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Posted December 18, 2014
It will soon be the start of a New Year and time to get those New Years Resolutions formulated. Some say they are a waste of time, but why not create a new you? Why not make healthy changes? Why not set some new goals for yourself? Why not make 2015 the year you get to the gym, start eating kale and get 7 hours of sleep. You deserve to be the best you that you can be. Let the planning begin.
The first step to making healthy changes is to make a commitment to healthy changes! Setting new goals is fantastic. We are never too old to improve or to learn something new. A new year is a fresh start to make some great improvements. Visualize and be mindful of the change you want to make and take small steps to achieve and create new habits.
So go ahead – here are 5 New Years Resolutions everyone should make and some helpful ideas to keep you on track. Here’s to a Happy and Healthy New Year!
Get this one to the top of your list. You’ve heard the expression ‘move it or lose it’? Well its true. Remember doing cartwheels as a kid? Easy-Peasy. Have you tried to do one in the last 20 years? Don’t. Your body forgot how to do a cartwheel a long time ago! If you don’t keep moving and keep lifting and keep getting some aerobic activity into your week, you will soon not be able to climb a flight of stairs without heavy breathing.
Add in simple at home activities 2-3 times a week
Go for a walk
Do a yoga DVD
Climb the stairs at the office or even at home
Do 10 push ups, 20 squats and 45 second plank every day
When you have the hang of at home workouts, add in classes at your local gym or yoga studio or join a learn to run group.
Eat More Vegetables
Be mindful of meal time preparations and start with a healthy shopping cart by filling it with loads of vegetables. Then add them to everything!
Vegetables in every meal
Add extra broccoli, carrots, corn, peppers to soups and stews
Have a side of sweet potato fries with a veggie burger
Puree squash, cauliflower and spinach and add to mac & cheese or even brownies
Bake zucchini muffins or cookies for school lunches
Get on your snow pants and get outside to play with the kids, fill your weekends with lots of outdoor play and indoor family fun at recreation centres.
Make play part of your week
Frisbee or Catch
Indoor rock climbing
Simple concept, but many mornings are so busy breakfast is no more than a cup of coffee; it's no wonder you are lethargic by 11am. Make eating breakfast your most important new habit. Have easy and quick breakfast items on hand so breakfast on the go is healthy and convenient.
Make a list of easy breakfast ideas
These Oatmeal packs require boiling water and ready in 3 minutes
Hard boiled egg and an apple is a protein and fibre rich breakfast
Yogurt, berries and granola in grab and go containers fill you up
Glass of fortified orange juice with a handful of almonds
Get More Sleep
Easier said than done for many, but research shows getting a good nights rest is important to our health. If you are too busy to go to bed earlier, it will catch up with you and you’ll be nursing a cold and busier than ever. Have trouble falling asleep? Try some non medicinal remedies to make sleeping easier or end your day with a relaxing yoga practice.
Try relaxing with a chamomile tea before bed
Eating fruits rich in melatonin such as cherries can aid in restful sleep
Sunflower seeds contain tryptophan - an amino acid that aids in sleep
The best part about these New Years Resolutions is that you can start on them right now! Get to work making small changes and improving your health and wellness before ringing in the New Year. Give yourself the gift of a health! All the best in 2015!
Posted November 12, 2014
Use the bounty of Fall produce to introduce your family to new flavours and teach them the difference between a parsnip and a rutabaga. You never know, there just might be a new vegetables in there that they like (who knew my 11 year old daughter liked turnip!). If there are no takers for the brussel sprouts not to worry, you can still add some of these great Fall Foods into the dishes the kids already like with these meal ideas.
So many squashes to choose from: green ones, yellow ones, round ones, long ones and so many different flavours. Try them all. Spaghetti squash is scooped out with a fork after it is cooked and creates spaghetti like strands, hence its name. Butternut and acorn squash are the more traditional orange squash full of beta carotene.
Meals Ideas: Top spaghetti squash with a your favorite spaghetti sauce and you have an alternative to noodle night. Cook, puree and add squash to soups with roasted garlic or this macaroni and cheese recipe - kids will love it!
We go apple picking every Fall but this year I did something a little extra. I purchased 8 different varieties of apples and the whole family did a taste test at the kitchen table of all the apple varieties and guess what? After 9 years of eating Gala apples we all found a new favorite – Honey Crisp!
Meal Ideas: Apples go great with pork in the slow cooker, green apple in your curry and apples and apple sauce are perfect for baking in everything from these Chocolate Zucchini Cookies to this overnight slow cooker oatmeal or use apple chips in these apple cinnamon granola bars.
Versatile and healthier than regular white potatoes, especially when eaten with the skin on, make the sweet potato a valuable addition to your weekly vegetable rotation.
Meal Ideas: Boiled, roasted, mashed, baked whole or as fries, the options are almost endless. Peeled, cooked and pureed sweet potato can be added to soups, stews, sauces and adds great colour and flavour to hummus for dipping.
Such a funky fruit once you peel back the layers and a good source of potassium, fibre and Vitamin C but how do you get at all those seeds? A request to buy a pomegranate from one of the kids, a lesson on how to slice then peel back the skin to form wedges similar to an orange from the internet, and we are now a pomegranate eating family.
Meal Ideas: Pick seeds out of wedges and eat as is or sprinkle on salads, cereal or morning oatmeal for a sweet crunch.
You either love ‘em or hate ‘em but you can’t deny these mini members of the cabbage family are good for you.
Meal Ideas: They can be sliced and eaten raw in a salad or steamed whole as a side dish. If you are not a fan, try slow roasting them in the oven with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a new flavour and give them another try.
Round, small and purple, the turnip is often confused with the rutabaga (or the rutabaga is confused with a turnip) either way, these winter wonders are harsh tasting to some and yummy to others. Experiment and if nothing works they are great pureed and slipped into quiche, casseroles and soups.
Meal Ideas: Turnip can be grilled, sautéed, roasted or eaten raw but are commonly boiled in water with a potato to remove any bitter taste then enjoyed mashed on their own or with your favorite spices. Can be mixed with mashed carrots for a colourful Autumn dish.
The sweet partner to the turnip and root vegetable family, parsnips have a nutty flavour, are loaded with folate and fibre and look like over grown white carrots.
Meal Ideas: Wash and peel if skin in thick, then chop and cook in soups and casseroles, roast in oven or cut length wise to make yummy parsnip fries.
Dates, or date palms, grow on long strands in palm like trees in hot climates and are harvested in the Fall. This sweet fruit is high in fibre, antioxidants, potassium and iron and is very versatile.
Meal Ideas: Large dates can be stuffed with blue cheese, goat cheese or melon, wrapped in prosciutto and served as an appetizer, eaten as is for a sweet treat or ground with rolled oats to make these no bake, nut free Chocolate Power Balls that even the kids will love.
Thanksgiving and turkey dinners have made the cranberry a staple fruit in the Fall but their good for you nutritional profile suggests we should be eating these more often.
Meal Ideas: Cranberries add a sweet and slightly tart flavour to any baking and dried cranberries are perfect in these instant oatmeal packs for quick breakfast on the go.
Experiment at with these and more Fall foods at the grocery and get the whole family to try something new. You just might find a new favorite for your warm Autumn meals.
Posted November 6, 2014
Feeding kids can be a game of hide and seek or hit and miss. Some foods are an instant hit and easy to get kids to eat while others you have to hide or sneak into a sauce. Teaching kids young about nutrition won't solve the green vegetable debate with your toddler, but it will help them to grow up understanding the importance of eating a variety of foods and being healthy.
Teaching kids about nutrition is an important as teaching them to read and write and having them understanding the benefits of eating well early on will encourage a healthy relationship with food.
As soon as you start introducing solids, talk to your child during meal times about what food they are eating and why it is good for them. Tell them that carrots are orange and good for their eyes, that avocado is yummy and green, that bananas give them energy and pears have lots of fibre. Show them a fun way to keep track of eating fruits and vegetables by challenging them to eat something from all the colours of a rainbow!
When they come with you to the grocery store and reach for the Fruity-O’s cereal explain why you prefer the low sugar, whole grain cereal without the artificial food dyes and offer to buy the Fruity-O’s for making necklaces or to glue onto art projects. It’s important to explain why you are not going to buy 'real' fruit squishers and prefer they have a bowl of real strawberries instead. Read labels, introduce them to ingredient lists and show them the unhealthy side to many packaged foods.
Healthy Food First
Set a rule early on that is it always ‘healthy food first.’ Instead of saying "NO dessert if you don’t finish dinner," tell the kids to have a healthy dinner first, then dessert. When you are out, encourage them to fill up on healthy food choices first before hitting the candy machine, dessert table or snack bar. Say yes to requests for treats, but qualify it with the 'healthy first' rule. It leaves the kids feeling like they are not being denied a treat and parents are still able to enforce the importance of healthy choices.
Teach Food Groups
You don’t have to go into the entire Health Canada food pyramid and serving sizes but a simple fun exercise of cutting out different foods from a grocery store flyer can go a long way to helping kids understand that eating a variety of foods is key. At meal time discuss what is a protein, a grain, dairy, fruit or vegetable and have the kids determine if ityou are eating a balanced meal.
Make It Taste Good
I have 3 normal kids who hate cooked spinach, think zucchini is gross and have vowed to never eat cauliflower for the rest of their lives. I also have 3 kids that eat zucchini, spinach and cauliflower weekly because I make it taste good. I bake oatmeal zucchini cookies they love, make homemade brownies with 6 cups of spinach and add cauliflower to every soup, scrambled egg and
mashed potato I serve. Every meal has fresh vegetables on the side that they do like – carrots, broccoli, peas, corn, beans – and every healthy homemade snack, casserole or soup has the rest of the vegetables they are not so keen on.
Talk about healthy food and food in general at meal time, at the grocery store and when commercials come on TV. Discuss the benefits of real fruit vs. fruit leathers and drinking milk or water instead of soda. Hand your baby pieces of banana to chew on instead of packaged baby foods and remember, it is never too early to teach your kids about healthy food.