Once fall rolls around, time seems to quickly accelerate towards the holidays. Before one can even pick out a Halloween costume the stores and television ads are already geared toward holiday shopping. With the craziness of the holiday season about to ensue, it’s important to prioritize quality time with friends and family so you can appreciate all the fall offerings. Whether it’s the cooler weather or the pumpkin lattes that excite you, take it in and enjoy before the holiday chaos begins.
Here are 8 fall activities that you can do with your friends and family:
Watch seasonal sporting events – Whether it be soccer, hockey, or your local high school or collegiate football team, grab your scarves and blankets to cozy up together on the bleachers.
Attend local Fall festivals – These are typically very family-friendly packed with plenty of food, games, prizes, and fun to be had by all.
Go to a haunted house – Even if you have some scaredy cats, this can be a good bonding experience!
Visit a pumpkin patch – Let the kids select their favorite pumpkins, carve them (adults, we are talking to you) in front of the cozy fireplace and cook those yummy pumpkin seeds. You can even change it up and have the kids paint the pumpkins or decorate them with some sparkly glitter.
Collect colorful leaves – Rake leaves into piles and let the kids jump in them. They can also help out with the raking as that definitely counts as physical activity! Let them select some of their favorite leaves and use them later for a fall craft. (Try Pinterest for crafty ideas.)
Make festive treats – Stir up some hot apple cider while making a tasty (and yes it can be healthy, too!) pumpkin or apple dessert, such as these simple apple pie wraps. Make sure to let the kids help with the food prep.
Family movie night – Fix some healthy snacks (this OrganWise-ified popcorn is a good one!) and gather around the couch for a scary movie marathon.
Sign up for a race – Pick a fun local event and the entire family can participate. They typically have a fun run/walk for the kids in addition to the actual race. Get some family exercise while supporting a good cause!
To make sure you are able to take part in these fun activities, try making a list like the one above and hang it in a central location. You will be much more likely to actually do some of these things and the kids love being able to cross off an event or task once completed. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind that it’s nice to have a reminder to stray a bit and engage in some fun, but not typical activities. So, jump into fall and plan your list of festivities now before the next round of holidays sneaks up on us!
It is always important for kids to make sure they are taking good care of their teeth. However, we thought that with Halloween coming up at the end of the month, kids could use an extra reminder to focus on dental hygiene. The OrganWise Guys know that with Halloween also comes candy and sugar. We promote healthy eating, but advocate for moderation with the not-so-healthy items. When eating excess sugar, we also like to make sure that kids are taking care of their teeth properly with toothpaste, floss and some mouthwash.
We have included some tooth brushing fun for kids with the following coloring and activity sheets. Make sure to get these worksheets and share with your kids so they remember to take care of their teeth this Halloween!
Download the worksheets for tooth brushing fun for kids:
We continue our series promoting healthy behaviors to be implemented and tracked for an entire month (and hopefully beyond). In October we are focusing on dental health and working to get kids to brush their teeth at least twice a day, and floss them often. In addition to stressing the importance of keeping teeth properly brushed and flossed, it’s also necessary to teach kids about calcium and why it is essential for them to include calcium in their daily foods in order to build strong bones and teeth. To help get kids to brush their teeth regularly, make sure to download and print your free October Behavior Tracking Sheet and use in your home or other setting to encourage and track behavior change.
To promote good health, get kids to brush their teeth and encourage them to eat foods high in calcium. Watch as Calci M. Bone and The Kidney Brothers teach kids the “Calcium” cheer:
Here’s to eating calcium-rich foods and lots of teeth brushing!
Now that it’s officially fall, we are so excited for seasonal baking to begin! What better way to start your weekend than with some whole wheat apple pancakes? We love that this recipe (featuring whole grains, which are a September Foods of the Month) keeps you full throughout the day and avoids typical unhealthy ingredients, like sugar and butter, that pancakes usually have. Make these tasty pancakes to OrganWise your whole family!
Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 cups skim milk
2 tbsp. honey
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped or shredded apples
In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon) until blended. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (coconut oil, milk, honey, eggs and vanilla extract) until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until smooth. When combined, fold in the apples.
Heat a griddle to medium-high heat and coat with nonstick spray. Measure out 1/4 cup of batter and drop onto the griddle. Cook until the top starts to bubble, then flip. Cook for about 2 more minutes on the other side then transfer to a plate. Repeat until all the batter is used.
Taste testing is a great way to introduce new foods to kids who are otherwise apprehensive about trying them. Fruits and vegetables are the perfect food to use in taste tests because there is such a wide variety of them and so many that are unknown to most. It’s a great way to teach kids about the benefits of certain foods and why it is important to eat them. Taste tests can be done in a classroom setting, the cafeteria, or even at home.
Here are 5 tips for hosting a fun and successful taste test for kids:
Food selection – Determine whether you are doing one food or if you are doing a variety of a specific type of food. For example, will you be sampling an avocado or will you be sampling a variety of berries? Ideally you will pick foods that are in season for maximum freshness and it will save on the wallet as well.
Food preparation – Make sure all food is washed, cut and stored in containers ready to distribute. This will save on prep time onsite, and allow for more tasting time. If you can be creative in the presentation of a food, such as using a star or heart cookie cutter for melon, or putting berries on a skewer, this can be more fun and tempting for kids.
Go beyond taste – Involve the other senses for increased food awareness. Have the kids observe what the food looks like, what it smells like and what it feels like. This will enhance the tasting experience, while also putting their senses to good use!
Nutrition education – Use this time to teach kids about the nutritional value of the food and emphasize the healthy benefits it has on the body, including aiding in digestion and preventing sickness and disease.
Track the tasting – Use fun worksheets to go along with the taste test for increased participation and discussion about the foods. If doing at school, this is a great way to get a conversation about healthy eating started at home. You can download worksheets that we have created for a berry taste test, a stone fruit taste test and a tropical fruit taste test.
If you host a taste test, take some pics and share on our Facebook page!
Our children are the leaders, doctors, politicians, inventors, and entrepreneurs of the future! So, it is vital that we prepare them and instill in them with the proper values pertinent to successfully leading this country.
One way to help kids prepare for the future is to make sure they are working hard, setting goals and dreaming big. We need to let them know that they can do anything they set their mind to with a little bit of determination, hard work and perseverance. Hardy Heart wants to make sure you teach kids to dream big!
Make sure and download the coloring sheet so you too can teach kids to dream big:
We love that tomatoes are a September foods of the month. There are so many dishes to be made with this versatile fruit!
Here are some interesting tomato facts:
One of the most popular types of “vegetables” eaten by Americans, however, they are really members of the fruits family
High in vitamins C, A, and K and contain large amounts of an antioxidant called lycopene, which may help guard against certain cancers
Tomato paste and sauces, which contain highly-concentrated, cooked tomatoes, have greater amount of healthy lycopene than raw tomatoes
Varieties – There are thousands of types of tomatoes! The most popular are classified into three groups: cherry, plum, and slicing tomatoes. Grape and cherry ones are fun, sweet, and really delicious to eat alone or in a salad
Selection – Cold temperatures can damage tomatoes, so avoid buying ones that are stored in a cold area, and try not to put them in your refrigerator unless you cannot eat them soon. Pick plump tomatoes that have smooth skin with no bruises, cracks or blemishes.
Now that you are all excited about tomatoes, make sure and watch this video featuring Peri Stolic and Pepto, the stomach, sharing how to make their favorite tomato basil bruschetta recipe:
If you want to live a healthy life, you need to live a balanced one. It’s a simple idea and should be introduced to kids from an early age so they can create a habit of making healthy choices. We talk a lot about balancing the energy equation. Basically, it is important to balance the food that you eat (energy in), with your physical activity (energy out). If you stick to promoting this energy balance for kids when encouraging food choices and exercise, they will end up with healthier bodies!
Kids will certainly be interested to see what sparked Sir Rebrum to talk about energy balance today, so don’t miss the worksheet below!
So, make sure to promote energy balance for kids and download the coloring and activity sheets for today:
We love any food that combines fresh tomatoes and cheese – pizza, grilled cheese with tomato, pasta – these are just a few of our favorites! To get a little more creative, we made a Greek tomato dip with feta for calcium, extra-virgin olive oil for good fats, and added some green bell peppers for more vitamin A. The salty feta cheese and the sweet, fresh tomatoes (a September Foods of the Month) are a winning combination in our books. Serve this dip with whole grain pita chips or whole grain baguette slices (whole grains are the other September Foods of the Month!).
Greek Tomato Dip
1 cup vine ripe tomato, chopped
1/4 cup plain, reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup green bell peppers, chopped
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine the tomato, feta cheese and green bell peppers in a bowl.
Pour on the extra-virgin olive oil then mix thoroughly.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again.
Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend.
Today we continue our gardening series with Dr. Mary Ball, PhD, who after a 40-year career as a college biology professor, became a Tennessee Master Gardener and enjoys gardening with kids. Dr. Ball has helped secure funding for gardening, nutrition education, and hundreds of dollars worth of donated seeds to schools and afterschool programs in rural East Tennessee.
Recently, when we harvested eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes in our Boys and Girls Club Garden on our Club Kids thought the little striped fruit was a watermelon. They were disappointed to learn it’s a “Poquito Zucchini Squash” and the conversation turned to “What can we still plant and harvest this year? Pumpkins? Watermelons?”
Pumpkin plants aren’t for sale right now and a seed catalog says pumpkins take about 100 days to mature, so to have some in time for Halloween, we would need to have planted them in June! Watermelons mature faster, in about 80 days, but these formerly-African plants can’t tolerate any cold, so it’s too late for them, too.
Many folks have the idea that, after we have our first freeze (in October here in East Tennessee), it’s time to pull out all the dead garden plants, have bare beds until next Spring, and wait for our harvests to begin again in the summer. But only some veggies, like tomatoes, will be killed by the frost and have to be replanted in the spring for next summer.
Here are three helpful September gardening tips:
When veggie plants die, don’t remove them and leave the soil bare.
Bare soil can blow away or be washed away! Instead, plant something else (to harvest for eating, or as a cover crop*), or spread a decayable mulch, like straw, over the soil.
Next year, include veggies that will continue to grow outside beyond the first frost.
Try the beautiful and tasty “Swiss Chard,” and plant veggies in containers you can move indoors or into a “backyard greenhouse” to extend* the growing season beyond the first frost.
Use “days to maturity” info on the veggies to see recommendations in your area.
For example, radishes mature so quickly that we can still start those now, and we can plant them in among the things that are already in our garden. Here’s a fun idea: Each Spring, first graders in Charlottesville, Virginia, compete to grow peas and have the First Peas to the Table. Now would be a good time to plan a similar contest among classes at schools in your community!
One last tidbit – We learned to cut up our tomatoes using plastic knives, holding the tomato still with a “Corncob Holder.” We grated cheese and created a fresh pasta dish. Yum!
*Look for upcoming posts on cover crops and DIY Season extenders.