There is not a single food or food group that will give us all the nutrition we need. Because our bodies have an extensive range of needs, it is essential to consume a large variety of foods.
Although there is no perfect food out there, there are “superfoods.” These foods are recognized as being nutrient-packed powerhouses and an excellent choice for improving and maintaining health. You can learn more about nutrients in our previous blog, “What Are Nutrients Anyway?”.
By incorporating more superfoods into our daily eating, we get more of the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants we need and all the amazing benefits that come with them.
Did you know avocado is a fruit? This fruit is well known for its high nutrient value and creamy texture. There are many reasons to incorporate more avocado into your meals.
Avocados’ rich creaminess makes them very versatile in the kitchen. You can even add avocado to desserts! You might be pleasantly surprised. Try this recipe: Avocado Chocolate Mousse.
Fish is packed with healthy fats, protein, vitamin B, and potassium.
Berries are a simple and delicious way to add lots of nutrients to our diets. Some berries to try are raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries.
Berries are very versatile. You can enjoy berries in your breakfast, desserts, salads, and smoothies, just to name a few possibilities. Berries can also be bought fresh or frozen and enjoyed all year long. Try adding berries on top of a Watermelon Pizza! Watch the Snack Science video to learn how to make it.
Another superfood that pairs great with berries is yogurt.
Double-check your labels when buying yogurt because many flavored yogurts contain high amounts of added sugar. Instead, look for just fruit or choose plain yogurt. You can always add your own fruits or a little honey to add some sweetness. Yogurt is also great in savory dishes! Try this Spinach Yogurt Dip.
Although they generally go by different names, you have probably had some of these vegetables before. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, and more.
An easy, kid friendly-way to eat these vegetables is by adding them to smoothies. Adding kale in a smoothie adds more vitamins and minerals without sacrificing the taste.
Legumes are fantastic for a quick and affordable meal with a range of health benefits! Some common legumes are beans, peas, chickpeas, peanuts, and lentils.
Beans typically come dried, canned, or frozen, and can easily be added to many of the dishes we already eat. Try this recipe for Chickpea/Spinach Salad with Cilantro Dressing.
Oats are one of the healthiest grains out there. They are beneficial due to their high levels of fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients.
Oats are most commonly eaten for breakfast as oatmeal, but they can be found in granola bars, cereals, and many other baked goods. Adding berries and nut butter to our oatmeal can be an excellent way to add even more vitamins and antioxidants
Each of these foods is high in micronutrients and macronutrients that have benefits for our health. By eating a varied diet, we can keep our bodies healthy and happy. To see more recipes using these superfoods and more, make sure to check out our Snack Science Video Series. Comment below to let us know how you’re incorporating superfoods into your meals!
One of the best ways to stay cool during the summer is by enjoying a cold and hydrating snack. What we eat directly impacts our health and ability to keep fresh in the heat. In our most recent blog, we provided tips to beat the heat. One of the ways we mention was by staying hydrated and enjoying cooling meals. Eating healthy and hydrating food during warm weather, when the body loses water and vital electrolytes through sweating, can help keep hydration levels up and provide essential nutrients. Here are some of our favorite nutritious recipes that are great for the summer months.
A fan favorite summertime treat is none other than the watermelon! Not only is watermelon tasty and filling. It is also 94% water and is excellent for preventing overheating. Due to its high water content, they can help us stay hydrated, which is essential if you plan on spending time outdoors.
Our Watermelon Pizza is a fun and refreshing take on the fruit. To make it use a sharp knife, cut off a slice of watermelon right down the middle, about 2-3 inches thick. Use a spatula to spread an even layer of yogurt around the watermelon, leaving a bit of empty space. Layer your fresh fruit on top as you please.
You can add as few or as many toppings as you like. We like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or cherries. If you use strawberries, cut them in half before adding to your "pizza." We recommend drizzling honey on it if you want a little extra sweetness. Pro tip: Using locally produced honey may help people with seasonal allergies.
Watch this HealthStart Snack Science video to make watermelon pizza with HealthStart Sharon!
Find the full recipe here.
Hummus is high in fiber that promotes digestive health and feeds your good gut bacteria. It is also a good source of plant-based protein so it will keep us feeling satisfied for longer, so we can focus on the day ahead. Carrots, cucumbers, and peppers are all full of vitamins and water.
Make your hummus cups by placing a few tablespoons of hummus at the bottom of a small container, then stand raw veggie sticks, like carrots, cucumbers, and peppers, in the hummus. Find the full recipe here.
Nothing says summer like a popsicle on a sunny day. These breakfast popsicles will satisfy any sweet tooth, and they are also nutritious. This treat is made with Greek yogurt, which has more protein and a thicker, creamier, and tangier flavor than regular yogurt. It also contains beneficial nutrients such as protein, calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.
Here's how you can make your own breakfast popsicles: first slice strawberries, blueberries, and kiwis into small pieces. Mix the cut fruit with yogurt. Pour the yogurt and fruit mixture into cups and pop them into the freezer. Don't forget to place a popsicle stick in the popsicle mixture before placing it in the freezer if you prefer eating the treat on a stick like a traditional popsicle. Once it's frozen, you can remove it from the cup and enjoy.
These popsicles aren't limited to the fruits we recommend. Each cup can be personalized with your own favorite fruit. Try mixing in granola for an added crunch.
Find the full recipe here.
Spinach Fruit Salad
Frozen desserts aren't the only snacks that can keep us cool during the summer heat. Vegetables also have high water content making salads a great source of water during the warmer months.
Leafy vegetables, like spinach, contain lots of water to help us stay hydrated, they also have properties that help boost our immune system. In fact, spinach is 91% water. It can help strengthen our bones, which is especially important for growing bodies, and it is rich in Vitamin K, which helps stabilize calcium in bones.
In a bowl, add fresh spinach, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple or peaches, walnuts, and red onions and toss it all together. In a small jar, stir together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to create the salad dressing. Gently mix the salad ingredients and the dressing, and then it's ready to enjoy. For exact measurement check out the full recipe.
Pumpkin Ice Cream
Ice cream tastes great when it's hot outside. Most at-home recipes for ice cream include some kind of dairy ingredient. Did you know you can make healthy and delicious ice cream without dairy by using frozen bananas? This banana-pumpkin recipe is perfect for those who want a frozen treat but can't have dairy. The pumpkin is also terrific for you because it is one of the best-known sources of beta carotene. Food with high amounts of beta carotene may help us by offering protection against asthma and heart disease.
Using a blender or food processor, blend the bananas, pumpkin, maple syrup, and pumpkin spice thoroughly. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for 24 hours. Let it rest on the counter for a while before eating to let it thaw so it will be easier to scoop
If you don't like pumpkin, you can substitute it with a cup of frozen berries to make a healthy berry ice cream. Find the full recipe here.
We hope these recipes keep you cool and comfortable. If you recreate any of the recipes, let us know by tagging us on any of our social media pages.
For more delicious recipes and tips for maintaining happy and healthy bodies, check out our Snack Science Video Series.
Summer is here in full force. July and August are usually the hottest months of the year. During the summer, we would normally be heading to movie theaters, hopping into pools, and dining in restaurants to escape the heat. With the closures of some indoor locations and social distancing concerns, many families have taken recreational activities outdoors.
Taking time to go outside and get vitamin D is proven beneficial for our mental health and immune system. However, extended time out in the heat can lead to some unintended issues.
What are some problems that severe heat might cause? Being outside and active in the heat can cause dehydration and increase our body’s internal temperature, leading to heat rash, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. Thankfully there are some ways to stay cool this summer and beat this heat.
The past few months have had a huge impact on many of the families in our community. Due to COVID-19, many people have not been able to work because of recent closures and health concerns. Job loss has left some families struggling to make healthy and nutritious meals while sticking to their budgets.
Although it might seem impossible right now, it is incredibly important to look after our health. Maintaining a healthy diet is especially important because it keeps our immune system ready to fight infections and viruses. In the Health Education for Youngsters! Curriculum, we learn that for our bodies to stay healthy and strong, we need to eat whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Whole foods give us nutrients like antioxidants and Vitamin C, which are essential to boost your immune system. Because our bodies require a healthy balance of real food, ensuring we have all the nutrients we need is a top priority.
Making nutritious meals and prioritizing our health doesn’t have to be more expensive. To make eating healthy on a budget a little easier, we have made a 3 step guide with tips on what to do before, during, and after a trip to the grocery store. Let’s begin with some steps you can follow before going to the grocery store.
Many of us are experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety during this time. Our kids may feel stressed too. For many of us, when COVID-19 forced schools to move classes online, businesses to close down, and families and friends to “social distance,” the virus upended our lives.
Around this time of year, many kids would be attending summer camps, going on vacation, and visiting friends, but social distancing and closures of parks and recreational sites may make those things unavailable. Moreover, kids have seen and heard scary things about the virus.
All these changes may lead to an increase in stress levels in children. According to a Gallup Poll, nearly 3 in 10 (29%) parents say their child is “already experiencing harm” to their emotional or mental health because of social distancing and closures.
Things are not likely to return to normal anytime soon. Many schools are still trying to figure out what classes will look like in the fall. As schools prepare to resume, they want to support children’s social and emotional needs as they get used to a new normal.
Have you turned on the news to see protesters on your community streets? If so, your kids may questions. Young kids especially may have asked why people were holding signs or why they seemed angry or upset. The news reports on the protests demanding change have started to grab the attention of many people. If you haven't had a chance to talk with your kids so they can make sense of the current events, we offer some tips below for answering their questions and resources parents can use to start a conversation.
Guest Post by Jessica Lawernce
As I hear stories of districts’ dire need to balance a budget that is hurting and has been hurting for years and years, I hear that some might cut the one content area that not only could have prevented the widespread infection rates of COVID-19, but could have helped so many young people and adults cope, advocate, & access to keep themselves and loved ones safe… health education.
Many adults outside the education field still remember their health education experience as memorizing the bones of the body, or learning about the birds & the bees in binary male/female groupings. School administrators still stereotype health education as a thorn in their side with controversial topics such as addiction, suicide and sex education. This is not what current, quality health education is about anymore. In fact, if you haven’t viewed Andy Milne’s TEDx, This is Not Your Parent’s Health Class, watch it now! His message is delivered in three parts – an apology for many of the bad practices from health class, a message of hope from the direction in which todays health class is focused, and a plea for community members to embrace our students for their passion, vision and drive so that together we can improve the health of our community.
In this short and sweet crash course, we’ll give you a quick run-down of what nutrients are, and why they are essential for our health.
One of the best ways to keep from getting sick is to eat foods that boost our immune system! It is important to incorporate a variety of whole foods into your child’s diet, and encourage them to eat foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support healthy body functions. However, certain nutrients are known for keeping our immune system strong, like Vitamin C, which helps build the white blood cells responsible for fighting off infections, and destroys free-radicals in the body. Beta-carotene, Vitamin D, and Zinc are also known to increase immune function!
Here are some quick and easy snacks that put the Vitamin “C” in deliCious!
Do your kids have the shelter-in-place blues? Just because we have to stay at home doesn’t mean we have to be bored!
Here are 5 fun activities for kids you can do from your own home that help our little ones move their bodies and stimulate their brains.
Craft an art project:
Listen to a story:
Do a science experiment:
Make a snack:
You can find these activities and much more on our website at https://www.healthstartfoundation.org/snackscience.html.
2. Practice Reading Skills with a Scavenger Hunt
Ahoy Mateys! Do you want to learn vocabulary words and hunt for treasure at the same time? If you have a child who is practicing reading skills, try setting up an indoor scavenger hunt!
3. Experience the Animal Kingdom
You don’t have to go outside to learn about nature! Bring nature to your child by having them learn about different animals.
4. Take a Nature Walk
Feeling a little stir-crazy? Gather the whole family and take a walk outside to check out the area around you! This is a great opportunity for kids to learn about different landforms, plants, and animals as well as practice observation skills in order to discover and identify the unique qualities of what they see.
5. Create a Sock Puppet Theatre
This activity is fantastic because it is a combination of a crafting, writing, and dramatic play rolled into one!
Do you have a favorite stay-at-home activity for kids? Feel free to share it below in the comments for other families to see. Be sure to join our Snack Science Video Series and try out these activities so we can stay healthy and strong together, at home!
References: Richards, Mari. "7 Super Fun DIY Sock Puppets." Handmade Charlotte, March 4th, 2014. https://www.handmadecharlotte.com/7-diy-sock-puppets/
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