This long Labor Day weekend has an added bonus in that football is also starting! Whether you are an avid football fan or not, you can still enjoy the opportunities to gather with friends and family to bond over the games or better yet, the food. We’ve compiled some of our favorite healthy recipes for football gatherings whether you are doing appetizers or bigger entrees. You can start making menu plans now to be ready for the weekend fun!Post_9_Corn_Salsa

Try out these some of our favorite healthy recipes for football gatherings:

  • Healthy (But Tasty) Appetizers – Start out with some figure-friendly appetizers including healthy hummus, a lighter spinach dip, or some simple corn salsa.
  • “Fit”-tastic Finger Foods – Here are some more ideas for starters with some great dip ideas including fresh fruit and cinnamon yogurt dip, tropical fruit kabobs with yogurt dip, a butternut squash dip and an easy recipe for baked pita chips to use for your healthy dips.
  • Game Day Go-To Meals – If you are looking for a more substantial meal, try these healthy options including whole wheat English muffin pizzas, corn and black bean quesadillas, southwestern pepper cups, or whole wheat calzones.

Who else is excited for some football? Which team is your favorite?

fruits and veggies for kidsWith school back in session, it is a good idea to get kids back into routines in all aspects of their lives. Keeping kids healthy is one of the most important jobs a parent can have and one way to do this is to ensure they are eating enough fruits and vegetables each day. It’s so easy to choose unhealthy foods when you are tired out from the school day and extracurricular activities.

Try having single servings of fruits and veggies for kids readily available for easy decision-making. Accessibility and presentation is key when encouraging kids to make these healthy food choices.

Make sure and download the fun coloring and activity sheets below to encourage fresh fruits and veggies for kids:

 

Coloring Sheet Button

 

 

 

 

 

Activity Sheet button

 

Although it’s hard to choose, September is probably one of our favorite Foods of the Month food combinations – tomatoes and whole grains! There are so many different dishes that can be made with these two foods. One of the first things that comes to mind is pizza. We got a little more creative with our pizza-making this month and made a variation of margherita pizza. Instead of cooking the pizza flat, we rolled up the dough and made these tasty pizza “sticks!” Best of all, they are healthy, too. Try these for a fun Friday night dinner this week.

Margherita Pizza Sticks

Ingredients

1 lb. whole wheat pizza dough (you can buy this prepared in the deli section of the supermarket)

1 14 oz. can diced San Marzano tomatoes, drained (in the canned tomato aisle)

1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced thin

2 tomatoes, sliced thin

5 basil leaves, cut into strips

Salt, to taste

1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Roll out pizza dough into a rectangle shape using a nonstick baking sheet.
  3. Spread the San Marzano tomatoes onto the pizza dough. Next, add the sliced mozzarella, then add the sliced tomatoes. Finally, add the basil leaves. Sprinkle with salt, to taste.
  4. Next, using the long end of the pizza dough, carefully roll your pizza up, so it creates a log shape. Be careful not to let the dough tear.
  5. Transfer your pizza roll on the baking sheet to the oven and cook for 20 minutes, until the dough is crisp.
  6. Remove from oven, and let stand for 10 minutes until cooled. Cut the roll shape into slices and serve your pizza sticks sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

Margherita Pizza Sticks

September Behavior Tracking Sheet

We continue our series promoting healthy behaviors to be implemented and tracked for an entire month (and hopefully beyond). In September, in celebration of Fruits and Veggies – More Matters Month, the behavior to implement is to eat more fruits and veggies. It’s important to make fresh fruits and vegetables easily accessible for kids to grab when they are looking for snacks. Studies show that eating at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day increase your chances for a long and healthy life! To assist with the increased fruit and veggie consumption, you can download and print your free September Behavior Tracking Sheet and use in your home, summer camp setting, or childcare center to encourage and track behavior change.

Watch as Hardy Heart and the Guys sing about eating five fruits and vegetables a day:

 

Eat more fruits and veggies this month and all year long!

Family Bike Ride

Since 2010, the month of September is dedicated to National Childhood Obesity Awareness. The aim is to spread the word by promoting healthy eating and the importance of physical activity all month long (and of course beyond). Offering guidance on the types of foods kids are eating and balancing their diet with enough physical activity expenditure is key to this childhood obesity fight. Energy balance is what it is all about!

So, we challenge you and your family to join the fight against childhood obesity during the month of September. Here are some ways your family can be involved if you choose to accept the challenge:

  • Family Fitness Challenge – Set a physical activity goal for each member of your family. Whether it be 5 situps or 10 pushups a day, create a chart that holds everyone accountable. Let each family member select a reward (non-food!) ahead of time and the family can motivate and compete for top of the chart at the end of the month. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone!
  • Food Taste Tests – Commit to introducing your kids to a new fruit or veggie each day or week of the month. Take them to the grocery store and let them pick them out. You never know which tasty fruit or veggie may jump to the top of their favorites list!
  • Post-Dinner Family Outings – Incorporate a family walk or bike ride into your nightly routine, even if it’s just a quick 10-15 minutes. These short increments can add up over time and it is a great way to catch up with each other amidst our busy schedules.
  • Weekend (Active)ities – Plan a fun family outing such as a hike or day at the park where you bring a healthy picnic and a soccer ball or football to play with. This is another great way to get in some bonding time while also being healthy!
  • Fruit for Dessert? – Each night this month, instead of that ice cream for dessert, offer the kids fruit or some variation. Eventually their taste buds may opt for this sweet treat over the ice cream (we can hope, right?). Try this tasty berry smoothie recipe for a healthy dessert alternative.
  • Turn off technology– Implement a nightly “no technology” rule for the month. In the evenings, put on some of the kids’ favorite tunes and have a dance party instead! We are sure that you can survive!
  • Spread the Word – Share your ideas and find out what others are doing this month by using #ChildObesity across social media. Also, challenge another family to commit to a month of healthy eating and physical activity promotion!

Click here for more information, ideas or resources to promote National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

involve kids in meal planningKids typically like to be involved in everything. In many cases, at a certain age, they also like to do everything on their own. Sound familiar? One positive way to use this excitement and eagerness to help is to involve kids in meal planning. What better way to start a conversation about healthy eating and also to encourage making healthy food choices, then by letting the kids help with the decision making? Win-win in our opinion.

Give kids several dinner options and let them pick which they want. Once meal time comes around, let them help with the prep work and also then the clean up! Just like Calci M. Bone, there can be one night a week where the kids are responsible for dinner (with a little assistance from the adults of course).

Make sure and download the coloring sheet for today to see what Calci M. Bone chooses for her Monday night dinner and to involve kids in meal planning:

 

Coloring Sheet Button

The long Labor Day weekend is ahead of us and with that comes gatherings filled with friends, family, food, and FUN! Keep your celebrations healthy with some of our favorite cookout-worthy recipes. We have provided some recipes for Labor Day, most which include various foods of the month for August and September, for each course.

Try these recipes for Labor Day festivities:

tomato caprese

Tomato Caprese Salad

 

stuffed peppers

Caprese Stuffed Peppers

 

Summer Squash Veggie Wraps Summer Squash Veggie Wraps

 

peach hot dog

Peach Hot Dog

 

ww mac and cheese copy

Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese (for the kids!)

 

apple pie wraps

Whole Wheat Apple Pie Wraps

 

Grilled Peach Cobbler

Grilled Peach Cobbler

 

So what are you planning to do this Labor Day Weekend! Keep it healthy and safe!

 

USA Today Back to School Magazine

 

Back to school has been the primary focus these last few weeks and to continue with that theme, we thought we would suggest you check out the USA Today: Back to School Magazine. You can get the scoop on the latest snacks, clothing and products, along with some great articles to get you back in the swing of things.

If you run into our ad inside, you will be able to download your FREE back to school activity book! Read the online edition for these great articles and resources.

Happy reading and happy back to school!

 

USA Today Back to School Insides

school lunch prep

Tired of packing lunches for your kids every night/morning? We have the solution for you! Enlist your eager little helpers to get involved in school lunch prep to save you time (and sanity). When kids are involved in the lunch-making process, they’re more likely to take ownership in their food choices, resulting in a higher success rate of eating it all!

Here are five helpful ways that kids can help with school lunch prep:

  • Plan weekly meals – To ensure success, take 15-20 minutes to plan the weeks’ meals (including lunch and snacks), create a shopping list, hit the grocery store and you’re set.
  • Shop with a mission – Get supplies to make 5 main lunches so the kids have options. For example, get ingredients for turkey and low-fat cheese, peanut butter & jelly on whole wheat, etc. plus fruit/veggies and other healthy snacks.
  • Prep and Portion Foods – Wash, cut and ration fruits and veggies into small containers ahead of time. Put other healthy snacks such as pretzels, peanuts, whole wheat crackers, etc. into baggies and store together in pantry. This will save time and offer healthy selections for the kids.
  • Schedule lunch prep times – Set an evening time slot for each child, where they can quickly put their lunch together. This will eliminate any potential kitchen bickering sessions between kids.
  • Follow up – Check the lunches to ensure they are in fact creating healthy and balanced meals. When you see that they are doing a good job, you can feel good knowing they are making healthy choices for themselves!

Giving kids the chance to decide what they feel like having for lunch AND the opportunity to pull it all together, they learn to make smart decisions and be self-sufficient. Win-win, for sure!

 

Hardy preparing kids for tests

With back to school comes plenty of homework to be done and tests to be taken. It’s important that kids realize their performance results on tests have a big impact on their future.

Preparing kids for tests and how to properly study for them is very valuable. Today specifically, Hardy Heart is talking about spelling tests. He emphasizes making sure to go over and over the spelling words before the test to ensure kids are confident going into the test. Confidence and practice is key in preparing kids for tests.

Download the coloring and activity sheets focused on preparing kids for tests:

Coloring Sheet Button

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activity Sheet button