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Did you know that it’s Every Kid Healthy Week from April 25th to 29th? Mark your calendars!
Each year, one week in April is dedicated to celebrating health at school. During this week, kids learn about healthy living through the food they eat and physical activity initiatives. Healthfulness of the home environment is equally critical for kids as well.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 90% of US children ages 6 to 18 consume too much sodium on a daily basis. Because high blood pressure is associated with high sodium intake, 1 in 6 children ages 8 to 17 already has raised blood pressure. Added sugar consumption has also risen in the recent decade with children having 16% of their total calories come from sugary foods and drinks. This is especially worrisome given the increase in teenagers being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Although parents and guardians may want to take immediate measures to improve their kids’ health, there are a few crucial points to keep in mind. One is to provide the whole family, not just kids, with more healthful opportunities. That way, the healthy choice becomes more familiar and eventually feels like a normal part of life for everyone at home. Another point to consider is not to impose a “special diet” on the child who has health or weight concerns. This can add to any negative self-esteem he might already have. Or if the child doesn’t see his health as a concern, the changes will feel like an unnecessary order from the adults and won’t be taken seriously.
A long-term goal for the whole family could be to foster healthy eating habits through lifestyle changes and include physical activity as a part of daily routines or fun outings. Instead of framing the change as dieting or getting rid of extra calories, take an approach of providing nutritious options more often and more consistently. Also, habits form more successfully if the whole family makes the change together. Simple changes everyone can try are making sure at least one vegetable is served at every meal, relying on fresh fruits for snacks, and injecting movement into the day like doing jumping jacks during TV commercial breaks.
Other tips to create a healthier home environment:
- Involving kids during grocery shopping and meal prep so they can be a part of the process!
- Asking kids to choose between 2 kinds of veggies they would like for a meal. Having a say in the decision will empower them and they’ll be more likely to try the veggie they chose!
- Role-modeling healthy habits such as trying new foods or exercises. More importantly, not talking about these healthy habits as a chore or punishment!
- Scheduling an outdoor activity as a family once a week or once every 2 weeks such as visiting a local zoo, walking to the city’s library, or starting a game of front yard badminton!
What healthy change do you plan to make with your family?
You might have seen the fruit section of your grocery store filling up with more varieties of berries lately as the weather warms up. Most berries are in season from May to August but some arrive at markets as early as April.
Reasons to enjoy:
Berries are known for their antioxidants that help with counteracting and reducing damage to cells. They’re also known for anti-inflammatory properties thanks to compounds that lower health risks like cardiovascular disease. Although each type of berry packs a slightly different nutrition punch, these fruits have similar nutrition characteristics across the board. For example, they all contain:
- fiber which promotes good digestive health
- vitamin C which assists in making collagen – an important structural component of skin, tendons, and ligaments
- manganese which is necessary in the digestion of carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids (the building blocks of protein)
Since these brightly-colored fruits are not dense with carbohydrates, one serving of berries typically equals a generous ¾ to 1 cup depending on the type of berry. This makes them an especially appropriate food for people with pre-diabetes or diabetes who are looking for a sweet treat with a satisfying portion size.
Ways to enjoy:
Washing berries too far in advance can make them soft and moldy prematurely. Try rinsing them (not soak!) right before using for best texture. Fresh berries are terrific mixed into plain yogurt, served with pancakes or waffles instead of syrup, and can be exciting additions to salads. When fresh ones aren’t available, frozen berries are handy for adding into oatmeal and smoothies. Here are 3 more recipes using berries in nontraditional but very tasty ways!
Blackberry Chia Jam from Craving Something Healthy • http://cravingsomethinghealthy.com/blackberry-chia-jam-recipe-redux/
Frozen Berry Yogurt from Love and Zest • http://www.loveandzest.com/2011/08/frozen-berry-yogurt.html
Frozen Berries and Pink Cashew Cream from Nutrition Stripped • http://nutritionstripped.com/frozen-berries-pink-cashew-creamm/
What do you like?
What’s your favorite berry and your favorite way to enjoy it?
Pastas have gotten a bad reputation recently along with other carbohydrate-rich foods like rice and bread. Even though the noodles are known to be a source of carbs, they’re also a source fiber and protein if you choose the whole wheat options. When served as part of a well-rounded meal, pasta can be a healthy offering that helps fuel you for physical activity. Here are 7 recipes for any season that will tickle your taste buds!
- Pasta in Spicy Cream Sauce with Chicken
If you like spicy foods, then this recipe is for you! Serve this with a salad or roasted vegetables and you’ll have a balanced meal.
- Spring Orecchiette Pasta with Burrata
Pasta comes in many different shapes and sizes, and this refreshing recipe with spring vegetables uses orecchiette pasta which means “little ear” in Italian.
- Spring Vegetable Gnocchi
Gnocchi are dumpling-shaped pasta that are typically served in a heavy cream sauce. But this recipe makes it a lighter dish with plenty beautiful green asparagus and peas.
- Vegan Charred Asparagus Pasta Salad
Spring and summer means more time spent outdoors and grilling. Next time when the grill is fired up, throw some asparagus on it so you can make this pasta salad!
- Sonoma Chicken Pasta Salad Jars
Another pasta salad for those warm days ahead! You can either make the recipe and serve it in a bowl or make it school- or work-ready by packing it in jars as shown.
- Thai Chicken and Pumpkin Curry Pasta
Talk about a recipe with an unexpected combination of ingredients! Canned pumpkin creates a silky texture for the sauce without using cream and gives the dish a healthy boost of vitamin A and fiber.
- Squash Pasta with Sage Pesto
This recipe doesn’t contain any pasta noodles in the traditional sense but is still very satisfying thanks to three different kinds of veggies and a hearty pesto sauce.
What is your favorite way to enjoy pasta?
The arrival of spring means that many vegetables and fruits are coming back into season. This is great news for anyone who is tired of the narrower selection of winter produce. One of the produce that’s a poster-child for spring is asparagus.
Green-stalked asparagus are the most common variety, but you might also see them in white and purple colors. The freshest asparagus will have firm stalks with tight tips. Before preparing them, snap of the drier, wider ends of the stalks and give them a good rinse.
Asparagus has about 40 calories in every 1 cup and is a good source of fiber, iron, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium. One of the most abundant nutrients in this vegetable is vitamin K which plays a role in bone density and blood clotting. Although calcium might be the most mentioned nutrient when it comes to bone health, other nutrients such as vitamin K work together with calcium to build strong bones.
A Funky Bunch
The funky smell detected in your urine after eating asparagus is completely normal. When our bodies break down the vegetable, a sulfuric compound results from digestion and is responsible for the odor change. Because sulfur-containing substances typically have a distinctive smell, asparagus that has gone through digestion is no exception.
Grill Once, Enjoy Many Way
There are endless delicious ways to enjoy asparagus. For a simple and beautiful side vegetable, grill fresh stalks over a grill or barbeque and serve along side the rest of your meal. If you’re trying to meal prep for the week, consider cooking extra asparagus while you have the grill on. The grilled stalks can be cut into segments and used in many ways such as adding to pastas, casseroles, omelets, or as a base for stir-fries later in the week.
We hope that you’re adding asparagus to your shopping list this week!
2016 was declared the International Year of the Pulses by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO. You might be wondering what are pulses and why they’re healthy. The word pulses come from the Latin word puls which means thick, meal, or mush. While that doesn’t sound tasty, pulses actually are a subgroup of the legume family that includes edible beans, dried peas, chickpeas, and lentils which can be prepared in many delicious ways.
Though exact amounts differ depending on the specific variety, pulses in general are rich in fiber, protein, and iron along with a few other minerals and vitamins. Foods rich in fiber and protein can help with feeling fuller longer while iron helps with lowering the chance of iron-deficiency anemia. To help the body better absorb iron in pulses, enjoy them with foods rich in vitamin C such as tomatoes and red bell peppers or finish the meal with strawberries or kiwi fruit. Dried beans, peas, and lentils are very inexpensive but can take some time to cook. If you’re tight on time, canned versions aren’t as inexpensive but are still a nutritious option if you choose those with no salt added or labeled low sodium.
Good for the Body and the Earth
Besides being a nutrition powerhouse, pulses also have a positive environmental impact. For starters, they require significantly less water to grow than raising livestock. By some estimates, it takes about 10 times less water to produce a pound of pulses as it does for a pound of chicken and about 45 times less water compared to beef production. Additionally, legumes have nitrogen-fixing properties which can enhance nutrients in the soil without using additional fertilizer. All this means more fertile soil for increased farmland productivity.
For ideas on how to enjoy beans and lentils, check out these recipes from Meatless Monday!
Whether you’ve been hitting the gym for years or just getting started, there are guidelines everyone should take into account to increase the efficiency of their workout and achieve their health/body goals. We’ve outlined some tips we recommend incorporating into your workout routine to achieve a stronger, fitter body.
Eat slow digesting carbs before workouts – Researchers at Loughborough University (UK) discovered that consuming slow digesting carbs before a workout resulted in lower insulin levels and increased fat burn throughout the day. Additionally, they also showed that individuals who consumed slow digesting carbs before a workout had more endurance and increased fat burn while exercising. It’s recommended that you try to include 40 grams of slow digesting carbs such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes, fruit, or whole-wheat bread before exercising to improve the your endurance and efficiency during a workout.
Vary your rep speed – In an Australian study, people who had faster reps (1 second gap) gained more strength than people with slower reps (3 second gap). This was because faster reps caused faster twitching of muscle fibers which lead to faster strength increase. Slow-reps, on the other hand, led to faster gains in muscle mass. Hence, a good way to increase both strength and mass would be by varying rep speeds.
Be consistent – You may not be a workout pro just yet, but the key to achieving your fitness goals is to be consistent at the gym, no matter how hard you push, as long as you remain consistent the results are sure to come!
Use a music player – Weider Research Group concluded that trained bodybuilders were able to complete an extra 1-2 reps per set when listening to music. So bring your favorite tunes to your next workout and push yourself even further.
Set realistic goals – This one is important, set realistic goals. Everyone wants to have the dream body, but the reality is having a high goal may discourage you if you aren’t seeing the results right away. Set incremental goals and do whatever it takes to get there. Also set some incentives to reward yourself at each benchmark.
Bring a buddy – Bring a friend with you to workout, and encourage each other to push yourself to the limit!
Try incorporating some of these tips into your next workout. We are sure that these will help you achieve your goals. Also, log your exercises with Calio to help you track your progress (download now)! One more thing to mention is the 80/20 plan – 80% of the year, exercise and eat well while allowing for a 20% “slip” due to holidays and vacation. Happy exercising!