Tag Archives: nutrition

Rethinking Nutrition for Kids

9 Mar

What do you think of when you hear the word nutrition? Many times, it’s equated to ensuring there is some type of fruit included in a child’s snack time, or a limit on how many chips a child can have. With childhood obesity statistics on the rise, we want to foster the simple idea that nutrition is more than what’s in your child’s diet; it’s a lifestyle! Here are four easy tips to help incorporate nutritious choices as part of your family’s day-to-day:

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1. Modeling

You are looked up to more than you will ever know! Consumption choices, what items are available in the fridge, and how many times you incorporate exercise into your week are all important choices that acts as behavior models for children. Here are some small ways you can make a difference:

  • Pack lunch together. Children can see that you are packing healthy for lunch just like they are!
  • Use Sundays for meal prep. Having meals all ready to go for weeknights is a great way to avoid the fast food run that we all default to when time gets away from us!
  • Workout during chores! Incorporate squats, pushups, and abs into tasks you already have to do. This is a great example for kids to multi-task as they fold laundry, sweep the floors, or clean up their room! Here is a fun article for moms with toddlers: http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/fit-mom-exercise-tips/

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2. Meal Times

We all know what we put into our bodies is important, but at times, it can be hard to know what exactly a healthy balance looks like, especially for a hangry preschooler who only wants chicken nuggets and french fries! We have a helpful Health Eating from Head to Toe Handout that’s a great start for parents. Not only does it suggest what foods to eat, but also does so with colorful illustrations that show what health benefits come from each food group! Find the handout here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/28885/preschool-healthy-eating-from-head-to-toe-handouts-set-of-50

Nutrition Books to Get You Started: 

Another fun idea to do with the family is to create a “Healthy Recipes” Pinterest board so that you can keep track of nutritious meals your family loves! Follow our family board for weekly inspirations: https://www.pinterest.com/KaplanToys/healthy-family-recipes/

53689.jpg3. Motivated to Move!

Active play is an important part of a child’s day! Not only does it burn calories, but it also encourages creativity, builds important muscles, and gives children a chance to interact with their peers as they work on teamwork, friendship, and an understanding of social rules. Whether it’s getting out in the backyard to pass a soccer ball, mediating on a yoga mat, or hiking as a family on the weekend, motivating children to move is an important concept for children to adapt into their lifestyle as they grow. To browse our selection of active play toys, click here. 

Sources:

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4. Make a Garden

Spring is nearly here! With the start of warm weather comes the prime opportunity to start planting vegetables and herbs for your family meals! Teaching your child how to garden is not only an excellent practice of sustainability, but it will encourage them to incorporate homegrown food into their meals later on. To learn more about the benefits of gardening for children, head over to this article to get started.

Gardening Tools for Toddlers:

 

Share how you are celebrating #NationalNutritionMonth with your kids by commenting below!

Establishing a Summer Learning Plan!

19 May

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It’s almost time for summer! As your kids prepare for freedom, they may not be aware that without use, a lot of the lessons they worked so hard to learn will begin to fade. Since you’ll be spending more time with your little ones, it’s important that a summer learning plan is introduced to prevent summer learning loss. Here are a few easy steps you can take to ensure your children continue to learn outside of the classroom:

 1. Ask your child’s teacher about a summer learning program.

Many times, teachers have already created summer learning activities, programs, or websites for children to engage with during the summer. Check with your child’s teacher to see what options are available. If nothing is in place or you want to delve a little deeper, we also have the following options:

 2. Break out the reading games to encourage early literacy.

Promoting early literacy over the summer is a necessity as reading is one of the biggest indicators of eventual academic success. We have plenty of fun literacy activities you can engage your children in for summer:

3. Take advantage of free community learning resources.

Many times, your community offers free learning opportunities for children that are just waiting to be taken advantage of! A couple of ideas could include:

  • signing your child up for a public library card
  • browsing local parks for nature centers
  • strolling through a nearby university campus
  • checking online to see when music festivals are coming near you or when museums and zoos are running specials for families

The learning possibilities are endless when you see the world through your child’s eyes!

4. Introduce math in everyday learning.

Math learning is all around us! Take time to be intentional in your day-to-day routine by finding opportunities for your children to practice counting, number recognition, and time telling. Some ideas could include adding up prices at the grocery store, counting time while waiting in line, or measuring ingredients while cooking. For even more ideas on how to incorporate financial literacy into everyday learning, check out our post: Small Ways to Teach Math Every Day!

5. Keeping active through imaginative play.

Putting precedence on active play is so important throughout the summer as many children’s natural inclination may be to become a couch potato! The outdoors just awaits adventure and children’s natural curiosity is just the beginning for science investigation. Whether it’s establishing a designated outdoor play time or gathering the family together for a fun game of basketball in the evenings, make sure active play is a part of your child’s summer schedule. Sports teams, trips to the park, and swimming pools are also great ways to keep little feet moving! Find a selection of cool outdoor summer toys here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/search.asp?tbSearch=summer&sc1=1

6. Stress the importance of nutrition through starting a garden.

There’s no better way to get children excited about the healthier aspects of snack time than by starting a family garden! When children invest their time (and love) into growing plants, they are more appreciative when the vegetables and fruits spring up to provide a healthy snack. It’s also a great way to teach responsibility and provide an activity you can do together. For creative garden lessons you can teach preschoolers, check out Gardening: A Growing Process for Children.

We hope your summer kicks off to a great start! If you have any creative ways to keep children’s minds engaged while out of school, feel free to share by commenting below.

How to Pack the Perfect Lunch!

23 Sep

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How much time do you put into packing your child’s lunch? It’s been proven that children’s eating patterns are established from an early age, and with obesity rates higher than they’ve ever been, it’s important to ensure you are encouraging healthy-mindedness from the start. Here are six simple steps on how to pack the perfect school lunch for your little one:

1. Think Healthy.

What foods you place in your child’s lunchbox go a long way in determining how healthy he or she will be. Start with items that are high in fiber, full of protein, and rich in nutrients so that healthy eating patterns are established from a young age. Nutrient-rich foods and beverages can include “fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat milk products, seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.” You know your child best, so pick items from the list that will provide the least resistance! (It’s also helps to know that kids get excited over bright colors, so be sure to include plenty!) Some examples of healthy lunches include:

• Ham and turkey roll up
• Whole-wheat pita with hummus
• Black bean burrito with cheese
• Hard-boiled eggs
• Tuna or cubed chicken tossed with light mayo, celery, mustard, and carrot.

Source: http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/825337/how-to-pack-the-perfect-lunch

-Find out the different options for healthy breakfasts, snacks, lunches and dinners in the Healthy Food Choices set! Try out book recipes in the kitchen to get your kids engaged!

2. Make Snacks Fun.

You have to throw in a snack with lunch, but what kind? Think colorful, different textures, and a variety of dipping sauces! Trade out the chip bags for dried fruit chips, the sugary snacks for celery and hummus, the Oreos for yogurt parfaits chock-full of berries! Healthy snacks allow children to experience a wider variety in the lunchbox as opposed to the ordinary vending machine plastic packs. Wholesome snacks will leave children more full and nutritiously satisfied.

3. Toss in a Kid-Sized Beverage.

Complete the perfect lunch with a kid-sized drink! No more miniature sodas or drinks full of additives. Juices, low-fat milk, and 100 percent fruit juices are the way to go! Make sure you’re packing appropriately sized bottles; 8-ounce bottles are the perfect size as they cut down on waste and are easy to pack.

4. Portion Control.

It’s great to include the anchor items, whether it’s whole-grain mac n’ cheese or creamy tomato soup, but if you’re packing too much of the main course and not enough of the veggies, children are going to be less inclined to eat the healthy sides included, choosing instead to fill up on only denser options. To find out what portion size is best suited for your child, check out the following resource: http://www.healthykidshealthyfuture.org/content/dam/nemours/www/filebox/service/preventive/nhps/publication/nhpsadminguide.pdf

5. Mix It Up.

No child likes opening his or her lunch box to the same thing every day. Try to mix things up and provide a little variety. Including some kind of surprise can make lunch rewarding to children and change their perspective of healthy eating into a positive experience. Leaving a special note is always a great way to provide children with a comforting reprieve during the school day.

6. Pack Smart.

Although it’s tempting to simply throw everything into a bag, try to keep in mind how you’re packing your child’s lunchbox. Keep the thermos from squashing whatever delicious sandwich you’ve taken time to make. Make sure the cool pack isn’t soaking the napkin you packed to keep things from getting messy! It’s also best to avoid packing anything that can spew or fizz if shaken too much, as we all know how clumsy children can be!

We hope you found these packing tips helpful. If you have any lunch packing skills you’d like to share, comment below or tweet us your secrets @KaplanToys with the hashtag #PackingLunch.

Resources:

http://www.letsmove.gov/blog/2012/03/22/packing-lunch-your-preschooler-portion-size-matters
http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/825337/how-to-pack-the-perfect-lunch
http://www.womansday.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-shortcuts/how-to-pack-a-better-school-lunch-120119

Healthy Grilling for Kids

20 May

Looking for ways to keep your kids engaged outdoors this summer? Memorial Day weekend is a great time to break out the grill! May is National Barbecuing Month and while there are plenty of delicious bacon-wrapped recipes, we want to provide you with a few healthy options your children will love not only eating but helping you prepare. Get ready for Five Healthy Treats for the Grill:

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1. Put it on a stick

Grilling instantly becomes more fun when children can put skewers in food and let it cook over the flames. Grilled Chicken Fingers with Manchurian Sauce provides a healthier (and more tasty) version of chicken nuggets. Bread the chicken with an oil and water mix so that the coating sticks to the chicken. Manchurian dipping sauce can be made with soy sauce and garlic, expanding children’s horizons from the traditional condiments of ketchup or ranch. Feel free to put anything your child desires on a skewer, from cheese-filled meatballs to tasty veggies! It’s a great dip and go food!

Source: http://www.ivillage.com/5-fun-grilled-treats-kids/3-b-189251#18929

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2. Fruit Kabobs

Fruit is always a rare treat when grilled lightly in honey syrup mixed with cinnamon. The mixture makes the fruit even sweeter and gives kids a chance to make their own shish kabob. Put any combination of your child’s favorite fruit on a skewer, dip it into the syrup and let it grill for a few minutes before enjoying. Strawberries, pineapple, banana, and apple are always good choices!

Source: http://www.ivillage.com/5-fun-grilled-treats-kids/3-b-189251#18929

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3. Three-Cheese Pizza

What kid doesn’t like pizza? Grill sliced dough on an oiled cookie sheet before adding a combination of mozzarella, ricotta, and Pecornio Romano cheese on top. Cook for a few minutes before adding parsley, cutting into four slices, and serving as a healthy finger food!

Source: http://www.delish.com/recipefinder/three-cheese-pizza-ghk

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4. Grilled Corn with Poblano Lime Crema

Corn on the cob is always a favorite and is easy to hold for little hands. Grill your corn and add a little spice with the Poblano Lime Crema. Find the recipe here, drizzle the crème on top of your corn, add a touch of cilantro, and enjoy!

Source: http://www.pbs.org/food/recipes/grilled-corn-with-poblano-lime-crema/

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5. Chocolate Marshmallow Banana Boats

We couldn’t leave you without a grilled dessert! With a piece of tin foil, a banana, and chocolate chips and marshmallows to go inside, kids will love the final messy product of a banana boat. You can always use vegan alternatives for the chocolate chips and marshmallows to make this a healthy treat for your children to enjoy.

Source: http://www.ivillage.com/5-fun-grilled-treats-kids/3-b-189251#18929

Grilling Tips & Safety

  • Portion Control: Make sure any meats you plan on grilling are cut into 3-5 ounce pieces. If your kids are really hungry, they can always come back for seconds!
  • Don’t wear loose clothing while grilling.
  • Don’t add lighter fluid to an already lit fire.
  • Always supervise children around grills.
  • Use long-handled grilling tools so that hands are kept away from the hot grill and flames.
  • When cooking hamburger or turkey ground meats, make sure it says “extra lean” on the package.

26827aFinally, if your kids are feeling adventurous and you want to encourage dramatic play, check out our Grill and Go Campstove, perfect for making play food as you grill out side by side!

We hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend!

 

Resources:

http://www.nourishinteractive.com/healthy-living/free-nutrition-articles/22-healthy-family-bbq-kids-grilling-lean-meat

http://www.safekids.org/blog-post/grilling-summer-safety