing about Spring is that it stays light later. To me that means early evenings runs, outdoor time with family after work, picnics for dinner or just dining on the back patio. It means yummy Spring veggies you can grow in the garden. Tons of natural light brightening up your home and a chance to clean and have that whole “out with the old” saying put to good use. 

I am grateful for Spring because you really feel like in some ways you can start over. You can eat healthy salads and veggies that you can grow yourself or buy from local growers because maybe during the Winter months you weren’t eating so well. You can spend time outside getting amazing nutrients and staying healthy with your family. 

There is so much to be grateful for with Spring. I for one am glad Spring has sprung. 

Are you as grateful for Spring as I am?

Juice UpMar. 17th

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J = Juice Up

Juice It UpInvolve your Kids into getting more fruits and vegetables.

Nearly every doctor, nutritionist or eating plan will recommend getting six to eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day for optimum health. Sometimes it can be tough to eat that much produce in your daily diet. Getting your kids to eat enough fruits and vegetables every day can be even more challenging, especially if they’re picky eaters! Using a juicer is a simple and delicious way to make sure you and your kids are getting all the nutrients they need from fruits and vegetables every day. Juicing lets you consume larger amounts of fruits and vegetables in smaller, fresher servings, and you won’t lose any of the important nutrients like you would with cooking or steaming. Juicing concentrates all of the power of the produce in a super-digestible form, so all the fresh-squeezed goodness is immediately used by your body. Kids love it, especially if you involve them in inventing and making juicy concoctions!

Your body absorbs a higher concentration of nutrients and enzymes from juices because part of the digestive process is bypassed.

Simple Steps

  • Start with fruits and vegetables they enjoy non-juiced. While juicing can be a good way to add a variety of fruits and vegetables to your child’s diet, experimenting with new flavors too soon can turn them off juicing. Get everyone used to juicing using family favorites like apples, pears or watermelon.
  • Use natural ingredients to improve the taste. You might be tempted to sweeten your juices with sugar, honey or other products, but it’s better for your child’s health to stick with fruits and vegetables. Try adding berries, lemons, limes, cashews, almonds, pineapple or cucumber to your juicer for a new taste and added nutrients. Carrots and pears are great juice sweeteners. If you like a little kick in your foods, add a tiny bit of ginger or cinnamon to the mix.
  • Drink your juice right away. Fresh fruits and vegetables that have been juiced are very perishable, so it’s important that you make sure the juice is finished or stored properly immediately after juicing. This means no sending it to school in an unrefrigerated lunchbox! Instead, serve for breakfast or as an after-school pick-me-up.
  • Add plenty of green to your juices. One important benefit of juicing for kids is the opportunity to introduce foods they might normally resist eating. Make sure they’re getting plenty of dark green, leafy vegetables in their diet by adding things like lettuce, grasses, spinach, kale, parsley, chard, and broccoli to juices.
  • Get your kids involved in the process. A picky eater is more likely to try a new food if they’ve helped pick out and prepare the ingredients. Bring them to the grocery store and make a game of finding something fun to try in the juicer, and let them name your creations.

Learn More

Get started juicing for your family with these easy juicing recipes for kids. If you have young kids, read this guide for safely juicing for kids.

Eating Local Can Be EasyJul. 17th

 

peach_manOne of my favorite memories from childhood was the roadside summer stand overflowing with fresh summer fruits (peaches, plums, berries) and fresh corn-on-the-cob and OMG, those New England summer tomatoes. I dont know why, but something about summer tomatoes in New England beats out about every other tomato Ive ever tried (except perhaps on the island of Capri, but thats a whole other story!)

The corporatization of the food industry (as explained very coherently in Food, Inc. the movie ) has created a world where we can often get fruits and vegetables year-round that used to be limited to their season, but the truth is, when we eat with the seasons we are getting the best that nature has to offer rather than science.

I am so excited to be in the summer months when so many of my favorite fruits and vegetables are in their glory FM_welcome_signseason! And I love that it has become so easy for me to get much of my bounty direct from local growers and farms. Aside from the fact that I am a happy subscriber to a weekly delivery service (SloVeg) I also happen to live in an area that prides itself on a Farmers Market somewhere within the county every day of the week. And it is a community that has several very viable options for CSA (Community Supported Agriculture co-ops.) But on a national level finding local CSAs has become easy with websites like LocalHarvest.com

watermelon_radishI first tried a local CSA through Cal Poly about 2 years ago and what I loved about it was it really gave me inspiration to try new foods that I would not have ever tried. It was my first introduction to a watermelon radish which I have loved and coveted ever since. Not easy to find these little jewels, but so extraordinary they are worth the search!

When I was a kid heading to the fruit stand, it was worth the few extra miles we had to travel to get there. And I believe that holds true for today. It may take a little extra effort to find the CSA or the farmers market, or the grocery store that prides itself on stocking local foods but the advantages are huge. On the personal level we are talking better nutrition, better taste, fresher food. On the global level we are talking about supporting local farming, less industrialization of food (meaning less chemicals, less processing and less genetically modified foods,) and less destruction of our land and environment. It seems a pretty easy choice.

Stephanie

What do you think?

Stay Playful,

Karen

PS- If you ever have the good fortune to make it to the Baywood Farmer’s Market in Los Osos on Monday’s or the Cambria Farmer’s Market on Friday’s, don’t miss Stephanie’s “Farmer’s Market Inspired Soups.” They are brilliant!

Food FunOct. 27th

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Correne Quigley-Faysal
is a whole foods chef instructor and certified holistic nutritionist from the Central Coast of California. She is passionate about using local and organic foods in her recipes to receive the best nutrition from the food and to also help the planet! She is also a mother to a beautiful toddler girl and is excited about helping to develop one of the next Playful Planet programs, “Farm-to-Plate Cooking.” Thanks for sharing some delicious, kid-friendly fare with us, Correne!

Correne’s recipes available here:
Almond Hot Chocolate
Berries n Cream steel cut oatmeal
Mini Zucchini – Tomato frittatas
Whole Grain waffles

Please check out Correne’s website

Whole Grain WafflesOct. 27th

Whole Grain Waffles

Makes 6-8 Belgium stlye waffles

-1/2 cup blue corn flour

-1 tablespoon canola oil

-1/2 cup whole grain quinoa flour

-1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

-1 cup whole wheat flour

-1 tablespoon ground flax seed soaked in

-2 teaspoons baking powder

-1 tablespoon water

-1 teaspoon baking soda

-2 tablespoons brown rice syrup

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-2 tablespoons organic evaporated cane juice

-1 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon

-1 1/2 cups soymilk, rice milk, or milk

In a large bowl combined the whole grain flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and fresh ground cinnamon. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk together the rest of the ingredients. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry. Cook the waffles in a waffle iron according to the manufactures directions. Serve hot with butter and pure maple syrup, or with Spiced Pear Butter.

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