Tag Archives: healthy family

Teaching Children Meditation & Mindfulness

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 3.35.56 PMIn today’s high-tech, fast-paced world, it’s pretty easy to become over-stimulated. Busy schedules directing us to go, go, go and electronic devices constantly in our hands, sucking us into scattered digital directions make inner-peace a fleeting want. Enter tension and fatigue. This is true for us, as adults, so imagine children as they absorb the energy of their parents and of the environment which they live in. Then, we send them off to school where they are expected to concentrate and focus.

As an adult, to be able to accomplish all of the above is a pretty remarkable feat. Imagine learning these tools as a young child and then being able to use them your entire life! What if an entire generation of children were blessed with this gift? While mindfulness is catching on and currently being taught in a handful of schools across the country, it is largely up to the parents to teach this powerful tool. And studies have linked mindfulness to better concentration, increased focus, and boosts of memory – so it’s well worth it.

The tips I’m about to share are my own experience as a parent and what has worked in our family. They are geared towards younger children, but much of it can apply to older kids as well. (If you are an adult looking to learn more about meditation, you may want to check out this article.)

Introducing Meditation and Mindfulness to Young Children

  1. Lead by example. As a parent, it is most important to first develop your own meditation practice and then show your children the way. They will naturally become curious as they so often want to emulate the behaviors they see in their parents and others whom they look up to. My five year old daughter has grown up her whole life witnessing meditation, and I even have many fond memories of her as a toddler coming out of bed in the morning and plopping herself down on my lap while I was in the midst of meditating! Once there is a genuine and natural interest, you can begin to help guide them into a better understanding and foster the growth of their own practice.

  2. Make it relatable, on a child’s level. There is a wonderful book about meditation called Peaceful Piggy that I’ve read with my daughter many times and would highly recommend. The story-telling approach is a wonderful way to connect with young kids. Above that, they suggest a really simple do-it-at-home experiment to demonstrate what meditation is all about. It says to take a jar and fill the bottom with a bit of sand. Then, cover with water. Shake the jar so that all the grains of sand begin swirling all around. Tell your child that each of those grains of sands represents a thought. It could be a happy thought, a sad thought, an angry thought. But, the grains swirling around represent all of the thoughts buzzing around our heads throughout the day. Next put the jar down and allow the sand to settle. See how the sand “thoughts” become calmer and the water becomes clearer? The thoughts are still there, but they are no longer all “crazy.” Peace and stillness have taken over. Explain to your child that this symbolizes the effect of meditation on the brain.

  3. Encourage discussion of their own feelings and emotions. Ask them for examples of different experiences: when something made them really happy, or really sad, a time they felt upset or their feelings were hurt, a time they felt scared. Give a few of your own examples to show them that we all feel this same array of emotions on a regular basis. Even young children, who seem to have such simple lives, still have a lot to sort through and deal with. They may share some emotions such as: happy on a fun family adventure, upset when mommy or daddy wouldn’t let them do what they wanted, sad when a family member or pet became ill, or feeling hurt when a friend in school said something mean. For children who are a bit older, the standardized testing system seems to be a source of worry. Meditation can help settle the overwhelming feelings and bring them to a calmer place in their thoughts. Being able to get outside of the whirlwind to just observe instead of being engulfed is truly a powerful gift.

  4. MinfulnessRealistic Expectations. It’s important to cover that there is no way to do this right or “wrong.” Like exercising, results become more apparent with repetition. Frequency is key to really seeing benefits over time. That being said, this should be an enjoyable experience for them and not feel like a chore or something they are being forced to do. Encourage their interest, efforts, and willingness. If you are into reward systems, this could be a good time to implement some small ones. “Let’s practice a few minutes of meditation and then we can play a little game” or “have a little treat.” This type of system is very encouraging for young children. Make it special! Designate a specific area for them in the house that will be their meditation spot. Make it welcoming with their own pillow or special pillowcase. Encourage them to bring a few trinkets that have special meaning to them: perhaps a family photo, their favorite artwork, a remnant of the earth such as gemstone or even a plant.

  5. Use a Timer. It’s great to have a goal time, but start small. Depending on the age, 3-5 minutes can be a reasonable beginner goal. A timer is nice because it is finite and they know to expect an end time. There are many great meditation apps that you can download for your smartphone. I like ones that use singing bowl sounds for start and finish. Let your child start the timer and put it somewhere they can see it. Encourage them to not worry about the time. Instead, just relax and know their meditation is over once they hear the singing bowl ring again.

  6. Guide them. Sitting down in lotus posture with eyes closed is not a must (although that is perfectly fine). Like I said, there is no right or wrong way. The point is to get them into a practice of settling their minds and become more mindful. Keeping the eyes closed allows for deeper relaxation, so would be suggested. Naturally, they will want to peek – this is okay! Lying down while meditating presents an opportunity to become a little too relaxed and possibly even fall asleep, so some sort of sitting position is best. Small children will be fidgety. Just encourage them to try their best to sit still with eyes closed until the timer goes off. Most important is to focus on the breath. Breathing is something we always take with us, so this can literally be practiced anywhere. Have them simply notice their breathing as their chest rises and falls. Then, start to encourage long, deep, slow breaths where their belly rises up on the inhale and contracts to small again as the exhale it all out.

(A fun visual: “Blowing out the Candle.” Have them clasp their hands together and raise their two index fingers, holding them in front of their mouth. Inhale slowly and deeply. On the slow exhale, have them imagine blowing out a birthday candle. Blowing out a candle is something all children can relate to, and it’s pretty fun too! When my daughter is having a tough time with something, I can simply tell her “breathe, blow out your candle” and she knows exactly what to do to calm down.)

  1. Let it be. Sitting still may not comes naturally at first. It is okay for minds to wander. It is okay to fidgety. As a matter of fact, expect it. Just encourage them to try their best to relax and refocus them back to focusing on their breath as often as needed. Know that over time and with regular practice, they will be able to sit still longer and they will begin to experience many of the other wonderful benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Don’t push it, but gently encourage them to practice regularly.

Our children are the future, and we have infinite love for them. What a beautiful gift to give them and to the world by teaching them to meditate. Namaste.

Do you meditate with your children? Do you have any of your own tips to add? Feel free to share with us in the comments below!

For more by Dawn Gluskin be sure to get on the free email list for exclusive content direct to your inbox and join the inspiring Dawnsense Facebook community.

photo by: AlicePopkorn

3 Healthy, Kid-Friendly Meals in 30 Minutes or Less!

pizza-sliceAs a nutrition counselor and a mom, I understand how overwhelming it can be to prepare healthy, wholesome meals that kids and parents alike will enjoy. Because who has time to labor in the kitchen for hours when there are a million other things to do?

Here are 3 delicious – and healthy! – recipes you can whip up in 30 minutes or less. Enjoy!

1. Pasta with Cherry Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

Prep time 5 minutes

Cooking time 20 minutes (including pasta)

Ingredients:

  • cherry tomatoes – 2 cups
  • sesame oil – 1 tablespoon, refined for high heat cooking
  • thyme – 1 tablespoon fresh, crushed
  • garlic – 2 cloves, sliced thin
  • salt and pepper – to taste
  • basil – fresh, as garnish

Instructions:

Put a pot of water on to boil for your pasta. I prefer a brown rice pasta but any will do.

Wash and then slice the cherry tomatoes in half.

Peel and slice the garlic very thin.

Pinch the end and  slide the leaves off of the stalks of thyme. Chop and then crush them with the flat side of the knife. This releases the flavor.

Heat the oil in a saucepan.

When the oil is hot add the garlic.

When the garlic gets aromatic (about a minute) add the tomatoes and the thyme.

Sautee until the tomatoes are soft. This will take about 3 minutes.

Add salt and pepper and serve over pasta.

I like to serve this dish with a salad. It’s quick and easy summer meal that won’t disappoint.

2. Gluten Free Chicken Satay

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • chicken – boneless 2/12 lbs
  • garlic – 6 cloves
  • agave – 3 teaspoons
  • tamari – 1/2 cup
  • ginger – 4 teaspoons
  • lime juice – 2 fresh squeezed
  • sesame oil – 1/3 cup
  • coriander – 4 teaspoons
  • black pepper – 1 teaspoon
  • himalaya salt – 2 teaspoons

Instructions:

Cut the chicken breasts into 2 inch cubes. Set aside.

Add all of the ingredients (minus the chicken) to a high speed blender and blend until mostly smooth.

Put the chicken in a shallow dish. Pour marinade on. Mix well. Make sure that the chicken is completely coated. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

When you are ready to cook, place the chicken on skewers. I usually use about 4 cubes per skewer.

Make sure the grill is hot.

Place on medium heat for @7 minutes a side.

3. Personal Spinach Pizza

Ingredients:

  • spinach – 1 bag (preferably organic)
  • tomato sauce – 1/3 jar
  • whole-grain pizza crusts – 2 personal size
  • oil – 1 tsp
  • dairy-free Daiya cheese – 1/2 bag

Instructions:

Wilt the spinach. You can either saute it with a little oil or steam it. Steaming is more virtuous but either will do the job. It will only take about a minute.

Blend 1/3 of the spinach with the tomato sauce. Tomato sauce is an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” food. You can add just about any vegetable you want to it. My favorites are the ones I tend to have a hard time getting my kids to eat on their own. Bok choy, leeks and beets are some of my favorite add-ins.

Take the remaining spinach and roughly chop it.

Spread the tomato sauce on the pizza crust. Be generous about it.

Spread the cheese on top.

Bake for @10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is a golden brown.

The leftovers (if there are any) make for a very exciting lunch box item. Reheat in a toaster oven and pack in an air tight container. You get to be a superhero while giving your kids a nutrition packed meal.

Works for me!

 

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips.

The 80/20 Rule: How to Keep Your Family Healthy (And Have Fun Doing It!)

Matt and Jack share a snowconeWe went to a local carnival on a recent night, and the boys and I each had a snow-cone. Sam’s and mine were both bright blue and George’s was half red, half blue.

They were nothing but sugar and nasty dyes, but it was part of the fun of being there. We stood under the fireworks and happily ate them. We broke a lot of rules that night. We stayed up past 10 o’clock, we paid to play games we knew were unwinnable  and we ate carnival food. It was all part of the experience of being there and we had a blast.

This confuses some people. Most notably, my husband. Yesterday he brought home conventionally grown strawberries which I promptly returned to the store. “How can you let the boys have snow-cones and not let them eat conventional strawberries?” he asked. I understand the question, and see that it looks like hypocrisy, but this is how I make sense of our lives. This is my 80/20 rule.

scale (1)It’s All About Balance

I do not strive for nutrition perfection. That wouldn’t be any fun. I mean, what is life without french fries? Instead I strive for 80% good and 20% of whatever comes our way. Life is to be enjoyed. The negative impact of the stress of trying to eat perfectly all of the time far outweighs that of eating something that really makes us happy.

So, how do I balance this? How do I keep track? My way is to treat my home as a sacred food zone. We eat 100% clean food. No dyes, no chemicals, no pesticides (hence the no conventional strawberries rule), no refined sugars or refined flours and no GMOs. The 20% of the time that we are out in the world then all bets are off. We eat what comes our way. That said, of course we eat the best option of what we are offered. Like if we are given a choice between a not-so-good food and a just-plain-awful one, we will choose the former, and if there is a healthy option we will always go for that. But, even then sometimes, we take a time-out.

When we go to birthday parties, we eat cake. We go to the movies and eat movie-theater popcorn. Today, after a haircut, we went into town and had a double scoop of ice cream before dinner. I believe that the key to teaching children to eat healthily is for them to recognize those not-so-good-for-you foods and accept them as being something that is consumed occasionally.

The 80-20 rules works well for us. The kids know it’s all right for them to break the rule on occasion because they understand what the rule is – and why.

 

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips.

Delicious and Fresh: My Top 5 Summer Recipes!

marinated-kale-saladsmall-1024x682

As you may have gathered, I post a lot of recipes and I LOVE to cook. Especially fresh, healthy, delicious dishes for my family. And summer is one of my favorite times of the year to cook because there are so many yummy seasonal fruits and vegetables to choose from, so the recipes never get old!

Here are my top 5 summer recipes, which I invite you to enjoy with your kids, partners, neighbors, and friends!

1. Marinated Kale Salad

Serves 4

Dress with my favorite Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

  • kale – curly, raw, stemmed and chopped- 4 cups
  • strawberries – 1/2 cup, sliced
  • walnuts – 1/3 cup, toasted
  • orange – 1/2- to squeeze on kale after the salad dressing

Instructions:

Wash, chop and stem your kale.Put in a non-plastic bowl- glass, wood or ceramic will work.Add salad dressing.Squeeze ½ an orange over the salad.Get your hands in the bowl and massage the dressing into the leaves. Work each leaf individually.Let it sit for at least a ½ an hour.When you are ready to serve, toast the walnuts, slice the strawberries.Mix into the salad. Serve.

2. Chocolate Mint Ice Pop

Makes ~6 pops

Ingredients:

  • coconut milk – full fat- 2 cups
  • raw cacao powder – 1 tablespoon
  • agave – 5 tablespoons
  • mint – fresh, chopped- 1/4 cup
  • Himalayan salt – dash

Instructions:

Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend until completely smooth.Pour into ice pop moldsPut in freezer for 6-8 hours. Enjoy!

3. Coconut Berry Cloud Pie

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • egg whites – 6
  • powdered sugar – 1 1/2 cups
  • For the topping: –
  • berries – 1 1/2 cup mixed
  • coconut milk whipped cream – 1 cup

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Be careful here. If you get any yolk mixed in with the whites it won’t stiffen properly. I like to separate the eggs into a separate bowl and then transfer the whites into a larger bowl. That way, if one egg white gets lots of yolk in it, it won’t contaminate the whole lot.

Grease a 10 inch springform pan with GMO-Free canola oil. I like the spectrum brand.

Beat the egg whites until they stand up. I use a hand held mixer. It takes between 5 and 10 minutes. Your arm will get tired….When the egg white are stiff, start mixing in the sugar, spoonful by spoonful, so that it gets evenly incorporated. I use powdered sugar because it makes the cake even lighter and fluffier than granulated sugar. If you would like a bit of crisp to the crust, then use granulated sugar instead.

Put in the oven at 400 degrees. Immediately reduce to 250 degrees and cook for 90 minutes.After the 90 minutes are up, turn off the oven but leave the cake inside. Allow the oven to cool completely before you remove it.

Right before serving, whip up some Coconut Whipped Cream, top with berries and serve.

4. Grilled Chicken Satay

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • chicken – boneless 2/12 lbs
  • garlic – 6 cloves
  • agave – 3 teaspoons
  • tamari – 1/2 cup
  • ginger – 4 teaspoons
  • lime juice – 2 fresh squeezed
  • sesame oil – 1/3 cup
  • coriander – 4 teaspoons
  • black pepper – 1 teaspoon
  • Himalayan salt – 2 teaspoons

Instructions:

Cut the chicken breasts into 2 inch cubes. Set aside.Add all of the ingredients (minus the chicken) to a high speed blender and blend until mostly smooth.Put the chicken in a shallow dish. Pour marinade on. Mix well. Make sure that the chicken is completely coated. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours.When you are ready to cook, place the chicken on skewers. I usually use about 4 cubes per skewer.Make sure the grill is hot.Place on medium heat for @7 minutes a side.

5. Apple Lemonade

The key is to add 1/2 a lemon to every apple you juice.

Ingredients:

  • apple – 1, cored – preferably organic
  • lemon – 1/2 – preferably organic

Instructions:

Put the ingredients through the juicer.The reason I say to use an organic lemon is that I use the whole thing, peel and all. You don’t want the pesticides and waxy residue in your juice glass, so buy organic. (You should still rinse the lemon thoroughly before use.)You should core your apple before juicing it. Apple seeds contain cyanide which you most definitely don’t want in your kids drink!

Voilà! Happy cooking!

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips

5 Surprising Ways Sugar Gets To Your Family and How to Avoid It

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 5.02.48 PMWe all eat way too much sugar, many of us without even knowing it. Everyone knows that a candy bar, or a piece of cake, or a soda have a lot of sugar but how about your organic yogurt? Or the 100% real fruit juice you’re putting in your child’s lunchbox? Added sugars are coming from places that we don’t expect, and are way over our daily limits.

Here is a sugar shocker- the recommended daily allowance for sugar for children under 10 is just 4 grams (or 1 teaspoon). So, if your child’s snack has 12 grams of sugar – that is equivalent to 3 teaspoons – then they have already exceeded the RDA for added sugar.

Here are five ways sugar can sneak into your diet, even if you’re sticking to “healthy” options.

#1. Yogurt

Even the good organic yogurts have between 20 and 30 grams of sugar per serving. The yogurts marketed to kids have even more. If a yogurt has 30 grams of sugar that is equivalent to 7.5 teaspoons of sugar. Can you imagine handing your child 7.5 teaspoons of sugar for a snack?

Look for unsweetened and unflavored yogurts. Add your own fruit and a touch of honey for the same effect and WAY less sugar.

#2. Energy Bars

These can be deceiving. They can have as many as 20 grams of sugar (that’s 5 teaspoons of sugar) per bar. Read the labels. Look for bars that have less than 10 grams per bar. Often the same brand will have one bar that has a high sugar content and another that will be reasonable. Don’t be deceived by the organic varieties.

#3. Sports Drinks

These can have as many as 21 grams of sugar per 12oz serving. Keep in mind that many of these sugary drinks have more than one serving per bottle. That means in a 20oz bottle there are  approximately 9 teaspoons of sugar. Ouch!

Another killer is that these drinks contain high levels of sodium which dehydrate you, and dyes which are shown to cause hyperactivity in sensitive individuals. Drink coconut water or water instead.

#4.  Juice

On average a 7oz  juice box has 10 grams of sugar (the worst varieties have as many as 25 grams!) That is 2.5 teaspoons per juice box for the good varieties.

Drink water or dilute the juice 3 to 1. That will cut down on the sugar while still maintaining the taste.

#5. Breakfast cereal

Instant flavored oatmeal has 16 grams of sugar while a simple toasted rice cereal has 10grams. The sugary breakfast cereals are packed with even more sugar and have an average of 12 grams of sugar per ¾ cup serving. That’s 3 teaspoons per serving!

Look for low sugar cereals (less that 8 grams per serving) and eat unsweetened unflavored oatmeal. Add your own fruit, cinnamon and a little maple syrup.

The unhealthy truth is that if you give your child some instant oatmeal for breakfast, add a juice box and a yogurt to their lunchbox, and give them an energy bar and a sports drink for a snack after soccer practice, you have given them 27 grams of sugar. That’s 27 times the recommended daily allowance!

The healthy solution?  Read the nutrition labels carefully on whatever you buy and choose the lowest sugar varieties.

 

Article originally posted on my blog, Tapp’s Tips.

Photo credit: Ben McLeod

In Search of Healthy School Lunches

Conscious parenting is about caring for the whole child: body, mind and spirit. Some days, the body needs to come first. Do you know what your child is eating for lunch today?

Okay, I know I’m way behind in my posts and I have lots of things I intend to write about, but here it is: School lunches are scary.

If, indeed, you are what you eat, my kids are pepperoni pizza. Or possibly Tater Tots.

I’ve been waffling for about two years now, not sure how I wanted to approach our local school district; reluctant to get drafted for another committee, but consistently horrified by what I see on the lunch menu — when I am brave enough to look.

For example, the menu for next week includes cheese pizza on Monday, nachos with cheese and "cheesy refried beans" on Tuesday, grilled cheese sandwiches on Wednesday and a cheeseburger on Thursday.

What’s up with all the cheese? When did nachos become a meal?

I am afraid to visualize cheesy refried beans.

Friday will apparently be the healthy day, with "chicken sticks in a boat."

Argh.

Yes, I know I could send their lunches from home, (sometimes I do.) And people with peanut butter swirl ice cream in their freezers probably shouldn’t throw stones, but come on.

I should mention that our school district has a "wellness committee" and I do believe they have good intentions. All the major food groups are represented and nutritional information is included on the menu. Some sort of fruit and vegetable are served with each meal.

Still, the details are important. When I read our school lunch calendar, what I see are loads of fried foods, refined sugars and starches, sweetened fruits and the ubiquitous carton of milk, which according to my sons, is typically of the sweetened, chocolate variety.

And that nutritional info? It is reported as a weekly average, so you have no idea what each meal contains. If you are looking for an actual ingredients list, it ain’t there.

Dang it.

The topic is fresh in my mind because our school district is currently conducting a survey, to identify parents’ and students’ opinions of the school lunch program. Finally, the perfect opportunity to have my say: I have responded with gusto, adding as many comments as space allowed.

What would I like to see more of?

Fresh fruits and vegetables. Whole grains. Lean meats and healthy food combining. Options for dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian meals. Educational programs and a school-wide focus on healthy eating.

My younger son wants a sandwich and salad bar, like the one at his older brother’s school. (Why limit healthy options to a certain age range?)

What would I like to see less of?

Fatty and fried foods. Refined sugars and starches. Wheat and dairy. Packaged and processed snacks.

Any other suggestions?

Make the teachers and school administrators eat the same lunches that are served to our children.

Oops. Now I’ve gone too far.

I know this is not an easy fix. I’m sure there are dozens, if not hundreds of rules and regulations involved, all designed to keep our kids safe while we feed them junk. Yes, I could boycott school lunches all together, but that wouldn’t really help much.

I am regarding this survey as the universe’s call to action. It is time to speak up and get involved. The good news is, our school system is looking for input from parents and students alike.

The bad news is, I sense another committee in my future.

Your conscious parenting challenge for today:

I invite you to take a closer look at your child’s school lunch program and decide if action is required. Maybe it’s time to speak out.

Has your school district already implemented something healthy, new and creative? Please write in and share it with our readers. We could all use a little inspiration!

Related Posts:

For more on healthy family food choices, please see, "Organic Food 101: What Every Parent Should Know".

Just for fun: "Curse of the Monster Zucchini."  

Recommended Reading:

Here is something freaky. I was just browsing books on school lunch programs on Amazon and came across Free for All: Fixing School Food in America, by Janet Poppendieck. The product description starts with the line, "How did our children end up eating pizza, nachos and Tater Tots for lunch?"

The theme from Twilight Zone is running through my head.

Apparently my children are not the only ones eating this stuff. I’ve just ordered my copy of Janet’s book. Can’t wait to read it!

How to Get Your Kids Excited About Vegetables (Really!)

Vegetables are an important part of the Body Ecology lifestyle and every healthy family’s diet. Here are four easy ways to get your kids to eat more veggies!

(Originally published under Conscious Parenting with Meg Brown for BodyEcology.com)

Do you know any children who actually enjoy eating vegetables? I am acquainted with a few. I have a niece who appears to love them – she eats almost any green leafy vegetable with a smile on her face.
 
One of my son’s best friends consumes baby carrots like they’re candy. And a brother-sister team from across the street routinely polish off their dinner salads before even looking at the cheeseburgers on their plates.
 
Perhaps they are just being polite.
 
Perhaps my own children, when dining at other people’s homes, also impress the resident adults by eating all the vegetables in sight. I will have to check on that.
 
In the meantime, vegetable consumption is sadly still a bit of an issue at our house. I have to be creative, persistent and sometimes downright sneaky to get a reasonable amount of veggies into the boys’ daily diet.
 
Are vegetables really that important to your family’s health?

We’ve all heard about the benefits of eating vegetables: they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and fiber in our diets and may help prevent illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and several types of cancer.1

The story doesn’t stop there, however. A diet rich in vegetables is important because it supports the neutral-to-slightly-alkaline pH levels in the body that signal good health.
 
When poor dietary habits – and stress – lower the body’s pH levels, bones release calcium and magnesium, and muscles are broken down to produce ammonia. This restores alkalinity, but the long term effect is thinner bones and less muscle mass.2
 
With Body Ecology, the “Principle of 80/20” recommends filling our plates 80% with land vegetables, cultured vegetables and ocean veggies at every meal. Now we know why.
 
Let’s move on to the “how.” Here are 4 Easy Ways to get your kids excited about vegetables:

1. Plant a Vegetable Garden

It’s not too late to cultivate your own little patch of zucchini or field of cauliflower. Clear some space in the back yard, or create a container garden on your porch.
 
A family (or community) vegetable garden is a wonderful way to get kids excited about their veggies. I know that my own children are always more eager to eat something they have harvested themselves… hopefully, yours will be too.
 
2. Visit Your Local Farmers’ Market
 
Still waiting for that first zucchini to grow? Don’t despair. Make a family outing to your local farmers’ market.
 
Here is what you will find: A great variety of fresh, organic produce, coupled with a chance to meet and talk with the people who grow the food that shows up on your dinner table. How cool is that?
 
Make a game out of choosing a new vegetable to try at home each week, or let each child select their favorites.
 
3. Design Your Own Vegetable Smoothie  
 
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy cool, refreshing vegetable smoothies. Break out the blender and check out the vegetable drawer in your refrigerator. What’s in there?
 
Try the Good Morning Greens Smoothie recipe for inspiration, then get creative. Encourage your children to design their own recipes. My kids love making smoothies for our family!
 
Remember to add fermented foods and drinks  into your smoothies! Adding cultured vegetables or a sour, fruity flavor with a couple ounces of your favorite probiotic liquid multiplies the nutritional value of your smoothie. Probiotic-rich Innergy-Biotic is my personal favorite. 
 

4. Test Your Family’s pH Levels
 
Sometimes we need a little extra motivation, or a way to measure our progress. Perhaps just a tiny bit of healthy competition is in order.
 
You can purchase a pH level home test kit, like this one from pHion to check your family’s pH levels. The kit includes a testing protocol to ensure accurate measurements.
 
Remember, the goal is to promote healthy family practices. If your test results are not all that you hoped for, create a chart to map your progress and start eating more veggies!
 
I probably shouldn’t mention that my children enjoy peeing on the little test strips almost as much as charting their progress on healthy eating habits.
 
Oops, already said it.

 
Recommended Products:

As already mentioned, I recommend these pH Test Strips from pHion, to help your family track their own progress towards healthy eating habits.

My all-time favorite food book (not a cook book) is The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Resource for Healthy Living, by Rebecca Wood (author of another classic and Julia Child Cookbook Awards winner, The Splendid Grain). Read about the healing properties of every vegetable and herb in your garden… and then some.

Related Posts:

Read about my adventures in gardening, in Let’s Get Dirty.

Other recent articles for BodyEcology.com include, Are You and Your Family Getting Enough Vitamin D? and 5 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem with Mindful Eating.  

Sources:

1. Inside the Pyramid: Why is it important to eat vegetables? MyPyramid.Gov.

2. The pH Nutrition Guide to Acid / Alkaline Balance. NaturalNews.com

 

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