5 Fruit Myths That Will Make You Think Twice About What You Pack for Kids’ Lunches

Don’t believe everything food manufacturers tell you. Here is the truth about “healthy” fruit cups, juice boxes and more:

Myth 1: Fruit Is Fine at Room Temperature

If you’re not putting cold packs in your child’s lunchbox, now is a great time to start. Keeping school lunches cool prevents bacteria from growing and it gives you more flexibility for menu planning. ALWAYS chill fruit.

Isn’t fruit OK at room temperature? Unpeeled fruit, i.e. whole apples, bananas, pears and peaches, is safe to store that way. But who wants to eat mushy strawberries and warm oranges? I sure don’t.

The moment you peel or cut fruit, it needs to be refrigerated. Put apple wedges, sliced pears or melon chunks into an airtight container right next to the cold pack.

Myth 2: Fruit Snacks These Days Are “Made With Real Fruit Juice”

ONE TINY POUCH of “healthy” fruit snacks can have the equivalent of 2 1/2 teaspoons of sugar! The ones with “real fruit” often include concentrated apple juice, which has such a high sugar content it’s practically the same as high-fructose corn syrup.

Unless you want to give kids candy for lunch, choose a different option. I like to bake oatmeal-raisin cookies or blueberry muffins since I control the amount of sugar.

Myth 3: Every Lunch Needs Fruit Juice

One of the most common myths is that juice boxes are a “normal” part of school lunches. Actually, experts recommend water and milk as the most important drinks for kids.

Juice can be a healthy choice, but it’s not easy finding the right brand. Despite the colorful pictures of fruit slices on the box, many of these drinks are 90% sugar and only 10% (or 0%) actual fruit juice. Even 100% fruit juice can have lots of added sugar.

Choose juices that list “water” and “fruit juice” as the two primary ingredients. Better yet, make your own tasty juice blend for kids when they get home from school.

Myth 4: Kid-Friendly Yogurt and Fruit Cups Are Healthy

For some reason, many parents have the idea that manufacturers create kid-friendly versions of food to help moms and dads feed good stuff to kids. Yeah, right. These huge food companies are interested in profits via lots of sugar.

“Kid” yogurt, even without sprinkles and cookies, isn’t healthy. Fruit cups are packed with extra sugar, too. Of course, I’m not saying you should choose totally plain yogurt for kids — unless you add fresh fruit yourself.

For something less sweet than kids’ yogurt but more convenient than homemade versions, choose Greek yogurt. It usually has much less sugar.

Myth 5: All Fruit Is Great for School

Don’t forget about portion control when it comes to fruit. Some types of fruit have a significant amount of natural sugar. For example, one banana has half a child’s recommended amount of sugar for the entire day!

Instead of tossing a whole banana in the lunchbox, serve one-third or half a banana. Keep cut fruit from browning by squeezing a little lemon juice over the top.

Real fruit has incredible nutrients that help your children develop into healthy adults. It’s smart to teach your kids to love these tasty alternatives to junk food. Take a little time for menu planning or talk to a nutritional expert to save time.

Delightful Herbed Frittata Recipe

Hey everybody! This is SUCH a good Fritatta recipie that I just had to share it with you all. I tried it with my own family and it was a total home-run! Try making this today and I promise you that you will wow the fam.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs and 12 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup shredded Colby-Monterrey jack cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh herb, chopped (parsley, thyme leaves, cilantro, chives)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Directions


  1. Whisk eggs and water in a bowl.
  2. Add herbs, red bell pepper, black pepper, and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Mix together.
  3. Spray a quiche dish with non-stick spray. Pour egg mixture into it.
  4. Top with the remaining cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until fluffed and golden.
  5. Slice like pie and serve with more fresh herbs for sprinkling on top. Goes well with melon slices and strawberries.

DIY Arts and Crafts to Entertain Kids

Let’s get real, parents. When your kids are bored, they’re more likely to drive you up the wall. Since summer is right around the corner, you should start figuring out how you're all going to survive. For the sake of your sanity, it’s well worth your time to brainstorm things to do that will keep your kids absorbed. That way they won’t constantly bicker, bug you, or getting into trouble. It’s a win/win situation! Here are a few simple DIY arts and crafts that can keep your kids entertained for hours. (you’re welcome).

Fairy Jar

This fairy jar is the stuff kids’ dreams are made of. Here’s how to make it.

  1. Round up the following items;
  • One or more mason jars
  • Glow sticks
  • Glitter (for extra pizazz, choose diamond glitter)
  • Serrated knife

 2. Cut off the bottom of a glow stick. Place a towel beneath it to catch any spills.

 3. Dump the glow stick contents into the jar. Be very careful. Glow sticks have glass inside!

 4. Dump your glitter of choice into the jar. Put in as much as you want.

 5. To make sure the glow stick fluid spreads freely, break the glass glow stick component with the end of a knife while it’s in your jar.

 6. Put the lid on and shake things up like crazy!

You now have a beautiful fairy jar that will last up to 8 hours. For best results, create this craft at night.

Mini Lid Banjos

These banjos are not only adorable, but they can keep your kids enthralled for hours on end. Here’s how to make them:

  1. Gather your supplies. You’ll need:
  • Washi tape
  • Duct tape
  • Jumbo craft sticks
  • Craft glue
  • Loom bands
  • Sequins
  • Jar lids

 2. Place four loom bands around each jar lid. There should be a small gap between each band.

 3. Secure the bands in place with a piece of duct tape on the top side of the lid.

 4. Cut the end of a jumbo craft stick off (just about 1”).

 5. Wrap washi tape around the remaining craft stick to decorate it.

 6. Attach the lid (with the bands on it) to the flat end of the craft stick using another piece of duct tape.

 7. On the opposite, rounded end of the craft stick, place four small dabs of glue.

 8. Stick your plastic gems to the glue.

 9. Voila! You have the cutest little banjo there ever was.

Have your kids create many more so they can start a neighborhood band!

DIY Racetrack

This fun little activity will bring out the kid in anyone. It also exercises creativity, which is a great thing to do in a world of mindless electronic entertainment. Here’s how to create this fun activity.

  1. Gather your supplies. You’ll need:
  • Washi tape
  • A pencil with an eraser
  • Toy cars

 2. Find a corner in your home that doesn’t get used too frequently. This project works best on hardwood floor, but it will work on low-pile carpet as well.

 3. Envision how the room would look if it were a racetrack. Use light pencil lines to create your road outlines, if desired.

 4. Place washi tape down in strips to create roads.

 5. Use the washi tape to form buildings and parking lots wherever you want.

6. Get the cars out and play!

You can make your track as large or as small as you want. Keep in mind that larger tracks tend to keep kids entertained for longer periods of time.

Ways To Use Household Items for Workouts

Have you ever looked at a nice home gym set and thought “I’d need to cash out my life insurance policy to afford that”? It may be your dream to one day have a professional-looking workout area in your home, but you probably shouldn’t go into debt to make it happen. Fortunately, you don’t have to! There are plenty of items in your house that you can use for your workouts, without spending an extra dime on unnecessary equipment.

Sure, you might look and feel silly while using these items, but who cares? No one is there to see you. Besides, by the time you see your newly toned body in the mirror, you won’t care that you achieved your look with the help of a jar of pickles. So, without further ado, here are some easy ways to use household items for your workouts.

Broom-Lift Superman

If you’ve done the Superman exercise before, you know how good it is for strengthening your back muscles. Now, you can up the ante by adding weight to this already challenging workout. Here’s how.

  1. Get a broom and a pair of shoes.

  2. Tie the shoes at the laces, leaving a gap beneath the knots.

  3. Slide the tied shoelaces onto the broom handle and position them so that one shoe is hanging from one end of the broom and the other shoes is hanging from the other end.

  4. Place the broom down on the floor and lie down, face-down with the broom a few inches from your head.

  5. Grab onto the broom with both hands and straighten your arms out in front of you. Go for a wide grip with your arms out further than shoulder-width apart.

  6. Take a deep breath, tighten your core, and lift your arms off the floor as high as you comfortably can.

  7. Hold the position for five seconds.

  8. Return to your starting point while exhaling.

  9. Repeat the process 10-12 times.

You can make this exercise more challenging by lifting your legs as you lift your arms.

Water Jug Squats

A simple water jug can feel like a ton of bricks if you lift it long enough. To get a killer workout that will tone and shape your glutes and quads, do the following workout:

  1. Hold a water jug in front of your chest.

  2. Stand with your feet in a wide-squat stance with the toes turning slightly outward.

  3. While tightening your core, lower yourself into a squat.

  4. Hold your squat for five seconds.

  5. Come back to a standing position.

  6. Repeat this process for up to 30 reps.

To challenge yourself even further, hold the water jug further away from your body as you squat. This will work your chest, shoulders and arms. Just make sure you hold your core in tight so you don’t compromise your form while doing this challenging exercise.

Wall Push-Ups

Are you trying to work your way up to a standard push-up? I’m right there with you. To strengthen your push-up muscles in an easy way, all you need is a blank wall. Here’s how to do quick and easy wall push-ups.

  1. Stand about 2 feet from a wall with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Place your arms straight out in front of you against the wall.
  3. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your body towards the wall while leaning forward on your feet.
  4. When your nose almost touches the wall, return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat this process 10-15 times.

High Calorie Foods That Are Actually Healthy

If you’re trying to eat healthy and watch your waistline, calories may seem like the enemy. It’s a well-known fact that some of the unhealthiest foods are absolutely full of empty calories. But not all calories are bad. In fact, they’re crucial for your health and survival.

Check out this list of nutritious foods that are surprisingly high in calories, and you’ll see firsthand that you can achieve optimum health by including quality high-calorie foods in your diet. Just make sure you eat them sparingly, because any high-calorie food can make you gain weight if you eat too much of it.

1. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is one of the most versatile high-calorie foods out there. You can find it in everything from Asian cuisine sauces to candy bars. It also happens to be good for you. This delectable nut butter provides a decent amount of protein, as well as vitamins and minerals such as zinc, magnesium and potassium.

Unfortunately, you won’t reap the health benefits of peanut butter if your daily serving comes from a candy bar or cookie dough batter. Instead, try smearing a tablespoon of smooth and creamy peanut butter into the crevices of fresh celery stalks. The peanut butter will help satiate you and the celery will delivery a powerful punch of vitamins and minerals (plus, it has an incredible crunch).

2. Nuts

Nuts are amazing snack foods  because they fill you up so effectively. This is partially because of their high calorie content (which tops at a 190 calories per ounce for some varieties). But don’t let that scare you away.

Nuts are rich in protein, fiber and various essential nutrients. Try substituting a small handful of nuts for your favorite unhealthy crunchy foods, such as chips or cookies.

3. Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is a funny-looking grain that hasn’t yet become popular in many American dishes. But if people realized how nutritious this little grain is, they’d want to eat more of it every day! Quinoa is one of the few complete proteins in this world (which means it contains 9 essential amino acids). It’s also high in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, which are both great for controlling diabetes. Be careful to eat it in moderation, though, since a single cup of the cooked stuff contains 222 calories.

4. Olive Oil

There are some types of oil that have a bad reputation for a reason. Low-quality oils such as vegetable oil or canola oil are full of omega-6 fatty acids, which can be harmful for your body if consumed in large amounts. Olive oil, on the other hand, has a much healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. It also has strong ant-inflammatory properties and may help you manage your blood pressure. Who knew?

Olive oil has just under 120 calories per tablespoon, so try not to go crazy with it. Just a teaspoon here and there will do you good. Try drizzling a bit on a fresh salad or using it to cook your vegetables and meats.

3 Protein Packed Breakfasts To Kickstart Your Day

To get the full fat-burning benefits of a high-protein breakfast, you should always aim for at least 20 grams of protein. If you hit the range of 30–39 grams, that’s even better for slimming your waistline.

A 7-oz. serving of Greek yogurt has you covered all the way (20 grams). You can also pair two large eggs (13 grams) with 1 oz of your favorite cheese (about 6 grams) and a slice of whole-wheat bread (3 grams). Here are a few of my preferred high-protein breakfasts:

1. The Brilliant: Smoked Salmon on Whole-Grain Toast

When you’re in a massive hurry, nothing beats the combination of speed and flavor of whole-grain toast with smoked salmon. Even better, there are endless ways to customize it depending on your mood. To get your SoCal vibe on, add a few slices of smashed avocado.

Salmon is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, which are perfect for keeping you alert, happy and energized during the day. They take amazing care of your brain and heart while helping you burn calories.

Pop a slice or two of whole-grain bread into the toaster, then layer on delicious cream cheese or cottage cheese. Top each slice with 1 oz of salmon and your favorite microgreens. Personally, I love alfalfa sprouts, chopped chives and a sprinkle of lemon.

2. The Exotic: Turkish Fried Eggs

Eggs are one of the best sources of protein for breakfast, so you’re probably going to be including them at the breakfast table often. How can you give them a spectacular twist that gets you excited every morning? Try transforming fried eggs or omelets with exotic inspirations.

For Turkish eggs, start by sauteing garlic, spinach, red onions and chopped chili peppers in olive oil. As soon as the onions start to caramelize, pop in two or three eggs and cook to your liking. Serve this colorful combination and top with a generous portion of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of salt and lemon juice.

3. The Fun: Quinoa With Almonds and Bananas

This one’s for all you moms out there. It’s super easy to make and extremely popular with kids. That means no fighting and no drama in the morning, which is honestly a blessing when there’s not much time before the school bus arrives.

Quinoa is a nutritious millennial grain that’s a breeze to cook. It’s like eating a bunch of jelly-filled pearls, so little kids have a blast. The chopped bananas and almonds add a nice touch of sweetness and crunch to the mix, making this breakfast favorite irresistible for small taste buds. Finish it off with some 1% milk or soy milk for nutritious and delicious creaminess.

Tasty Alternatives to Red Meat

Red Meat Alternatives

Red meat has been linked to many different health problems, including some cancers, heart disease and obesity. But it’s so tasty! Fortunately, ditching red meat doesn’t mean you have to opt for protein sources that taste like cardboard. ​satisfied without raising your risk of an early death.

Here are a few tasty alternatives to red meat that will keep you satisfied without raising your risk of an early death.

Cooked Chicken

Chicken is the most popular meat in the United States, and it’s not hard to see why. The simple bird may not be much to look at, but it produces meat that’s lean and tasty. There are so many ways to enjoy chicken. You can stir-fry it with vegetables, pan-fry the choicest cuts, bake it to the perfect, moist consistency, or grill it to get those beautiful charcoal lines.

Grilled Chicken

The fact is, cooked chicken is much better for your cardiovascular health than red meat. It also contains protein, which is one of the building blocks of healthy muscle. If you’re looking for ways to cut back on red meat, simply replace it with chicken. You won’t feel deprived at all.

Veggie Burgers

Yes, we’re going to talk about veggie burgers. Before you flip off your screen in disgust, hear me out. If you use the right seasonings, veggie burgers can be just as delicious as thick, juicy hamburgers. Don’t believe me? Well, you are welcome to try to prove me wrong.

The key to making a great veggie burger is to actually make it grillable. Most veggie burgers have very fragile textures and tend to fall apart when grilled. However, there are recipes for veggie burgers that hold together quite well.

Veggie Burger

These recipes usually include a variety of wet mashed ingredients (including black beans and barbecue sauce) as well as rice and seasonings. Adding bread crumbs to your recipe can also help hold all the ingredients together.

When done right, a veggie burger can be so flavorful and satisfying that you’ll forget it’s not made from beef. And the health benefits of veggie burgers are undeniable. You’ll receive plenty of fiber, vitamins and minerals. You’ll also avoid the high levels of fats found in traditional hamburgers.

Baked Fish

Fish can be a great alternative to red meat. But did you know the way you cook your fish affects how healthy it is? When fish is boiled or baked, it’s associated with more heart-healthy benefits than dried, fried or salted fish.

Baked Fish

Many nutritionists recommend eating fish at least twice each week. It’s best to choose an oily variety, including herring, salmon and tuna. This will give you the maximum benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids have been linked to decreased risk of heart disease.
If you’re used to having a meal that includes beef multiple times per week, switch to healthy fish instead. Your heart will thank you.

Eggs

Eggs may be small, but they’re highly satisfying and packed with protein. They also contain vitamin D, choline and other nutrients your body needs. Eggs make a great replacement for red meat. Instead of topping your favorite salad with beef slices, top it with slices of hard-boiled eggs.

Eggs

You can also swap out your beef-and-potato hashes with egg-and-potato alternatives. Eggs taste good in many different dishes, so feel free to experiment until you find a combination you love.

Legumes

Did you know one, ½ cup serving of cooked legumes provides as much protein as 1 ounce of meat? Legumes are also full of fiber, which keeps you satiated longer. In contrast, animal protein doesn’t’ have any fiber at all. If you’re looking for healthy alternatives to red meat, add more legumes and beans to your diet.

Legumes

How To Create Cheap and Healthy Meals for Your Family

How To Create Cheap and Healthy Meals for Your Family

Many people think that “healthy” is synonymous with “expensive,” but I love proving them wrong. With a little forethought, you can save money each month while still providing your family with nutritious and delicious meals every night (or as often as you want to cook).

Here’s how to create cheap and healthy meals you can proudly feed to your family.

Set a Budget

Listen up. Eating healthy isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg unless you don’t set a budget for your groceries. The very first step you should take when creating a healthy meal schedule is to figure out how much you can spend on groceries.

Once you have a number, you can look for recipes that fit within your budget. This will take you a little bit of time, but it’s absolutely worth it.

“Healthify” Your Favorite Meals

You don’t have to completely change your palate to enjoy healthy foods. Instead, take recipes you already know you like and make a few tweaks here and there to “healthify” them.

Healthify

Here are some of the top ways to make the most delectable unhealthy recipes a lot healthier.

  • Make one or more healthy substitutions. Use fat-free milk instead of whole milk, trade enriched pasta with whole-wheat pasta, or cut the meat content in half and add more vegetables.
  • Reduce the amount of salt, fat and sugar. Too much salt, fat and sugar aren’t good for your health (not to mention your waistline!) Here are some easy ways to limit the amounts of these ingredients in your meals.
  • Salt - To cut back on salt, try using other seasonings to flavor your food. Thyme, cayenne, allspice and oregano can all add great flavor to your food and can reduce your need to use salt.
  • Fat - To make sure your baked goods are still deliciously soft while cutting back on fat from butter, just use half the butter. You can replace the other half of the butter with mashed banana, unsweetened applesauce or prune puree.
  • Sugar - To limit your sugar intake, add up to ½ less sugar than what’s called for in your favorite recipes. You can make up the difference by adding other sweet ingredients, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice or cloves. Flavorings such as almond or vanilla extract can also add the most delightful hint of sweetness.
  • Make your portion sizes smaller. One of the easiest ways to cut back on calories is to simply make portion sizes smaller. This will not only help you save money, but it may save your waistline, as well!

Figure Out What Ingredients Your Kids Will Eat

A little experimentation with healthy foods can help you figure out what your kids love, hate and tolerate. Remember to be creative. Your kids may think they hate carrots, but might change their minds if you puree some cooked carrots with a bit of olive oil, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Kids Meals

Once you figure out what healthy components your kids like, you can rotate them into your meals regularly.

Take It a Week at a Time

Making nutritious meals can get overwhelming if you think too far ahead. While some people thrive on creating month-long dinner schedules, most people do best when they take it a week at a time.

Every weekend, take a few minutes to figure out your meal and grocery needs for the next week. Pick up all your groceries in a single trip, if possible. This will save you precious time and stress.

Healthy Breakfast