Welcome to our COMMUNITY BLOG! Throughout the year we will feature information, updates, and resources from the people who work with our children in our community.
This post comes from the Valley Initiative to Advance Health and Learning in Schools (VITAHLS) Coordinator Gina Smith. Gina shares great ideas about healthy eating on the go, how to get your kids involved in making their food, fun rainy day activities and highlights from the VITAHLS programs running in Valley schools.
Healthy Eating Tips for a Family on the Go!
Adapted from www.active.com
· Pack School Lunches for Your Children. Do as much preparation as you can the night before, so the children can grab food and go in the morning. Prepping at night also makes you more health conscious with what you put in their lunch bag.
· Quick and Easy Healthy Breakfasts. There are dozens of great-tasting, all natural cereals available at your local grocery store. You can also make a quick breakfast smoothie and let your child drink it on the way to school.
· Healthy Snacks in the Car. Try to keep sealed, non-perishable healthy snacks in your car for when your child is hungry on the road. Some options can include dried fruit, whole grain crackers, and almonds.
· Bring a Cooler on Long Road Trips. Fill it with healthy lunches, snacks and drinks. This can help you from stopping at fast food restaurants.
· Your Freezer is Your Friend. Take the time to make a few extra batches of your favorite meal and then freeze extra portions for quick meal options.
· Make Time for Sit-Down Meals. Try to have a family sit down meal a couple of nights per week. It helps strengthen the family bond and shows children the importance of taking time to be with people they love and also to eat healthier.
Try it together! Here are some healthy recipes that your kids can help make.
Fruit Smoothie Adapted from Cooking Matters for Kids
· Measuring cups
· 1 medium banana
· ½ cup ice cubes
· 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
· ½ cup 100% orange juice
· 4 frozen strawberries
· Optional: ½ teaspoon cinnamon
· Peel banana. Place in blender.
· Add remaining ingredients to the blender. If using cinnamon, add now.
· Cover and blend until smooth.
· For an extra nutritional boost try adding a handful of baby spinach!
· Cutting board
· Sharp knife
· Baking sheet with sides
· Measuring spoons
· 6 carrots (about 1 pound), well-scrubbed, not peeled
· 1 teaspoon
· olive or canola oil
· 1⁄2 teaspoon
· kosher salt
· Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
· Cut carrots into thirds. Cut the thinnest end into 2 spears and the two thicker parts into 4 spears each so that you get 10 carrot spears from each carrot.
· Put the spears on the baking sheet, and rub the oil and salt on the carrot pieces until they're all lightly coated.
· Bake until tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Adapted from www.parents.com/recipes/cooking/kid-friendly-food/healthy-snacks
Apple Twist: Make a classic snacks even better! Freeze small containers of unsweetened applesauce overnight for a slushy treat and a serving of fruit!
Fruity Franks: Spread the inside of a whole-wheat hot dog bun with honey or a nut butter. Place a peeled banana inside and slice down the middle!
Lady Bugs on a Log: This is a nut-free alternative to the traditional Ants on a Log snack. Fill short celery sticks with a small amount of light cheese spread and dot with dried cranberries.
Blue Bagels: Smash a cup of fresh blueberries into 1 cup reduced-fat cream cheese. Spread 2 tbs. cheese onto mini whole-wheat bagels.
Popcorn Pouches: Mix air-popped corn sweetened with cinnamon and a little dried fruit. Scoop about 2-3 cups into a small paper bag and seal with a fun sticker.
Rainy Day Activity Ideas for Kids!
Adapted from: www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/move/slideshow-inside-activities
Gather a Hula Hoop Group: Head to the garage or some other clear space for some hula-hoop fun! Kids can exercise different parts of the body by hooping around their waists, arms or legs.
Follow the Bouncing Ball: How many ways can your kids bounce a ball? Let kids try dribbling close to themselves and far away. Gather a group and try to bounce the balls in different ways!
Get Up and Dance: Take turns having family members make up their own dances. Teach kids a line dance or just have an impromptu dance party with family or friends.
Get your Exer-game On: Use technology like games that require movement. High intensity dance games (Dance Dance Revolution) are sometimes even used in PE classes. You can even search www.YouTube.com for videos you can follow along with. Just type “Activity Bursts” or “Just Dance” into the search bar. *It is suggested that you view them first before showing them to kids to make sure they are appropriate.
The Valley Initiative to Advance Health and Learning in Schools (VITAHLS) is working to improve the health of children in the Valley. VITAHLS, which started in 2011, brings together Griffin Hospital, the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, and four Valley Districts (Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, and Seymour). Our mission is to create a school-based wellness program that increases physical activity and healthy eating in schools and at home. We work on creating free low-cost programs that can be easily added into the school day, without any extra burden on the schools or teachers.
Our community partners on this project include the Ansonia and Derby Early Childhood Councils, the Connecticut State Department of Education, Jones Family Farm, Massaro Community Farm, Naugatuck Valley Health District, Shop Rite Supermarket, and the Valley Y. Our growing list of programs includes: Nutrition Detectives, ABC for Fitness, the NuVal food scoring system in school cafeterias, Couch to 5k for school staff, healthy cooking competitions for middle school students, outreach to PTOs/PTAs, school gardens, and much more. We currently work with local K – 12 schools and have plans to expand to pre-K programs in the future!
Highlights from a Couple of Our Programs
1. Don’t be fooled by the big letters in front of packages of food. Look for letters on the food label instead.
2. Remember: the first ingredient is always the biggest.
3. Avoid partially hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup.
4. Fiber is your friend, so look for whole grain imposters! High-grain fiber products have to be at least 2 grams of fiber per 100 calories
5. Avoid foods with long ingredient lists! Shorter ingredient lists tend to be more wholesome.
6. Use these tips the next time you are in a grocery store!
Here is a link to some examples of what an activity burst looks like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjKJgvUoK28
For more VITAHLS information
Phone: 203-732-1265, ext. 305