by Sarah Muntel, RD
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“I’m bored!” School is out for the summer, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and kids are looking for things to do. Summer can be a great time to get outdoors, reconnect with friends and family and have a little fun.
This summer, it’s time to step away from the iPad and find some fun things to do outside!
There are many benefits of getting your kids outdoors this summer. First, kids need to move. We all know about the increasing childhood obesity rates, and having your kids active is one way to help prevent childhood obesity.
Playing outside and being active will increase sleep, and that’s a big one for parents. Also, kids need Vitamin D – and what better way to get this than from sunshine! Lastly, playing outside is fun and has been shown to lead to happier kids.
Sometimes, we all need a little push to get outdoors. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
A bucket of chalk will provide hours of entertainment!
Body Tracing – Have everyone take a turn lying on the driveway for the kids to trace each other. Then have fun coloring-in and adding accessories!
Coloring Contest – Who can draw the prettiest flower? Have a contest to see.
Connect the Dot Puzzles – Challenge each child to make a dot-to-dot puzzle, then fill them in.
Hop Scotch and Twister – These classics are always a hit!
Draw Self Portraits – This can be almost comical. Have kids draw themselves, or better yet – you!
Fun Toss Games
Who doesn’t like a challenge?
Ring Toss – This summer, collect old milk jugs or juice containers. Label them each with a point value, then pick up some diving rings and use these to toss. Keep score and see who gets the most points.
Grand Prize Game – Grab some buckets and tennis balls and set them up in a line of six or seven. Have kids try to get the ball in each bucket and see who can go the furthest!
Corn Hole – Drag your corn hole game out of the garage and set it up for kids to use.
Fun with water
Because what’s summer without a little water!
Water Balloons – Fill up some balloons with
water for balloon toss, or even hold a water balloon fight.
Sprinklers – A sprinkler can add so much fun to
your day. Set up one or two for even more fun!
Pool Time – Set up a baby pool full of water.
Add toys, sponges, kitchen utensils and even a little soap for bubbles!
Water gun fight! Pick up some water guns and ask the neighborhood kids to come over for a fun water fight. How about a sponge toss? Giant sponges filled with water can lead to water-drenched fun!
Old School Games
Remember the games you used to play as a kid?
Capture the flag; Duck, duck goose; Four square – remember those as a kid? These games can provide hours of entertainment.
Scavenger hunt – Put together a list of outdoor items for kids to collect (yellow flowers, bugs, brown rocks, etc.). Provide them with bags and see who wins!
Healthy Summer Recipes
Blueberry Yogurt Smoothie
- 1½ cups fat-free natural plain yogurt
- 1 package frozen blueberries
- 2 ripe bananas
- ½ cup no pulp, 100% natural orange juice
Put all ingredients into a blender. Liquefy and add more orange juice if the consistency is too thick. It comes out a beautiful purple color!
Chunky Peach Popsicles
- 1¼ pounds ripe peaches (3-4 medium), halved and pitted
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- ¼ cup sugar, or to taste
- ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Coarsely chop peaches in a food processor. Transfer 1 cup of the chunky peaches to a medium bowl. Add lemon juice, orange juice and sugar to taste (depending on the sweetness of the peaches) to the food processor. Puree until smooth. Add to the bowl with the chunky peaches and stir in vanilla.
Divide the mixture among twelve 2-ounce or eight 3-ounce freezer-pop molds (or small paper cups).
Freeze until beginning to set, about 1 hour. Insert frozen-treat sticks and freeze until completely firm, about 1 hour more.
Don’t Forget to Cook Out!
Get together friends, family and neighbors for an evening of food fun. Add some music and decorations, and enjoy an evening of fun!
Healthy Tip: Try a substitution – swap out high-carbohydrate foods for healthier selections. For example, swap cauliflower for potatoes to sneak in some extra veggies. This will taste SO good, and no one will even know the difference!
And don’t forget your protein… Try this next recipe for some delicious flavor!
Low Carb “Cauliflower” Potato Salad
- 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small bite-sized pieces
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup dill pickles, finely chopped
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- Juice of half lemon
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. thinly sliced scallions
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. chopped dill
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 4 Romaine lettuce leaves
Steam cauliflower until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly.
Add mayonnaise, yogurt, pickles, onion, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Toss to combine, ensuring the cauliflower is evenly coated. Taste and adjust seasoning. Fold in 1/3 cup each of scallions and dill. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
When ready to serve, sprinkle paprika and remaining herbs over the salad. Lay lettuce leaves on a platter and scoop salad on top.
- 1 cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large glass bowl, mix lemon juice, vegetable oil, vinegar, oregano and garlic powder. Place chicken pieces in the bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.
Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil grate.
On the prepared grill, cook chicken until no longer pink and juices run clear. Periodically brush chicken with the remaining marinade mixture while cooking. Discard any leftover marinade.
Now it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy your summer while focusing on health and wellness. Your kids will thank you for it!
About the Author:
Sarah Muntel, RD, is a Registered Dietitian and Bariatric Coordinator at Community Bariatric Surgeons in Indianapolis, IN. She has worked with bariatric surgery patients for 17 years and especially enjoys leading support groups. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.