by Michelle Vicari, OAC Chairwoman
Our hectic on-the-go lifestyles can impact our family’s health. Rushing to and from school, work and other obligations can sometimes make it hard to make the healthiest choices – from nutritious food to physical activity. We know how these choices can negatively affect many aspects of our health, but we also know what a positive impact just a few healthier changes can make!
The New Year is a perfect time to establish fun, memorable family traditions such as cooking fresh meals together and being more active as a team. Let’s dive into some great examples!
Research has shown that simply eating together as a family can improve health1. Family meals are the perfect venue to talk about healthy eating habits. They are also a great way to engage in conversation about what nutritious food looks and tastes like.
But even better… how about creating a family meal together? There are so many lessons to be learned for children through hands-on cooking:
That sounds good in theory, but how do you get started? First, choose a healthy recipe at least once per week that you can cook together. Look for a recipe that uses a vegetable you’ve never tried or food from a country you want to learn more about. Pinterest.com has some great recipe boards (Try Produce for Kids; Kids Eat Right) or find a favorite
healthy cookbook at your local library (Try authors Elie Krieger or Catherine McCord). You can also try one of the following family-friendly recipes listed below.
Measure-out and mix dressing ingredients into a small bowl and set it aside. With adult supervision, chop and dice the vegetables and place them into a large bowl. Add dressing to taste. Toss to coat all vegetables. Top with crumbled feta cheese and chopped chicken. Enjoy!
Bonus: Extend the Activity!
Have your children identify Greece on a map. Greece is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, including races. After dinner, play a few rounds of “Egg & Spoon Race” together. Balance an egg (plastic, hard-cooked or even a tennis ball will work) on a wooden spoon and race to the finish line without dropping it.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 6-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray and place a fajita-sized tortilla in each, folding the tortilla slightly to fit. Bake the tortillas for 14 minutes or until crisp and golden on the edges. Under supervision, prepare and assemble your taco fillings.
Taco Filling Ingredients:
(Optional) Breakfast Taco Ingredients:
Bonus: Extend the Activity!
Tacos are an interpretation of a recipe with origins in Mexico. Mariachi music and dance are essential parts of Mexican culture. Search online for some Mariachi music, listen to its unique sounds, then feel the music and dance together.
Modeling to children that you value fitness helps to create a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy physical activity. Getting fit as a family does not have to be time-consuming or complex! Try to fit a few of the following fun activities into your family’s daily life and make them a habit.
I hope you will consider adopting a few of these ideas into your family’s life, and that 2019 is your family’s healthiest and happiest year yet!
About the Author:
Michelle “Shelly” Vicari, OAC Chairwoman, majored in Child Development and Family Studies as well as Political Science at San Diego State University. She is the former Curriculum Director of the largest National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited Child Care Centers in Southern California. She has authored many curriculum guides for teachers working with young children and was lucky enough to once meet Mr. Fred Rogers!
Hammons, A.J., & Fiese, B.H. (2011). “Is frequency of shared family meals related to the nutritional health of children and adolescents?” Pediatrics, 127 (6): 1565-1574.
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