Eat Right: Back to School Meals and Lunchbox Finds!

Back-to-school for New Jammies kids means new teachers, new school clothes, new friends and new experiences. It also means brainstorming new healthy lunch ideas for culinary variety to make sure the kids are eating right.    

This year year we discovered some mamas on a mission to test and find the best in eco-friendly lunch box options!  Yes, I still miss my metal Strawberry Shortcake lunch box from yesteryear, but now there’s a whole world of options to choose from that making packing and storage a cinch, while living up to our eco-expectations!

Still one of my favorites, the Bento Boxes, which are BPA- and phthalate-free and 100% recyclable, are extremely popular, especially this colorful divided lunch box, as they can help with portioning and organizing. We love Bentgo Kids, an innovative bento-style lunch box designed exclusively for active kids on the go, because you can put liquid dips in it and they won’t leak into other compartments with special sealed lid.

“What makes Bentgo Kids so much fun is the endless combinations of nutritious foods you can pack in the five convenient compartments,” says the company. “The largest compartment is the perfect size for a half sandwich or salad. Three mid-size compartments are great for fruit, veggies and other snack favorites. The smallest compartment is sized just right for dipping sauces. Bentgo Kids’ removable compartment tray allows you to mix and match the three fun colors to suit your child’s unique preference.”

Bentgo is also a purchase with a purpose, as the company is a proud supporter of Feed the Children. Try this Bentgo Kids All-in-One Lunch Box.

“Your purchase makes a difference in the lives of hungry children in America and around the world,” says Bentgo Kids.

Retro Mama Goes Green also has some fun non-toxic suggestions this year ranging from lunch bags to boxes!   Lisa says “Many lunch boxes can contain harmful things like PVC, lead, BPA, and phthalates. And disposable paper bags cost a lot of money over time and are wasteful. Thankfully there are some great waste-free, safe options out there.”

Keep it cool with our favorite eco-friendly and sweat free ice packs from

U- Konserve

Not only do we love their ice-packs, but this company is on a mission to save the planets from plastic straws and cups.   I must confess, recently my children swayed me to purchase some fun bendy plastic straws, but now seeing U-Konserve’s options and being reminded of the large impact of small choices, I’m loving this find.

For sustainable lunch packaging, we also love Two + Two re-usable and washable sandwich wraps and snack bags. Don’t waste ziplock bags and throw away plastic! These are made nearby in New Jammies home state of Colorado, and are food-safe and eco-friendly.    The sandwich wraps are easy to clean, come in fun prints, and create a great placemat for eating.   The snack bags come in multiple sizes to suit any hunger!

“This young company is run by two creative moms with a passion for style, sewing, Mother Earth, and doing what’s best (and cutest) for their little ones,” says Two+Two. “Products keep food fresh and uncontaminated with a proprietary lining that is free of lead, BPA, PVC and phthalates. The various sizes of eco-friendly reusable bags accommodate any and all packing organizing and traveling needs.”

Fill the snack bags and lunch boxes mentioned above with fresh-cut veggies, including carrot and celery sticks, cauliflower and broccoli pieces, and cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices from the garden, trail mix and granola, as healthy options.   I personally use them anytime I am on the go with kids as those little tummies have a big appetite all the time!

Now we’ve got all our amazing gear options, how do we making packing lunch fun, healthy, and easy on parents.     We’re digging this healthy food prep web-site Gimme Delicious  Showcasing colorful images of healthy, easy cooking, make ahead dishes that look amazing to eat at home or on the go.   Kids will be loving the rainbow of flavors here.   In addition to lunch, some of the pre-prep freezer ideas will make healthy, weeknight dinners on busy school nights ready to go!

This balanced dish is great for dinner or lunch….

Pesto Chicken Veggie Sheet Pan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another mama that likes to keep lunch simple, veggie style is the author of  Veggies Don’t Bite! blog.    These quick packing lunches will keep kids coming back for more and you can put these together with ease even if you haven’t had your morning latte yet.   She also has other lunch box suggestions as well as veggie loving recipes for the whole family.

 

We hope your school year is off to a healthy start!   Eat right, play right, sleep tight!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Heart-healthy Family Dinners

February is American Heart Month, and New Jammies joins the American Heart Association in reminding families this is an ideal time to focus on their hearts and encourage them to get their loved ones, friends and communities involved.

“The biggest part of living healthy comes down to simply making healthy choices,” says the AHA. “While you can’t change things like age and family history, the good news is that even modest changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your heart health and lower your risk by as much as 80 percent.”

In its Heart-healthy Recipes section of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women website, the AHA provides meal planning ideas that can save your heart by improving your diet.

“There’s a common misconception that anything described as healthy is lacking in flavor and satisfaction. To add insult to injury, there’s also an automatic assumption that healthy foods are unaffordable,” the American Heart Association says.

“The truth is, there are plenty of creative ways to make a tasty, heart-healthy dish. And you don’t have to be a master chef to whip one up, and do it well … Once you start eating this way, you may wonder why you didn’t start sooner. And before you know it, you’ll be coming up with your own inspired creations.”

Try these heart-healthy dishes from the American Heart Association and encourage your New Jammies kids and to eat right today:

Healthy greens and beans add a flavorful punch to this easy soup recipe for Tuscan Bean Soup.

Ingredients

6 Servings (Serving size 1 cup)
1 tsp. olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
1/2 small red onion (chopped)
1 medium celery (chopped)
1 medium garlic clove (minced)
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
15.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added Great Northern beans (rinsed, drained)
14.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added, diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 tsp. dried oregano (crumbled)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (crumbled)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups spinach
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the onion, celery, and garlic for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the onion and celery are soft.

2. Stir in the broth, beans, tomatoes with liquid, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes so the flavors blend.

3. Stir in the spinach. Simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

4. Just before serving, sprinkle the soup with the Parmesan.

This protein-packed vegetarian Edamame Salad with Orange-Balsamic Dressing can be a main course or a side dish.

Ingredients

Serving size 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups shelled edamame (green soybeans)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, lowest sodium available
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar PLUS
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, divided use
1 tsp. olive oil, extra virgin preferred
1/4 tsp. pepper
15.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added navy beans, rinsed, drained
1/4 tsp. salt
2 oz. mixed salad greens, torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
1/4 medium cucumber, sliced crosswise
1 medium Italian plum (Roma) tomato, diced
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup sliced radishes

Directions

1. Prepare the edamame using the package directions, omitting the salt. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, mustard, 2 tablespoons vinegar, oil, and pepper. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the edamame, navy beans, salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar. Let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature or cover and refrigerate until needed, up to five days.

3. At serving time, put the salad greens on plates. Top, in order, with the cucumber, tomato, carrot, radishes, and bean mixture. Pour the dressing over all.

Benefit from heart-healthy omega-3 fats with this vegetable and seafood Spinach-Stuffed Baked Salmon dish.

Ingredients
4 Servings (Serving size 3 ounces fish and 1/2 cup vegetables)

1 tsp. olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
2 oz. spinach
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped, roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained if bottled
1/4 cup fresh basil (coarsely chopped)
2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
Cooking spray
4 salmon fillets (about 4 ounces each), rinsed, patted dry
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (lowest sodium available)
2 Tbsp. plain dry bread crumbs, lowest sodium available
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (crumbled)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper

Directions

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the spinach and lemon zest for 2 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted, stirring constantly. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the roasted peppers, basil, and walnuts. Let cool for 5 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray.

3. Cut a lengthwise slit in the side of each fillet to make a pocket for the stuffing. Be careful to not cut through to the other side. With a spoon or your fingers, carefully stuff a scant 1/2 cup spinach mixture into each fillet. Transfer to the baking sheet. With a pastry brush or spoon, spread the mustard over the fish.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle over the fish. Lightly spray the top with cooking spray.

5. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the fish is the desired doneness and the filling is heated through.

This Blackberry Cobbler dessert recipe features nutrient-dense blackberries and is great for family meals, especially as the weather warms. Nutrient-dense foods are high in nutrients but relatively low in calories, and contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats.

Cooking Tip: On the blackberries, this sweet-tart fruit is nutrient dense. Look for plump berries with a dark, rich color.

Ingredients
8 Servings

Cooking spray
4 cups blackberries
1/4 cup sugar substitute and 1/2 cup sugar substitute, divided use
1/4 cup water
Juice from 1 medium lime
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/16 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1/4 cup canola or corn oil
1/4 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, gently stir together the berries, 1/4 cup sugar substitute, the water, lime juice, and ginger. Let the berry mixture stand for at least 15 minutes so the juices can accumulate.

3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar substitute.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, yogurt, and vanilla.

5. Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture, stirring just until no flour is visible. Don’t overmix.

6. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Using a spatula, spread the batter in the pan. (The batter doesn’t have to touch the edge of the pan; it will spread while baking.) Top with the berry mixture.

7. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For information on women and heart disease, visit Go Red for Women.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Healthy Eating in 2018

Every January, millions of Americans make resolutions to improve their health and well being in the new year, including through diet and exercise. The intention is there, but only about 8 percent of people who make resolutions keep them. At New Jammies, we’re here to improve those odds with these tips for healthy eating habits for the whole family in the new year.

The CDC Office of Women’s Health offers Six Tips for 2018, including No. 3, make healthy food choices.

”A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products,” the CDC says. “It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.”

One way the CDC offers advice on Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight is by trying a new twist on an old favorite.

“If your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or breaded chicken, try healthier variations using baking or grilling,” the CDC suggests. “Maybe even try a recipe that uses dry beans in place of higher-fat meats. Ask around or search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories ― you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish.”

This American Heart Association recipe for Kid-Friendly Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs with Brown Rice, from its Simple Cooking with Heart program, “helps you travel to the islands with this recipe. Kids can help make them and because they’ll be in the kitchen where all the action is, they’re probably going to be excited to eat them, too.”

Ingredients

4 Servings

For the Marinade:

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (at least 36 pieces), all visible fat discarded, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
20 oz. canned, unsweetened juice from pineapple chunks can
2 clove fresh garlic (minced)
OR
1 tsp. jarred, minced garlic

For the Chicken Kebabs:

Non-stick cooking spray
36 pineapple chunks (packed in their own juice)
2 fresh, chopped bell peppers (chopped into 36 pieces)
1 pint grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
12-15 wooden skewers
2 cup brown rice (cooked to package instructions)
OR
2 8.8- oz. packaged, cooked brown rice

Directions

For the Marinade:
1. In a plastic bag, add chicken chunks.
2. Have kids add soy sauce, 1 cup pineapple juice, and garlic into the plastic bag. Seal and let chicken marinate in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

For the Chicken Kebabs:

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Take chicken out of marinade and place in a bowl.
2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Have kids wash bell peppers and tomatoes before chopping peppers. For kid-friendly assembly, place the pineapple, chopped peppers, and tomatoes in 3 separate bowls.
3. Let kids add 1 tomato to the bottom of 1 skewer. Top with pineapple, chicken and bell pepper 3 times, letting kids add everything but the raw chicken. Let kids add 1 more tomato to top. Repeat with the rest of skewers.
4. After 12 skewers are made (and all the chicken has been used), have kids make their own skewers with any remaining pieces. Cook kabobs in oven until chicken is cooked, about 15 minutes. Serve with rice.

Quick Tips

Cooking Tip: Pineapples have an enzyme called bromelain that helps to make meat tender, making pineapple juice an excellent quick marinade.
Keep it Healthy: Skewering pieces of meat, vegetables, and fruit for dinner makes it fun for kids to eat, along with a having a meal with a quick cooking time.
Tip: You can also cook these on the grill but first, you would need to soak the wooden skewers in cold water to prevent them from catching on fire.
Tip: Grape tomatoes are smaller than cherry tomatoes, so more will fit in a pint container. If using grape tomatoes, there will be enough tomatoes to add 4 grape tomatoes per skewer. If using cherry tomatoes, just stick with 2 per skewer.

In helping people stay on course for their wellness resolutions, the American Heart Association suggests these tips on How to Eat Healthy without “Dieting”:

• Choose mindfully, even with healthier foods. Ingredients and nutrient content can vary a lot.
• Read labels. Compare nutrition information on package labels and select products with the lowest amounts of sodium, added sugars, saturated fat and trans fat, and no partially hydrogenated oils.
• Watch your calories. To maintain a healthy weight, eat only as many calories as you use up through physical activity. If you want to lose weight, take in fewer calories or burn more calories.
• Eat reasonable portions. Often this is less than you are served, especially when eating out.
• Don’t dismiss entire food groups. Eat a wide variety of foods to get all the nutrients your body needs.
• Cook and eat at home. You’ll have more control over ingredients and preparation methods.

Another kid-friendly, healthy recipe to help you and your family eat well throughout the new year is courtesy the We Can! program, a collaboration between the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute.

Find more easy, healthy Fun Family Recipes from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

Lentil Soup

Ingredients

11 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, diced
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups dry lentils
1 can (14 ½ ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
6 ½ cups water

Directions

1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onions; cook and stir until the onion is tender.
2. Stir in garlic, oregano, basil, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.
3. Stir in lentils and tomatoes, then add the vegetable broth and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour or until lentils are tender.
4. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and reheat on the stove or in the microwave. The soup will taste better the next day!

This recipe for a Superfood Smoothie from the American Diabetes Association is great for kids and adults, for breakfast, a snack or dessert on the go.

“Blueberries, spinach, and almond milk make this a Superfood Smoothie and a great way to start your day,” says the ADA. “Superfoods provide key nutrients that are lacking in the typical western diet.”

Ingredients

2 Servings

1 cup original almond milk
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 cups baby spinach
1 banana

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth and thick.

MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Confirm all ingredients are gluten-free and this recipe can be made gluten-free.

Cheers to a happy and healthy new year!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

Back-to-school for New Jammies kids means new teachers, new school clothes, new friends and new experiences. It also means brainstorming new healthy lunch ideas for culinary variety to make sure the kids are eating right.

For an easy rotation of sandwiches with snacks, ham or turkey with cheese are easy to assemble the night before school. Peanut, almond or sunflower butter (great for kids with nut allergies) with homemade low-sugar jelly sandwiches are perfect for variety and specific dietary requirements.

Organic pastas such as penne noodles, ravioli and macaroni and cheese, including brands such as Annie’s, can also be made ahead of time to pack a convenient and nutritious lunch. Annie’s also makes organic gummies and fruit snacks, cookies, popcorn and granola bars to include as healthy lunch box snack options.

Bento Boxes, which are BPA- and phthalate-free and 100% recyclable, are extremely popular, especially this colorful divided lunch box, as they can help with portioning and organizing. We love Bentgo Kids, an innovative bento-style lunch box designed exclusively for active kids on the go, because you can put liquid dips in it and they won’t leak into other compartments with special sealed lid.

“What makes Bentgo Kids so much fun is the endless combinations of nutritious foods you can pack in the five convenient compartments,” says the company. “The largest compartment is the perfect size for a half sandwich or salad. Three mid-size compartments are great for fruit, veggies and other snack favorites. The smallest compartment is sized just right for dipping sauces. Bentgo Kids’ removable compartment tray allows you to mix and match the three fun colors to suit your child’s unique preference.”

Bentgo is also a purchase with a purpose, as the company is a proud supporter of Feed the Children. Try this Bentgo Kids All-in-One Lunch Box.

“Your purchase makes a difference in the lives of hungry children in America and around the world,” says Bentgo Kids.

For sustainable lunch packaging, we also love Two + Two re-usable and washable sandwich wraps and snack bags. Don’t waste ziplock bags and throw away plastic! These are made in New Jammies home state of Colorado in Aspen, and are food-safe and eco-friendly.

“This young company is run by two creative moms with a passion for style, sewing, Mother Earth, and doing what’s best (and cutest) for their little ones,” says Two+Two. “Products keep food fresh and uncontaminated with a proprietary lining that is free of lead, BPA, PVC and phthalates. The various sizes of eco-friendly reusable bags accommodate any and all packing organizing and traveling needs.”

Fill the snack bags and lunch boxes mentioned above with fresh-cut veggies, including carrot and celery sticks, cauliflower and broccoli pieces, and cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices from the garden, as healthy options. Dips such as hummus and homemade ranch with Greek yogurt can make veggie eating even more enticing for kids at lunchtime.

Cheese sticks in different varieties, including string cheese and cheddar, can keep things interesting from day-to-day. Fresh fruit that travels well, especially oranges and tangerines, red or green apples and ripe bananas, plus sugar-free applesauce and fruit cups are filling and great for adding important Vitamin C. Frozen yogurt tubes that thaw by lunch are good to include for a fast dose of Vitamin D.

For foodie kids who like to mix it up and try different dishes, black beans and rice sprinkled with Monterey Jack cheese provide a tasty protein-filled option. Add salsa for fun and color. Roasted veggie quesadillas made with whole-wheat tortillas are also easy to make ahead and transport in the lunch box.

This recipe for Chic’ Penne from KidsHealth.com can be made ahead on the weekend and eaten cold throughout the week, or frozen for future lunches, after-school snacks and quick dinners after sports practice or club meetings:

Prep time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:

1 box whole-wheat penne pasta (14 ounces)

3 cups of raw broccoli florettes

¾ cup of precooked chicken strips (4 ounces)

½ cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (2 ounces)

½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 ounces)

3 tablespoons skim milk (1.5 oz)

2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Cook pasta according to directions until crisp-tender. Drain pasta.

3. Place drained pasta in a 13×9 baking dish.

4. Place broccoli in a stockpot of boiling water or a steamer for about 5 minutes.

5. Rinse with cool water.

6. Add the drained broccoli and the precooked chicken strips to the pasta.

7. Sprinkle shredded cheeses over pasta mixture.

8. In a mixing bowl, combine milk, chicken broth, salt, and pepper.

9. Pour milk mixture evenly over the pasta mixture and mix in with a spoon.

10. Cover baking dish with foil.

11. Bake 30 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and cheese is melted.

EatingWell.com offers some fun Bento lunchbox ideas, including this one for a Deconstructed Cobb Salad Lunch for Kids.

Ingredients:

½ ounce slice low- or reduced-sodium deli turkey

½ ounce slice low- or reduced-sodium deli ham

¼ cup chopped romaine lettuce

2 tablespoons chopped tomato

2 tablespoons chopped cucumber

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

½ avocado, cubed

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 hard-boiled egg, thinly sliced crosswise

1 slice crisply cooked bacon

Directions:

1. Stack turkey and ham slices on top of each other.

2. Tightly roll up and slice crosswise into 4 to 6 rounds.

3. Place in a small container.

4. Toss lettuce, tomato and cucumber in a medium container.

5. Place oil and vinegar in a dip-size container and nestle into the salad.

6. Toss avocado with lime juice and place in a medium container along with egg.

7. Place bacon in a small container.

For more recipe and menu ideas, visit the KidsHealth.com Recipes page. Bon appetite!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Stay Cool with Healthy Summer Treats

When the summer heat is on, New Jammies kids need to stay hydrated and cool. Moms and dads agree that as summer heats up, it helps if those cool treats are light and healthy, too.

Water is the first priority for hydrating kids. According to an article in Parenting magazine on keeping kids hydrated, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children drink six glasses of water on an average day.

“During activity, however, your child can lose up to a half-liter of fluid per hour,” says the article. “The AAP suggests about 5 ounces (or two kid-size gulps) of water or a sports drink every 20 minutes for an 88-pound child.”

Popsicle Dreams Forever
One way kids love to stay hydrated and cool in the summer is with popsicles. Many brands on the market that most of us would still recognize from our childhoods are often produced using sugary flavored water, colorful dyes, and preservatives.

Today, we’re lucky in that we can find low-sugar organic juices and hydrating ingredients, such as coconut water and fresh fruit-infused water, to help us get creative with ingredients while controlling what our kids consume. There are so many options for making your own ice pops using BPA-free molds and easy, healthy recipes. Why not treat the kids and save money with a healthier  homemade option? Yes, please!

The Coconut Mama food blogger, an Oregon mom named Tiffany, offers this recipe for Coconut Water Ice Pops that yields 6. She’s a self-described “true believer in the health benefits of coconut,” using coconut products in most cooking.

“These unconventional ice pops are healthy, super easy to make and can be very versatile,” reads the recipe description. “Coconut water is extremely healthy and restores electrolytes. You can use any mix of frozen or fresh fruit to make them. We used mango, pineapple and blueberry on this batch.”

Ingredients

Fresh or frozen fruit
Coconut water

Instructions

1. Fill popsicle molds (or cups if using) 3/4 way full of fruit of choice.
2. Pour coconut water into molds and fill the rest of the way.
3. Place molds in freezer. Allow popsicles to freeze completely before serving, about 5-8 hours.
4. Once your popsicles are ready to serve, run the bottom of the popsicle molds under warm water to help release them from the molds.

_____________________

Freezing ice pops this summer is made easy with the Lekue 4 Unit Stackable Ice Lollipop Mold, which can be ordered online on Amazon. According to the product description, making homemade popsicles in these stackable molds helps save room in the freezer, and they have an easy-to-fill design that comes with a lid to protect from unwanted flavors and smells in the freezer.

Included in the price are easy recipes that feature lactose and gluten-free options. “You can have healthier and more natural ice pops with no preservatives or dyes,” says Lekue. “Each mold comes with one stick and is dishwasher-friendly and BPA-free.”

Juice Up

We love this recipe for All-natural, Sugar-free Soda from The View from Great Island blogger Sue Moran, not only because it’s “refreshing, fun, and fizzy,” according to the foodie site Super Healthy Kids. But it also skips the artificial flavors, colors, high-fructose corn syrup, and chemicals found in many sodas, says superhealthykids.com.  “All you need is fresh fruit, and carbonated water.”

Ingredients

1 pound fresh ripe strawberries
Carbonated water

Instructions

1. Wash and trim the strawberries.

2. Place them in a food processor and pulse until they are rough chopped, then scrape down the sides of the machine. Purée until completely smooth. Let the machine run for a minute or longer to insure a nice smooth purée.

3. Push the mixture through a mesh strainer, using the back of a large spoon to make sure as much of it gets through as possible. Most all of it should go through, leaving just the small seeds behind. You should have approximately a cup and a half of purée.

4. To make soda, use 2 tablespoons of the purée for each 8 ounces of carbonated water. Mix and then serve immediately. You can adjust the amount of purée for a lighter or stronger flavor.

5. The fruit purée will keep in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for a week.

6. If you like you can add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to perk up the flavor of any fruit soda, and conversely, if you find your soda is too tart, add a touch of honey.

Other fresh fruit-flavor ideas Moran suggests for this super-easy recipe include:

• Grape (choose the dark or red varieties for best flavor)
• Blueberry (be sure to strain this one)
• Guava
• Papaya
• Mango
• Peach
• Pineapple
• Kiwi
• Orange (try blood orange, if you can find them)
• Red or pink grapefruit

Enjoy these refreshing ideas all summer long, and year, if you decide to freeze the purée. Or add spring water to the mix, instead of carbonated, and freeze for a delicious ice pop.

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New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Dietary Guidelines to Curb Childhood Obesity

At New Jammies, the health of our children is a top priority. We developed our 100% certified organic cotton pajamas not just as products of the highest standard, but to also adhere to safety standards and be accountable for the health and well being of our children and their environments.

Childhood obesity is one common health issue our society faces, with more than 3 million U.S. cases being reported per year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

The Mayo Clinic warns that childhood obesity can lead to diabetes in kids and young adults as well as high blood pressure and cholesterol, leading to further health complications. The bad news is there may be no symptoms other than weight that’s above normal to warn parents of a child’s obesity level.

The good news is, childhood obesity is treatable.

“Improving the entire family’s diet and exercise habits is one of the best ways to achieve a healthy weight in the child,” the Mayo Clinic says.

Dr. Joanna Dolgoff, MD, child obesity specialist for “The Biggest Loser” and author of “Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right,” says improving a child’s diet does not have to be an arduous task. “Little changes add up to big nutritional gains,” she says.

In her “10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Child’s Diet” article on doctoroz.com, Dr. Dolgoff provides quick, easy steps to makeover your child’s diet and prevent weight gain.

To start, Dr. Dolgoff suggests not allowing junk food in the house.

“If it isn’t in the house, your kids can’t eat it. Or at least they will have a more difficult time getting their hands on it,” she says. “Your first line of defense starts at the grocery store. Leave your kids at home when you are grocery shopping, if possible.

Make a list before you leave your house and stick to it. Don’t get distracted by the tempting treats in the market. Buy healthy snacks to keep at home and save the junk for when you are out and can’t avoid it.”

Dr. Dolgoff also says don’t let your kids drink their calories with sugary beverages, especially found in soda and juices. Replace sugary drinks with water or flavored seltzers. Also, pay attention to portion size and overeating — everything in moderation — and don’t always stick to the “clean plate club.”

“The best thing you can teach your children is to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Do not push your kids to eat more than they need, even if you think they have not eaten enough,” Dr. Dolgoff says.

Natural foods, in their purest forms, such as fruits, vegetables, meats and grains should make up the bulk of your child’s diet, according to the doctor. Consider low-fat or fat-free cheese, yogurt and milk to help cut down on regular dairy products containing saturated fat, known to cause heart disease. Also, avoid fried foods and grill or bake when possible.

“Save the fast foods and processed foods for occasional treats. My rule of thumb: If you can’t easily pronounce all the ingredients on the food label, skip it!”

New Jammies Whale PJ BeachMeal planning helps to manage calories and sugar intake. Dr. Dolgoff notes that cooking over the weekend helps with the hustle and bustle of eating healthy on school nights. Keeping kids moving with daily activities that increase movement is also helpful in improving your kid’s health.

“Encourage family walks and bike rides. Grab a ball and play some basketball,” Dr. Dolgoff says. “When going to a store, pick the worst parking spot so you have to walk further to get to your destination. Ban elevators; take the stairs instead.”

In short, eat right, play right, sleep tight.

To learn more about tips for preventing childhood obesity for parents and caregivers, read this American Heart Association Healthy Kids article.

 

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