Eating Healthy at Home

Eating Healthy at Home

Your kids will love eating healthy foods in no time if you take these simple steps at home. It is also proven that kids who eat healthier at home are the ones that are likely to make better food choices outside of the home.

Of course, we all care about our family’s health, but it’s hard enough just to get a meal on the table most days, let alone having to worry about making it nutritious, too. Remember, it’s okay to start small. Simply switching to whole grains or replacing soda and sports drinks with water will help you become more conscious of the foods and beverages you and your kids are putting into your bodies. Before you know it, making healthier choices will be second nature. You’ve got this—and we’ve got your back!

MyPlate is a great place to start educating yourself about healthy eating. The site uses visuals to help your family make healthy food and beverage choices from all five food groups—fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.

Start with a few of these small changes:

  • Make half your plate fruits and veggies.
  • Focus on whole fruits.
  • Vary your veggies, with a rotating cast of dark-green, red, and orange vegetables at dinner.
  • Make half your grains whole grains (think whole-wheat pasta and tortillas, brown rice and quinoa, whole-grain bread).
  • Change up your protein routine, with an emphasis on chicken, turkey, fish, and lean cuts of pork, beef, bison, or game meats, trimmed of fat. Beans are a great plant-based protein source to include in your diet as well.
  • Offer water, low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk, or 100% fruit juice instead of juice drinks, sports drinks, or soda.

You may be wondering, “How am I ever going to incorporate enough fruits and veggies into our meals to make them half the plate?”

It’s not as hard as you think. Chances are, your kids are already eating a good amount of fruit. Make sure you’re offering fruit with breakfast, lunch, and snacks. If you still think they’re not getting enough, smoothies are a delicious (and efficient) way to pack in one or more servings. And don’t forget dessert! Try berry parfaits with Greek yogurt; halved peaches or sliced pineapple, grilled and drizzled with a little honey; homemade fruit popsicles; blueberry crumbles; and baked apples or poached pears with cinnamon.

We’ll admit, you might have to get a little more creative with veggies. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw away all your existing recipes and start from scratch. Simply find ways to incorporate more vegetables into the meals your family already loves. Here are a few of our go-to tricks:

  • Wraps: Step up your standard turkey-and-cheese by adding extras like baby spinach, red pepper, cucumber, avocado, tomato, shredded carrots and sprouts.
  • Pizza: Top whole-grain crust or dough with any combination of mushrooms, peppers, onion, fennel, zucchini, tomatoes, Brussels sprout leaves (trust us, it works), arugula, spinach, and fresh herbs. Create a pizza bar of options for DIY pizza night.
  • Quesadillas or Bean Burritos: Stuff with corn, peppers, tomatoes, onions, avocado, spinach, or cilantro, and serve with salsa.
  • Soups and Stews: Gazpacho, minestrone and chili are all so easy to upgrade! Throw in whatever extra veggies and beans will work best with your recipes.
  • Pasta: You can add nearly anything to this dish! Broccoli, cauliflower, peas, peppers, snow peas, mushrooms, onions, leeks, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, pumpkin, zucchini, spinach, kale, escarole, herbs—and, of course, tomatoes—are all perfect partners for whole-grain noodles. If you’re willing to mess with your recipe, carrots, zucchini, and onion make nutritious additions to your Sunday sauce.
  • Smoothies: Not just for fruit. Try adding carrots, beets, cucumber, ginger, avocado, spinach, or kale to your smoothies, and have your kids guess the mystery ingredient!
  • Salad Bar: Set out small bowls of broccoli, shredded carrots, diced cucumbers, raisins, cherry tomatoes, and other ingredients for kids to create their own leafy masterpiece.

Get Kids in on the Act

You’ve heard it a million times, but that’s because it works! The more involved kids are in planning and cooking meals, the more likely they are to eat them.

  1. Include your kids when planning the weekly family menu so they feel like they have a say in what they’re eating.
  2. Look at your school’s website together to see what’s being served, and decide if you’ll make breakfast and lunch at home or buy it at school.
  3. Shop for groceries together. Make a list before you go to the store and only buy foods on the list. Once in the store, let your kids help you find items on the list. Read food labels out loud and talk about the choices you’re making.
  4. Cook with your kids. It’s a great opportunity to teach them measurements, conversions, and cooking skills, and it gives them a vested interest in the finished product.
  5. Hold family taste tests. Buy different brands of a healthy food (whole-grain pasta, for example) and let family members decide which one they like best.

Eating healthy outside of home is important for kids growth too. Do you pack your kids a healthy lunch box for school? Or do they pack your own? Check out our E-Book of 100+ healthy lunches for kid lunchboxes.

These lunch box recipes are set-up to accommodate a busy schedule, variety of preferences, without holding down to specific ingredients or recipes.

 
  • Get 7 Tips for Packing a Healthy Lunch & Preparation How To templates
  • Learn the lunchbox recommendations to meet your child’s nutritional needs
  • Learn how to stock-up your kitchen to make quick, easy and flavorful meals
  • Learn PRO tips & tricks to cook more flavorful meals with little extra effort that kids will enjoy
The Lessons We Learn From Sports

The Lessons We Learn From Sports

This summer, my sons have been training with a semi-retired pole vaulting coach, who is nothing short of a legend in our small town, Mumford Leake. We meet once per week and he works with them on the techniques associated with pole vaulting. He’s also introduced them to the shot put, discus and hurdles during our time together. These weekly workouts have been the highlight of my summer. This may seem a little odd, that the highlight of my summer wasn’t some epic adventure or grand vacation. However, watching Coach Mumford instill in my kids the same love and passion he has for track and field has brought a lot to all of us on those early Monday mornings. 

As our summer of field event training has come to as close, and I think back on what they’ve learned, it’s some of the most basic lessons that sports can teach you. How to overcome adversity, literally… and how to be brave enough to try new things, even if you aren’t good at them. Each of the boys have gravitated to one field event more than the other. Brooks really likes doing the pole vault, and while Ridge thinks vaulting is fun, he seems more engaged in the throwing events. While my hope is that they continue learning these sports and participate in track in the spring season, (they are baseballers at heart… so fingers crossed), I will always be grateful for this summer mornings at the track and the lessons they’ve learned. 

I’ve always told them that we put them in sports so they can learn important life lessons, like how to be a good teammate, how to overcome adversity, and how to win and lose with grace. While they’ve learned a bit of these things on their own this summer, we also got to watch these lessons play out on the world stage at The World Athletics Championships for 10 days in July. Nightly, we’d watch the events which were full of incredible feats of athleticism, speed, and strength that were capped off with victorious moments of athletes draped in their country’s flags being celebrated by all in attendance. However, the moments that stood out the most, were the moments of defeat, specifically in the pole vaulting finals. As the bar rose higher and higher, the number of athletes started dwindling and as each athlete missed their final attempt, they graciously bowed and waved to the crowd. Each one took a moment to literally “bow out” of the competition and they did so with dignity and grace, which left a lasting impression upon all of us.

In sports as in life, we can’t always win, and having a gracious attitude in those moments that don’t go our way, says so much about our character. 

Being Vulnerable

Being Vulnerable

Adventure Begins when you leave your comfort zone
Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change”
-Brene’ Brown
an American research professor, lecturer, author, and podcast host.
 
Being Vulnerable The definition of vulnerable is the willing to show emotion or to allow one’s weaknesses to be seen or known. In a world of 24 hour media with social media showing us the best and brightest moments in all the lives of all the people around us, being vulnerableis neither common nor popular. I think as a society, most of us are less willing to take risks and try new things because it makes us vulnerable…. Vulnerable to having the risk not yield some sort of reward, not being good/successful at the new thing, andbeing susceptible to ridicule by others.
 
There are all sorts of ways in which we can avoid being vulnerable… in our professional life, in our social life, in our hobbies and activities. If we play it safe, we are just that… safe by staying in our comfort zones and doing what we’ve always done. However, ironically, avoiding risks in those areas, limits the opportunities that might arise from trying new things, meeting new people, pickup up a new hobby, making a career change etc…. It’s quite a catch 22.
 

As a middle-aged woman, who recently took a few large risks professionally and has many more left to go, I can attest to the deep feeling of fear that burns in your stomach when you make choices to seek new opportunities. The fear that these risks won’t work, the fear of judgement of others, the fear that maybe this was the wrong choice…. However, every time I go back to the why… the reason I made these choices and made myself vulnerable, I remember that it is worth it, and always will be. I needed a personal and professional change in my life so I could be more physically and mentally present in my kids’ lives. So I made a big career shift, took a few big gambles and in doing so have landed on a winding path that requires continual growth, learning,resetting, and changing. And while I’m not 100% certain where this path will lead,I know it is well worth the journey with all of its unknowns and fears. The lessons I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, the communities I’ve become a part of, has all been incredible and if I’d played it safe, my life would not be as enriched as it has become over the past two years. It’s also allowed me to not only be more present in my kids’ lives but to show them what bravery looks like, what hard work looks like, and to show them life is a great adventure with so many opportunities, as long as you are open to being a little vulnerable because that is where the lessons are learned and the spirit is strengthened.

 
Live Boldly. Live Bravely. 
 
 
How it Started... How it's Going

How it Started... How it's Going

HOW IT STARTED... HOW IT'S GOING

At the conclusion of last summer’s youth baseball season, both of my sons found themselves without a team on which to play for the following summer. After countless discussions, brainstorming, try-outs, more discussions, more brainstorming and a few more try-outs, they finally landed on the same team, the La Stars 12U (meaning all the kids on the team are under 12 or younger.  

 

At this age, most teams have played together for a few years and have a strong sense of team dynamic, which helps them perform well on the field. This new 12U team is a hybrid of players from a variety of backgrounds. Some from my older son’s original team, some migrated over from other teams, and some had never played competitive travel baseball before.  

baseball huddle

At the onset of this season, several things were apparent. One – that all of these boys and their parents were happy to have found a team on which to play, and there were little expectations other than showing up to play some baseball. Two – the team had some really good potential but would need a bit of work to bring it out.   

 

This past weekend’s tournament was one that most of the players and parents will remember for a very long time. Our team came together and played incredible baseball – with each player realizing their potential on the field, which resulted in some really solid baseball. Our pitchers were on fire, nailing the strike zone and pitching with confidence. In the field, we dialed in the amount of errors and were executing diving catches and cross-field throws with impressive precision. At the plate, our bats were hot. Our team hit 7 home runs in 3 games. Three of our players hit their first ever home runs, and two of the players hit two home runs in the the same game. It was impressive to watch.  

 

On Sunday, after a decisive 10 run rule victory over our first opponent, and just before we were set to take the field for game 2, a storm blew in. It was quick and fierce, but we were certain that after a short delay we’d be back on track, playing more baseball and with high hopes of wining game 2 and making it into the championship game – a feat that seemed a little out of reach for our team a few months ago – especially in a 12 team tournament. However, our confidence was high with the way we’d been playing thus far.  

baseball pitcher

Then, the baseball organization made the unfortunate call that due to inclement weather, the tournament was over. Our hopes of wining and our opportunity to keep playing baseball for the day was over. I know I was bummed because it was a joy to watch the team play and to watch them celebrate each other’s epic plays and in-game victories with high-fives, and fist-bumps.  

 

After the news of the cancellation, I spent about 15 minutes packing up our sports wagon with all the gear required to survive a weekend of baseball with two kids on the team and a husband who coaches (the amount of bags , balls and bats is like NEXT LEVEL… and that doesn’t even account for all the snacks). Once the wagon was packed and the gear expertly balanced on top, I made my way over to the field where our team was. I expected to find sad faces and hear lots of complaining. Instead, I saw a field full of boys, being boys, running around in the dirt and mud and sliding in water puddles, and laughing all the while. The boys were so dirty that when they walked off the field, they looked like they were covered in wing sauce – all orangish red and gooey.  

My first thought was OMG – those pants will never be white again. OMG there is so much dirt and mud all over them.  

After exiting the field, the boys all made their way over to the pond at the park for a quick rinse and then followed that up with a second rinse at the splash pad which took off the first 7 layers of dirt and mud. All of them rode home soaking wet, but happy.  

Today, I did a second Clorox soaking of those “white pants” and another cold water wash with OxyClean and the pants are a little whiter but still have a red hue to them. While considering whether to try another method to get them white again, I decided that was ridiculous – these pants and their new hue are a visual mark of the great memories the boys made on Sunday. To wash that away would be pointless. Of all the baseball games they are likely to play in their lives, they will remember this past Sunday forever. The day they played some of the best baseball of their lives, and when their games were canceled, they to got play like little kids again – in the dirt and mud with their friends. 

I hope those stains stay in their pants for as long as they can fit in them and those memories stay with them forever. Because life isn’t about the wins or loses, it’s about the memories we make along the way and, the fun we have with friends. And this Sunday we got to check all those boxes.  

 

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