10 Foods You Should Keep In Your Freezer At All Times

10 Foods You Should Keep In Your Freezer At All Times

It’s not easy to get dinner on the table every night but fast food, restaurant fare and take-out are usually high in calories, sodium and saturated fat and low in nutrition—definitely not a healthy choice for you or your kids.

When you have a few healthy essentials stocked in your freezer however, you’ll stress less, save money and eat healthier.

Here are 10 foods you should keep in your freezer at all times.

1. Bananas

My daughter eats a banana for breakfast every morning except that is, when brown spots start to appear and they become a bit mushy. Instead of tossing them however, I peel the them and pop them in the freezer.

Frozen bananas are great for smoothies, banana bread, in place of oil in baked goods or as a healthy, non-dairy ice cream.

2. Vegetables

If you often find yourself without any vegetables but you can’t make it to the grocery store, always keep frozen vegetables on hand.

Frozen vegetables are picked at their peak freshness and flash frozen so they may be healthier than fresh varieties. In fact, a June 2017 study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found in some cases frozen produce is more nutritious than fresh that’s been stored in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Frozen vegetables can also save you time washing and chopping and they can be steamed in 10 minutes.

3. Herbs

I rarely purchase herbs because most recipes call for only a few sprigs and the rest ends up getting tossed.

A better way is to wash and store leftover herbs in the freezer and then use them as needed.

4. Bread

When bread is on sale, stock up and store it in the freezer to prevent it from getting moldy and stale.

When life is hectic and weeknights get busy, there’s nothing wrong with grilled cheese or eggs and toast for dinner.

5. Veggie Scraps

An average family of four in the U.S. wastes about 25 percent of the food they buy.

Suffice to say some of that is the food picky eaters refuse to eat but some of it probably is wilted vegetables and veggie scraps.

Instead of tossing sad vegetables, store carrot peels and ends, celery ends and leaves, and mushroom stems in the freezer until you have enough to boil down into a vegetable broth you can use for soups and stews.

6. Beans and legumes

On Sunday, I make a large batch of lentil stew and freeze a portion to be used for lunches or dinner. Beans and legumes are high in fiber, protein, B-vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc.

Reheat beans and legumes in the microwave or on the stove. Add beans to stews, soups or tacos.

7. Berries

At $3.99 on average for a pint, berries can get expensive. Yet strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are high in antioxidants and fiber and some of the healthiest types of fruit you can feed your kids.

When you spot berries on sale, stock up and freeze them or purchase frozen berries that you can use in smoothies, baked goods and fruit popsicles. Your kids might also enjoy eating frozen berries straight out of the freezer as a snack.

8. Peas

Peas are high in fiber, protein, potassium, vitamins A, B6, and C as well as iron and magnesium.

Peas make a great first food for babies and are versatile in any dish. Puree them into a soup, add them to rice dishes and stews or serve them as an appetizer when your kids beg, is dinner almost ready?

9. Nuts

Nuts are an excellent source of protein, fat and heart-healthy fats and make for easy, convenient snacks for kids.

Since nuts can go rancid however, if you buy them in bulk, which is usually cheaper, you can freeze them so they’ll stay fresh.

10. Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, sardines and halibut are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids so having them on hand will ensure you’ll always have a healthy meal.

A bag of shrimp is also an easy and healthy go-to meal, it defrosts quickly and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Pair fish with vegetables and rice, add to a stir-fry and serve leftovers for lunch.

What foods do you keep in your freezer? Let me know in the comments.

10 Ways To Stretch Your Family’s Food Budget  Feeding your family healthy, fresh foods doesn't have to break the bank.

10 Ways To Stretch Your Family’s Food Budget

Feeding your family healthy, fresh foods doesn't have to break the bank.

Feeding your family a healthy diet can be more expensive than a diet made up of fast food and take out but it also doesn’t have to break the bank.

According to a January 2018 report by the United States Department of Agriculture, feeding a family of 4 a healthy diet can cost between $129 and $296 a week yet it may not be that much more expensive. In fact, according to a December 2013 meta-analysis published in the journal BMJ, the healthiest types of diets like those rich in fruits and vegetables, fish and nuts cost only $1.50 more per day than unhealthy diets made up of processed foods, meats and refined grains.

Whether your family’s food budget is tight or you have a bit to spare, here are 10 ways to make the most of it.

1. Pay Attention To Portions

In the U.S., our portion sizes are double—sometimes triple—the size of normal, healthy portions. Not only can overeating lead to weight gain and serious health conditions for you and your kids, it can also cause you to spend more money on food.

When you dish out food, pay attention to portion sizes. For example, a 3-ounce piece of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. Instead of making meat the main portion, fill up half your plate with vegetables and think about meat as a side dish.

2. Eat Less Meat

When it comes to meat, eating it everyday can get expensive especially if you purchase organic and grass-fed varieties.

Make Meatless Monday a habit every week or swap beans, legumes and vegetarian dishes for meat a few times a week to cut down on your food bill.

3. Carve Out Time For Prep

Pre-chopped and spiralized vegetables, pre-made salads, cut up fruit and canned beans make home cooked meals faster and easier but they’re also more expensive.

If you’re looking to stretch your family’s food budget, spend some time on the weekends or at night to pre-chop ingredients, assemble salads and soak and cook beans.

4. Buy Store Brands

When you purchase healthy food staples like rice, quinoa, vegetable stock and canned salmon, compare brands. Generic and store brands will usually be more affordable than national brands.

5. Shop Big Box Stores

Large retailers like Target often sell healthy food at significantly lower prices than grocery stores. I often pick up yogurt, bread, canned beans, salmon and sardines, chia seeds, nuts and almond milk.

6. Make a List and Plan Ahead

If you go grocery shopping without a list, you’re more likely to buy items you don’t need and spend more.

Before heading to the grocery store, look through your refrigerator, freezer and pantry and make a list to ensure you buy what you need. Meal planning a week’s worth of dinners can also help you make the most of your food budget.

7. Shop In Season and On Sale

When you purchase fruits and vegetables that are in-season, the food will be fresher and more affordable. Also, scan the grocery store circular for sales and stock up and freeze what you don’t plan to eat that week.

8. Minimize Food Waste

Food waste is a huge concern in the U.S. with Americans throwing away half of all produce each year.

To cut down on food waste, re-purpose leftovers into school lunches or freeze them for another night. If you have small amounts of odd vegetables but not enough for an entire meal, mix them into a stir-fry or blend them into soup. Small amounts of leftover fruit can be thrown into a smoothie or frozen as snacks for your kids.

9. Plant a Garden

 

If you have space, consider planting a garden which is an easy and enjoyable way to stretch your family’s food budget while also teaching kids where their food comes from. If space is limited, use a few planters for herbs.

10. Upgrade Dessert

Instead of offering packaged pudding, cookies or ice cream for dessert, make dessert healthy and more affordable. Make batches of chia see pudding, oatmeal energy bites or dried fruit alone or dipped in chocolate.

10 Foods That Fight Pregnancy Heartburn

10 Foods That Fight Pregnancy Heartburn

Pregnancy heartburn or acid reflux: whatever you call it, that uncomfortable, burning sensation and constant need to burp is one pregnancy symptom all moms-to-be could do without.

Towards the end of both of my pregnancies, I had persistent heartburn at night the minute my head hit the pillow. I’d try to “burp” myself like a baby, hitting my back and my chest to try to relieve some of the pressure and prop my head up with pillows so I could get a few hours of shut-eye. Although it helped a bit, I was happy after I gave birth to no longer deal with it.

Approximately 30 to 50 percent of women will complain about pregnancy heartburn.

The reason is primarily pregnancy hormones—progesterone and relaxin—which cause the lower esophageal sphincter, or the muscles around the esophagus to relax and push food acids back up.

Eating alone can also cause acid reflux, so avoiding food two hours before bedtime is a good idea.

Triggers can vary between women but spicy foods, foods high in fat, and those that contain caffeine (chocolate included) or citrus usually cause heartburn.

A good rule of thumb: stick to whole foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables and eat meals you make at home so you know exactly what you’re eating. Here, 10 healthy foods that fight pregnancy heartburn.

1. Ginger

Ginger does double duty for both morning sickness and acid reflux. It’s both anti-inflammatory and well known to help with GI discomfort.

Add ginger to a homemade green juice or green smoothie, grate it into a stir-fry or sip on a soothing cup of warm ginger tea.

2. Bananas

A great source of potassium, bananas are alkaline so they can fight acid reflux. Add a few slices to your breakfast or enjoy as a snack when hunger strikes.

3. Fennel

Fennel, or “Finacchio,” is an herb thought to cleanse the palette after a large meal—at least in many Italian-American families like mine. Whether it’s an old wives’ tale or not, fennel is used to help relieve digestive issues including heartburn, gas and bloating. If you like fennel’s mildly licorice taste and crunchy texture, chew on some or chop it up and add it your meals.

4. Green leafy vegetables

During the second and third trimesters, when morning sickness usually subsides and you have more of an appetite, fill up on green leafy vegetables which are packed with nutrition, filling fiber and are alkaline, so they won’t cause acid reflux.

Broccoli, kale, spinach, celery and cauliflower are all great choices.

5. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein and calcium and can prevent pregnancy heartburn. Since most brands of yogurt are high in sugar, choose plain Greek yogurt and add low glycemic fruit like blueberries or raspberries which also have filling fiber.

6. Melon

If you’re pregnant during the summer or live in a warm climate, you’re probably craving fresh, sweet fruit that has a high water content like watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew, which are all refreshing and also keep acid reflux at bay.

7. Parsley

Well-known as an herb to aid digestion and relieve stomach upset, parsley also works well in green juices and in most dishes.

8. Whole Grains

Sources of complex carbohydrates like oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa are high in fiber so they’ll help you feel satiated and ward off acid reflux.

9. Almond milk

Dairy can cause stomach upset in some people but almond milk is alkaline and a good source of calcium.

Enjoy a glass alone or use it to make a breakfast smoothie.

10. Lean meats

Chicken, turkey or lean cuts of beef are all good sources of protein which will help you feel satiated and quell acid reflux.

 

Be sure that the meat you eat however, has the skin removed, grilled, broiled, baked or steamed and is thoroughly cooked to avoid harmful pathogens.

Avoid meats that are fried or have creamy or acidic sauces, which can cause acid reflux.

Pregnancy Nutrition: 10 Diet Do’s and Don’ts  When it comes to pregnancy nutrition, the key is to eat foods that will fuel your body and help your baby grow.

Pregnancy Nutrition: 10 Diet Do’s and Don’ts

When it comes to pregnancy nutrition, the key is to eat foods that will fuel your body and help your baby grow.

All intentions of healthy eating and striving for “perfect” nutrition during pregnancy can go right out the window with your positive pregnancy test.

Eating leafy green vegetables may have been your goal but bagels and cream cheese seem to be more your reality. And if you have nausea and morning sickness, saltine crackers and ginger ale is the best meal you’ve had all week.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t know as much as I do now about nutrition. I also didn’t think too much about the foods I was eating.

Of course I knew I shouldn’t be eating chips and chocolate, but I didn’t think indulging was that big of a deal. The problem was, I indulged whenever I wanted. A second helping? Sure. Dessert? Why not.

I’m embarrassed to admit that even though I didn’t regularly eat fast food, I ate McDonald’s once during my pregnancy. After a prenatal appointment. As a “treat.” A pregnant woman “deserves” French fries, right?

After I delivered my daughter and started to research and report more on pregnancy nutrition for Fox News, I learned how important pregnancy nutrition really is.

A healthy pregnancy diet will ensure you give your body and your baby what they need. Eating healthy foods and paying attention to portion sizes can help you control your weight gain and lower your risk for certain pregnancy complications and problems after pregnancy.

But what should you eat and what foods should you avoid? Here are 5 diet do’s and don’ts.

5 Pregnancy Diet Do’s

1. DO Get Folic Acid

 

To prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida, it’s important that you get an adequate amount of folate, a B vitamin, and the synthetic version, folic acid both before you get pregnant and especially during the first 6 weeks of pregnancy.

Experts recommend all women—whether they’re hoping to get pregnant or not—take 400 micrograms (mcg) of a folic acid supplement. Although folate isn’t absorbed as well as folic acid, you can get it from foods like beef, chicken, pork, fish and shellfish, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans and legumes and fortified foods like some cereals.

2. DO Curb Sugar

Your sugar cravings might be out of control but eating too much sugar during pregnancy can cause you to gain too much weight, which can increase your risk for gestational diabetes and later type-2 diabetes, pregnancy complications and birth defects.

Being overweight during pregnancy can also make it more difficult to lose the baby weight after you deliver. And studies show babies born to moms who are overweight are more likely to be overweight themselves.

But it’s not only added sugars from desserts, soda or candy that you should limit, but sugar from refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and anything with white flour like processed and packaged snacks.

Read labels carefully and watch how much sugar you’re eating. When you eat grains, stick with whole grains like rolled oats, quinoa and brown rice, for example.

3. DO Eat Whole Foods

Eating a variety of whole foods not only will give you the nutrition you need, but studies show babies’ food preferences start in utero.

So eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and chances are, your baby will be a healthy, adventurous eater when he starts solids.

 

4. DO Drink Up

During pregnancy, you need to drink more water even if you’re constantly in the bathroom. Staying hydrated is how your baby gets all of the nutrients you consume and. can help you prevent urinary tract infections (UTI’s), constipation, headaches and swelling. Of course, you’ll want to drink up if it’s hot outside or after a workout.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommends pregnant women drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.

 

5. DO Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Studies show eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy is vital for the development of baby’s brain and retina development. Eating these healthy fats may even determine when your baby is born and prevent postpartum depression, according to a 2010 study in the journal Reviews In Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The best source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA, are from fish, which can be tough to get if you’re avoiding it because you’re worried about mercury toxicity.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) however, says it’s safe to eat two, 8-12 ounce servings of fish per week. Fish with low levels of mercury include shrimp, salmon, catfish and pollock. Avoid those with high levels of mercury which include shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. If you eat white albacore tuna, limit it to 6 ounces a week.

Pregnancy Diet Don’ts

1. Don’t Eat For Two

A common misconception about pregnancy nutrition is that you should eat for two but that line of thinking may be the reason 47 percent of women gain too much weight during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Keep in mind the foods you eat are certainly important for you and your baby but that doesn’t mean you should be eating twice as much.

In fact, during the first trimester you don’t need to eat extra calories. During your second and third trimesters, you only need an additional 300 to 450 calories a day.

These are guidelines and can vary if you’re underweight or overweight when you become pregnant, so always talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist to make sure you’re on target. Also, don’t go crazy counting calories: eat until you’re satisfied, not overly full.

2. Don’t Order That Venti

The research isn’t clear, but some studies suggest that consuming too much caffeine during pregnancy could cause miscarriage or low birth weight.

ACOG recommends pregnant women limit their overall caffeine consumption from all sources including coffee, tea, soda and chocolate, to 200 milligrams a day. To put that in perspective, an 8-ounce regular coffee is 95 milligrams of caffeine so have two and you’re at your max for the day.

I love coffee and tea so when I was pregnant, I referred to this caffeine chart on BabyCenter.com.

3. Don’t Forget You Need More Iron

During pregnancy, you need about double the amount of iron than you did before pregnancy so that your body can make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby.

ACOG recommends 27 milligrams of iron a day which you can likely get from your prenatal vitamin.

But be sure to eat iron-rich foods too like beef, chicken, fish, beans and peas and iron-fortified cereals. Also, eating iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C can help your body more efficiently absorb iron. So if you make a vegetarian chili with beans, add in tomatoes, for example.

4. Don’t Eat These Foods

During pregnancy, there are certain foods you should avoid because of the risk of bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause foodborne illness and serious problems for you and your baby. Soft cheeses, lunch meats and raw fish are some but check FoodSafety.gov for a complete list of foods to avoid during pregnancy.

5. Don’t Diet

According to a 2012 survey by SELF magazine and CafeMom.com, nearly 50 percent of pregnant women admitted to restricting calories, eliminating entire food groups and eating a lot of low-calorie and low-fat foods. A few women said they even turned to fasting, cleansing, purging and using diet pills and laxatives.

You might be worried about gaining too much pregnancy weight or losing the baby weight after you give birth but pregnancy isn’t the time to diet.

Be sure to check out the pregnancy weight gain recommendations which take into account your pre-pregnancy weight and if you’re having one baby or multiples. Yet whether you’re overweight or on target, the key is to eat healthy and pay attention to portions.

10 Healthy Energy-Boosting Foods For New Moms  Between feedings, dirty diapers and everything else you have to do to care for your newborn, you’re exhausted. Although there’s not much you can do to get more sleep, you can beat fatigue with healthy foods that will give you energy.

10 Healthy Energy-Boosting Foods For New Moms

Between feedings, dirty diapers and everything else you have to do to care for your newborn, you’re exhausted. Although there’s not much you can do to get more sleep, you can beat fatigue with healthy foods that will give you energy.

After my husband and I brought our first child home from the hospital, I remember thinking, “what’s the big deal? I can do this!”

The minute we walked in the door, he actually put on the TV and plopped down on the couch like not much had changed. I even took a hot shower as my daughter slept.

During that first week, I remember telling my mom that I enjoyed waking up at night for feedings! That didn’t last long of course, when reality—and serious fatigue—set in.

If you recently had a baby, suffice to say you’re utterly exhausted. Between late-night feedings, the endless amount of dirty diapers and laundry and everything else you have to do in a day, being a new mom isn’t easy.

Although you may find it tough to eat a meal, eating healthy foods after you’ve had a baby can give you the energy you need to keep up with your newborn and feel the best you can both physically and emotionally. Here are 10 to include.

1. Bananas

One of the best energy-boosting foods for new moms, bananas are a great source of fiber—1 small banana has 2.6 grams. Bananas also have vitamin B6 and potassium, both of which are necessary for the body to make energy.

2. Eggs

Starting your day off on the right foot with a healthy breakfast will keep your blood sugar levels steady, help you feel satiated until lunch and prevent you from feeling hangry at your next meal which can cause you to overeat.

With nearly 30 grams of protein in one large egg, plus several key nutrients like potassium, eggs will you give you the energy boost you need.

Eggs are also quick to scramble, a great addition to virtually any meal and make for a quick and portable snack.

3. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, but it’s because of their high amount of fiber and protein that will give you an energy boost. Three tablespoons has 9 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber

Add pumpkin seeds to yogurts, smoothies, salads and baked goods.

4. Beans and legumes

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 12 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 49 have iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia and cause fatigue.

One of the best sources of iron are beans and legumes. They’re also an excellent source of protein to satisfy your hunger and they have soluble fiber which is digested slowly and gives you a steady source of energy.

5. Salmon

Salmon is an excellent source of both protein and healthy fats to help you feel satiated and keep your blood sugar levels steady.

Salmon is easy to cook but if you’re short on time, canned is fine in a pinch.

6. Leafy green vegetables

Leafy green vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, Swiss chard and collard greens are all rich in iron and fiber to keep you feeling full and give you energy.

You can serve green leafy vegetables with any meal but one of the easiest ways to get a lot of green leafy vegetables in your diet is to make green juice or a green smoothie.

7. Almonds

One of the best energy-boosting foods for new moms, almonds are a good source of protein, fiber and iron. One ounce of almonds has more than 20 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 1 milligram of iron.

Almonds can help stave off hunger and they make a great snack especially when you’re on the go.

8. Popcorn

Unlike refined or simple carbohydrates which spike blood sugar, whole grain carbohydrates have fiber which keep blood sugar steady and help you to feel full.

Popcorn, one type of whole grains, is a great alternative to chips or crackers when hunger strikes in the afternoon. Stick with plain popcorn instead of brands made with added butter, salt or cheese.

9. Hummus

Hummus is packed with fiber and protein: a 1/2 cup has 7.9 grams of protein and 6.0 grams of fiber.

Serve hummus with baby carrots, pepper or cucumber slices, or swap it for mayonnaise or mustard on your favorite sandwich.

10. Chia seeds

An excellent source of protein, fiber and healthy fats, chia seeds are one of the best energy-boosting foods for new moms.

Mix chia seeds in smoothies, yogurt, muffins or make chia pudding.

 

Folic Acid: Why Women Need It Before and During Pregnancy  Folic acid supplements are vital to prevent birth defects, but when is the best time to take it and how much do you need?

Folic Acid: Why Women Need It Before and During Pregnancy

Folic acid supplements are vital to prevent birth defects, but when is the best time to take it and how much do you need?

About three months before my husband and I started trying to get pregnant with our first child, I took prenatal vitamins with folic acid.

Like any new mom, I wanted to do everything perfectly so I researched the vitamins and minerals—and the recommended amounts of each—that I should take. Since I have a cousin who has spina bifida, I knew about the importance of taking folic acid, so I specifically chose a prenatal vitamin with 1,000 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid, the highest amount that’s safe to take.

If you’re trying to get pregnant, your gynecologist, midwife or provider should also make sure you know to take your prenatal vitamins with folic acid before you get pregnant, during your pregnancy and even if you’re not trying to get pregnant.

Read on to learn why folic acid is so important for all women, how much you should take and how to get folic acid in your diet.

Why do you need folic acid?

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, or vitamin B9. Folate helps make red blood cells and is vital for the growth and function of healthy cells throughout your body.

Taking folic acid before you get pregnant is important to prevent neural tube defects—

birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. Neural tube defects, which include spina bifida, anencephaly and Chiari malformation, occur in approximately 3,000 pregnancies each year in the U.S., according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What many women don’t know is during the first 4 to 6 weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period is when the neural tube forms and when defects occur. The neural tube ultimately becomes the spinal cord, spine, brain and skull.

Whether you’re trying to get pregnant, trying to avoid getting pregnant or don’t think you can get pregnant, you should take folic acid, since 45 percent of pregnancies are unplanned, according to a March 2016 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Studies suggest taking folic acid may also have more benefits for your baby. In fact, a recent study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found moms who were prescribed a multivitamin and folic acid supplement had a 73 percent lower risk for having a child with Autism.

Eating folic acid-fortified foods was associated with an 11 percent reduction in certain heart defects, an August 2016 study published in the journal Circulation found.

Adequate levels of folate during pregnancy may also reduce the risk that a child will become obese, especially those born to moms who are obese, an August 2016 study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found.

How much folic acid should you take?

Although experts say all women of childbearing age should take folic acid, 22 percent aren’t getting enough. Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, so it needs to be taken every day.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM)’s guidelines state before pregnancy, most women should take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin that has 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid or a separate supplement with the same amount. During pregnancy, you can increase folic acid to 600 mcg and 500 mcg if you decide to breastfeed.

If you have a family history of neural tube defects or another medical condition, you should talk to your doctor about whether or not you should take a higher dose of folic acid.

What are the types of folic acid?

Some women who have an MTHFR genetic mutation can’t utilize folate as well so they may need to take the bioactive form of folate.

Foods with folic acid

Folic acid supplements are actually better absorbed and utilized than food. In fact, folate-rich foods are absorbed and utilized at a rate of 80 percent than that of folic acid supplements, a 2007 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Nevertheless, foods rich in folate are still an excellent addition to your supplement. Foods highest in folate include:

  • Beef liver: 215 mcg
  • Spinach: 131 mcg
  • Black-eyed peas: 105 mcg
  • Asparagus: 89 mcg
  • Brussels sprouts: 78 mcg

Additionally, there are certain folic acid-fortified foods such as cereal, bread, pasta, rice and grains. Be sure to read labels carefully. Some of the highest sources of folic acid-fortified foods include:

  • Cereals: 100 mcg
  • White rice: 90 mcg
  • Spaghetti: 83 mcg
  • Bread: 43 mcg

If you’re unsure about how much folic acid and folate you should be getting or if you think you could be deficient, be sure to speak to your doctor.

 

8 Reasons To Avoid Sugar During Pregnancy  You already know you should eat healthy, get plenty of protein, iron and folic acid, but should you also avoid sugar during pregnancy?

8 Reasons To Avoid Sugar During Pregnancy

You already know you should eat healthy, get plenty of protein, iron and folic acid, but should you also avoid sugar during pregnancy?

Between fluctuating pregnancy hormones, morning sickness and intense cravings, rummaging through your kitchen pantry for cookies, chocolate, candy or a sugary treat can become a habit. Or if you hit a 4pm slump, downing some sugar for a quick boost of energy might do the trick.

Of course, sugar isn’t only found in obvious foods like pastries and desserts, it’s also in refined grains like white bread, pasta and processed foods. It can also hide in seemingly healthy foods like yogurt, granola and cereal.

Although you may have been a very healthy eater before your pregnancy, now you might find yourself indulging in sugary foods you used to eat in moderation or avoid altogether.

I won’t lie. When I was pregnant with my first child, I ate whatever I wanted to: bagels for breakfast and a piece of chocolate every day. And if I was at someone else’s house or on vacation, there was nothing holding me back from eating crackers, chips and desserts.

The foods you eat during pregnancy are crucial for you and your baby’s health and although you don’t have to completely eliminate sweets from your diet, you should do your best to avoid sugar during pregnancy. Here are 10 reasons why.

1. Gestational diabetes and type-2 diabetes

One of the most compelling reasons to avoid sugar during pregnancy is gestational diabetes.

Although researchers don’t know what causes gestational diabetes, a condition that affects between 5 and 18 percent of pregnancies, weight is a risk factor. If you’re overweight or obese, your risk for developing gestational diabetes is 2 and 4 times higher than women who have a normal weight, according to an August 2007 meta-analysis in the journal Diabetes Care.

Moms with gestational diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure, preeclampsia and eclampsia. Although gestational diabetes usually resolves itself after pregnancy, women who have it are more likely to develop type-2 diabetes later on in life.

Babies born to moms with gestational diabetes also have an increased risk for high blood sugar levels and being overweight, which can also lead to pregnancy complications.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, experts recommend you follow a healthy diet. Avoid processed, packaged foods and sugary treats and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (ideally low glycemic fruit such as berries), lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Instead of refined grains which spike your blood sugar, stick to whole grains.

2. Pregnancy weight gain

For some women, gaining more weight than they should during pregnancy is inevitable no matter how healthy they eat and how much they exercise.

Yet studies show women are already overweight before they become pregnant and they gain too much weight during pregnancy. In fact, a November 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found nearly 50 percent of women gained more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy.

If you eat a healthy diet and avoid sugar during pregnancy, you’re less likely to gain too much.

3. Fatigue

With all the work your body is doing to help your baby grow and develop, on top of all you have to do each day, chances are you’re exhausted or have some level of fatigue. Yet overindulge in something sweet and you’re bound to crash.

If you’re craving something sweet, opt for low glycemic fruits like raspberries, indulge in treats occasionally and eat foods that boost your energy.

4. Pregnancy complications

If you are overweight, you have an increased risk for pregnancy complications such as obstructive sleep apnea, miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery and cesarean section. You also have a higher risk for blood clots to develop during labor and delivery, infection and problems with the administration of pain medications.

Your baby also has an increased risk for neural tube defects like spina bifida, which can also be hard to diagnose on an ultrasound if you’re overweight. In fact, a June 2017 study published in the journal The BMJ found that the risk of birth defects during baby’s first year of life increases with a mother’s weight.

He could be born prematurely or be born with “macrosomia,” a term to describe babies who weigh more than 9 pounds, 15 ounces. Having a large baby can cause problems during labor and delivery and surprisingly, with breastfeeding.

5. Overweight kids

Studies show babies who are born to overweight moms are more likely to be overweight too. Although poor diet and lack of exercise could be to blame in these families, research suggests it starts in utero.

In fact, an August 2016 study published in Maternal and Child Health Journal found children whose moms gain excess weight or who have elevated blood sugar levels during their pregnancies are more likely to be overweight or obese during their first 10 years of life.

6. Losing the baby weight

According to a December 2013 survey by BabyCenter.com, nearly 60 percent of moms who have 1 and 2-year-olds were still carrying a small amount of baby weight.

Your life is much different after the birth of a baby and finding time to exercise can be tough, but if you avoid sugar during pregnancy, you may be less likely to hang on to those lbs.

7. Bad habits

Whether you started to have a sweet tooth during pregnancy or not, it’s a good idea to curb the habit now before it becomes a long-term problem. After you have your baby, you’ll be sleep deprived—and maybe stressed.

When cortisol, the “stress hormone” rises, you might be more likely to turn to food for comfort. Sleep deprivation also causes your body to ramp up production of ghrelin, the “hunger hormone” which tells your body to eat and slow down leptin, the hormone that decreases appetite. Also, the more sugar you eat, the more you crave.

8. A healthy family

If you avoid sugar during pregnancy and have healthy habits, you’re setting the foundation for both you and your children to have a healthy life. When your kids see you eating healthy, purchasing healthy foods and preparing healthy meals, they’ll be motivated to follow suit.

10 Foods You Should Keep In Your Pantry At All Times

10 Foods You Should Keep In Your Pantry At All Times

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If your goal in 2018 is for your family to eat healthy, meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking meals must be your New Year’s resolution. Of course, having fresh fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator is a good first step but having a well-stocked pantry with a handful of healthy foods will ensure you’ll always be able to quickly whip up a healthy meal. Here, 10 healthy foods you should keep in your pantry at all times.

1. Nuts

Whether it’s almonds, walnuts or pistachios, nuts are a healthy food to keep in your pantry. An excellent source of fiber and protein to keep you satiated and omega-3 fatty acids which are known to lower inflammation, prevent heart disease and stroke, nuts may also ward of cancer. You can serve nuts for an after-school snack, pack them for a road trip, or add them to salads. Watch portion sizes however, because the calories can add up fast.

2. Beans

Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan or are trying to eat a more plant-based diet, beans are one of the healthy foods you should keep in your pantry. An excellent source of both protein and fiber to stave off hunger, beans keep blood sugar levels steady and lower cholesterol. Beans are so versatile—add them soups, salads and stews, make bean burgers or a bean dip, or substitute them in baking recipes that call for oil and eggs. Dried beans are more economical but if you don’t have time to soak and cook them, stock up on canned beans but rinse them beforehand since they are high in sodium.

3. Old-fashioned rolled oats

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating grains, at least 50 percent of which are whole grains and old-fashioned rolled oats are one of the best ways to get them in your family’s diet. A 1/2 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats contains 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein to keep you feeling full. They’re also an excellent source of iron and a good source of phosphorus and selenium. Although old-fashioned rolled oats read labels carefully and purchase those that state “gluten-free” on the package since there is a risk for cross contamination with other gluten-containing grains. Not only can you use rolled oats for breakfast, but they work well if you make homemade granola, added to smoothies and as a substitute for all purpose or whole wheat flour in baking recipes.

4. Quinoa

Classified as a grain but technically a seed, quinoa is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your family and should keep in your pantry. The great thing about quinoa is that unlike other grains, it’s a good source of both fiber and protein: a 1/2 cup has 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. Quinoa is also an excellent source of phosphorus and magnesium, which is known as the calming mineral. Quinoa is also as versatile as rice and couscous but it has a heartier, nuttier taste. Serve quinoa as a side, mixed in with sautéed vegetables or in place of oatmeal for breakfast.

5. Seeds

Flaxseeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are all healthy foods to stock up on. Like nuts, seeds are a great source protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and minerals including zinc, copper and magnesium. Add chia seeds or flaxseeds to smoothies and sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds to oatmeal, salads or vegetarian dishes. If your child is allergic to nuts or your school has a nut-free policy, seeds are also a healthy alternative.

6. Dried fruit

Although fresh fruit should always be your first choice, dried fruit has its own health benefits. Raisins for example, are a good source of iron and potassium. Other types of dried fruit like apricots and dates can be a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Dried fruit can be a quick and easy snack but the best way to use dried fruit is as a replacement in certain baked goods or desserts. Since dried fruit is high in calories and sugar, eat them in moderation.

7. Canned salmon

When you don’t have time to cook but you don’t want to order take-out, having canned salmon in your pantry can make dinner quick, easy and healthy. Salmon is an excellent source of protein and it’s high in B vitamins, potassium, selenium and the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Serve salmon in place of meat, or add it to a salad or sandwich.

8. Broth

Making large batches of healthy soups and stews is a great way to ensure you always have healthy meals on hand and keeping your pantry stocked with low sodium vegetable, chicken or beef broth will help you save time and energy.

9. Anchovies

Love them or hate them, anchovies are a healthy staple to keep on hand. Anchovies are an excellent source of protein—one can has 13 grams—and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also good source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, niacin and selenium. Add anchovies to whole-wheat pasta with veggies, your favorite tomato sauce, bruschetta or paired with a vegetable like artichoke hearts.

10. Brown rice

Brown rice is an excellent source of both fiber and protein: one cup has 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. It’s also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. Brown rice is also a versatile food you can eat as a side or add to soups and stews. To save time, cook a batch of rice ahead of time or use the Instant Pot. Brown rice isn’t a refined carbohydrate like white rice so it has more nutrients, but it has been found to have high levels of arsenic. Be sure to rinse raw rice before you cook it, use 6 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice and drain the water after it’s ready.

Busy Mom? 10 Ways to Eat Healthy When You Have No Time To Cook

Busy Mom? 10 Ways to Eat Healthy When You Have No Time To Cook

After a long day at work, with your kids, after-school activities and errands, getting dinner on the table is probably the last thing you want to do. You don’t want to go through the fast food drive-through or order a pizza, but how can you and your family eat healthy when you have no time to cook?

I totally get it. With a full-time job and this blog, two young kids, a husband who works long hours including weekends, and a household to run, I don’t have a lot of time to cook. Although I’m not pulling off gourmet dinners every night, my family still eats dinner together every night and we still eat healthy. Here are 8 of my secrets.

1. Stock your kitchen with healthy options

When your refrigerator and pantry are filled with healthy food staples, you don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking. Keep salad, cut-up raw vegetables, beans, tuna or canned salmon and nuts and seeds on hand to assemble quick and healthy dinners.

2. Cook ahead of time

Take an hour on the weekends to cut up fruits and vegetables including onions and garlic and put them in glass containers or bags to save time during the week. Cook vegetables, rice, quinoa and other healthy grains and hard-boiled eggs ahead of time or double a recipe put half of it in the freezer for a quick meal when time is tight.

 

3. Buy food that’s already prepped

Instead of wasting time slicing, dicing and chopping, pick up chopped mirepoix, pre-cut or spiralized vegetables, shredded Brussels sprouts or cauliflower “rice.” Sure, it might cost more, but it will save you time in the kitchen.

 

4. Make breakfast for dinner

Who says a healthy dinner has to include traditional dinner foods? One way to eat healthy when you have no time to cook is to make breakfast foods instead. Scramble eggs, make a quick frittata with leftover veggies and add a side of fruit or make a yogurt parfait and dinner is done.

5. Use your appliances

Use a food processor to quickly chop vegetables and herbs, blend ingredients in the Magic Bullet, and throw all of your ingredients into the slow cooker or Instant Pot for quick and easy dinners.

6. Make a list of healthy take-out options

Instead of hitting the fast-food drive-through or ordering curbside take-out from your favorite restaurant, have a list of restaurants that have healthy take-out options. Ordering Chinese? Opt for egg drop soup and steamed chicken and broccoli with the sauce on the side.

 

7. Score at the supermarket

Most grocery stores have plenty of healthy, grab-and-go options or buffets with like broth-based soups, cooked vegetables, sushi, ready-made salads, grilled chicken and quiche.

 

8. Use your freezer

When it comes to eating healthy and getting dinner on the table fast, your freezer is your best friend. Instead of buying frozen meals which are usually high in calories, fat and sodium, make meals ahead of time that can be defrosted and re-heated in a pinch. I make large batches of bean burgers that I re-heat for lunches and dinners.

9. Have a buffet night

If you have a mishmash of various leftovers, put out a buffet and let everyone make up a plate. Fill out the meal by making a large salad or a side of quinoa, for example.

10. Get help

I recognize that cooking doesn’t interest some men, but if your partner is willing and home in time, ask him to cook some of the meals or at least help out. Getting your kids to help out in the kitchen may even prevent picky eating and motivate them to try new foods. Kids as young as 4 can help pour, stir, mix or press the on switch to a blender.

50 Easy New Year’s Resolutions For Moms

50 Easy New Year’s Resolutions For Moms

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Will you make New Year’s resolutions this year? Whether it’s to eat healthy, exercise, get more sleep or stress less, resolutions can help you make improvements to—and take control of—your family’s health.

There’s nothing wrong with setting goals for 2018 of course, but the New Year’s resolutions most of us make are often lofty, vague, broad, or unrealistic so we fail to achieve them. In fact, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February.

As a mom, it only takes a kid to get sick, a busy week of after-school activities or back-to-back snow days to derail your best efforts.

The good news is that you don’t have to make New Year’s resolutions to make meaningful changes that will significantly impact your family’s health. You can set small, realistic and achievable goals that work for your family.

These 50 are easy, small tweaks any mom can do. Pick one or two you can tackle now and once they become more of a habit, chances are you’ll be motivated to try the others.

1. Replace one processed/packaged kid’s snack with a fruit or vegetable.

2. Commit to cook dinner one more night each week.

3. Swap refined grains for whole grains.

4. Eat vegetables for breakfast.

5. Try a new, healthy recipe.

6. Stop drinking soda, sports drinks and juice.

7. Bring your kids food shopping and let them pick a new fruit or vegetable to try.

8. Drink more water.

9. Pack lunch one more day instead of buying school lunch.

10. Purge your pantry of chips, cookies, high-sugar granola, etc.

11. Read nutrition labels.

12. Sign up for an endurance event with your kids. Try active.com

13. Cut sugar.

14. Limit salt.

15. Take a walk after dinner.

16. Snow day? Have an indoor dance party.

17. Teach your kids how to eat mindfully.

18. Swap regular potatoes for sweet potatoes.

19. Put fruit out on the countertop for after-school snacks.

20. Cut up produce and store in glass containers so you can see what you have.

21. Swap butter for avocado when baking.

22. Eat nuts and seeds.

23. Don’t use food as a reward.

24. Have one more family meal together (it doesn’t have to be dinner!).

25. Eat beans and legumes.

26. Teach kids how to recognize their hunger signals.

27. Take probiotics.

28. Eat fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and tempeh.

29. Stop eating fast food.

30. Make green smoothies or green juices.

31. Don’t be a short order cook.

32. Eat less meat.

33. Try a new type of fish.

34. Nix food negotiations.

35. Offer a variety of fruits and vegetables.

36. Don’t stress about picky eating.

37. Order your kids’ meals from the main menu.

38. Eat low-glycemic fruit like berries.

39. Batch cook homemade baby food; rely less on store-bought.

40. Avoid sugary cereals.

41. Don’t let kids eat in the car.

42. Make breakfast a priority.

43. Make a grocery shopping list.

44. Plan meals.

45. Offer two vegetables at dinner.

46. Use your Crock-Pot or Instant Pot.

47. Don’t persuade kids to “take another bite.”

48. Avoid sugary yogurts.

49. Serve smaller portions.

50. Teach kids food is fuel and delicious!

 

 

8 Holiday Stress-Busting Foods for Moms           Between holiday parties, kid’s school events, cookie swaps and family get-togethers, food is everywhere this time of year. Although there’s no getting around all that carb-heavy, fat-laden, fried and sugar-filled fare, you can also stock up on foods that combat holiday stress, easy anxiety and leave you feeling refreshed by the new year.

8 Holiday Stress-Busting Foods for Moms

Between holiday parties, kid’s school events, cookie swaps and family get-togethers, food is everywhere this time of year. Although there’s no getting around all that carb-heavy, fat-laden, fried and sugar-filled fare, you can also stock up on foods that combat holiday stress, easy anxiety and leave you feeling refreshed by the new year.

Christmas is less than a week away and I’m seriously stressed out. Yet what’s surprising is that I’m not one of those mom who aim for the “perfect Christmas.” I don’t bake batches of cookies, search the mall for the perfect gifts, or set up a family photo shoot so we can have the most memorable, Instagram-worthy Christmas cards. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. This year:

  • My husband purchased the Christmas cards and most of the kids’ gifts.
  • I did most of my shopping on Amazon.
  • I already baked and gave the teachers and bus drivers yummy macaroons (Thanks Jenn Segal at Once Upon a Chef for the easy, delicious recipe!).
  • Most of the gift wrapping is already done. I refuse to stay up late on Christmas eve!

Yet as a mom, our jobs are never done. I still have to finish up multiple work deadlines, shop for stocking stuffers, bake two cakes and decide on the Christmas Eve menu and clean my house before the guests arrive. I’m trying not to lose sight of what Christmas is really about—Jesus!—but all of these things still cause me loads of stress.

If you’re feeling the stress of the holidays despite everything you may have done to make things a bit easier, you’re not alone. In fact, a survey by the American Psychological Association, 44 percent of women said their stress levels increase during the holidays versus 31 percent of men. Financial stress is perhaps one of the most significant factors. According to a November 2017 survey by Affirm, a company that offers financing, 61 percent of people say holiday shopping causes marital and family strife.

Although this time of year can make it challenging to prepare healthy meals. grabbing fast food, take-out and snacking on sugary snacks will leave you feeling depleted, anxious and even more stressed out. Instead, focus on whole foods including plenty of vegetables and these 8 holiday stress-busting foods.

1. Pistachios

Not only are pistachios an excellent source of protein that will balance your blood sugar and prevent you from overindulging in sugary treats, but eating them may help you better cope with stress. In fact, a 2014 study out of Penn State found eating pistachios may reduce the body’s response to everyday stress in people who have type-2 diabetes.

2. Eggs

The sun sets early this time of year and with the winter solstice—the shortest day of the year—on December 21, your vitamin D levels may be low especially if you’re indoors most of the day. It’s important to get adequate levels of vitamin D  since studies show vitamin D deficiency is linked to anxiety. With 21 percent of the daily value for vitamin D, eggs are a great source of vitamin D and make for a quick and easy meal any time of the day.

3. Oranges

Instead of reaching for a cookie or a piece of chocolate for a quick energy fix and to satisfy your sweet tooth, opt for an orange instead. Not only are oranges delicious but since they’re high in vitamin C they may also help to combat stress. In fact, according to a 2015 study in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, high school students who were given a vitamin C supplement experienced less anxiety and a reduction in heart rate.

4. Quinoa

Refined carbohydrates like those in holiday cakes, cookies and breads can spike blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. To keep your blood sugar stable and your stress at bay, quinoa is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids and can be made in large batches for all meals including breakfast.

5. Black tea

There’s nothing better than relaxing with a hot cup of tea after a long stressful day and black tea in particular, may have a positive effect on stress. In fact, a January 2007 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology found people who drank black tea for 6 weeks had lower levels of cortisol—the stress hormone—than the placebo group.

6. Kidney beans

Nearly half of Americans do not get the recommended amount of magnesium—an essential mineral—in their diets according to a March 2012 study in the journal Nutrition Reviews. Yet magnesium is well-known for its calming properties and getting adequate amounts of it has been shown to curb stress, a May 2017 review in the journal Nutrients found. Kidney beans are an excellent source of magnesium:  a 1/2 cup has 85 milligrams. Other foods high in magnesium include avocado, brown rice, cashews, edamame and oatmeal.

7. Kefir

Experts say approximately 90 percent of serotonin is actually made in the gut so by giving your gut health a boost, you can also help your brain. Eating probiotic-rich foods like kefir can help boost the healthy bacteria in the gut and in turn keep stress at bay. In fact, a May 2013 study out of UCLA found women who ate yogurt with probiotics had less activity in the area of the brain associated with emotion.

8. Lentils

Not only are lentils a good source of protein and fiber to keep blood sugar levels stable and promote satiety, but they also contain 90 percent of the daily value for folate, a B vitamin which helps make serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, all neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Other folate-rich foods include chickpeas, spinach, asparagus and broccoli.

7 Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy During the Holidays

7 Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy During the Holidays

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Keeping your family healthy during the holidays is always top of mind. Of course, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s celebrations bring plenty of delicious food, sweets and holiday drinks. Not only can the calories add up fast, but with all the running around you and your kids are doing, everyone can feel stressed out, run down and be more susceptible to getting colds, infections and the flu.

Luckily, there are several ways to prevent you and your kids from getting sick and help you stay healthy during the holidays. Here are 7.

 

1. Get a flu shot

 

Last week, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  reported that the incidence of flu is higher than it was this time last year and seven children have already died.

There’s no way to tell how effective this year’s flu vaccine is until the end of the flu season, but since the flu is serious and can be deadly, any amount of efficacy is better than none, in my opinion. In fact, an October 2017 study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found the flu vaccine reduced admissions in the ICU, the duration of hospitalization and deaths.

To find a place that offers flu shots, check the CDC’s flu vaccine finder tool.

If your kid shows symptoms of the flu or you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with his doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can make a diagnosis and prescribe Tamiflu, which may reduce the duration of the flu.

 

2. Take probiotics

 

The gastrointestinal tract—the gut—is responsible for 70 percent of the body’s immunity so it’s important to make sure it’s as healthy as it can be.

 

One way to boost your kid’s immune system and fend off illness is to take probiotics. I like Culturelle Probiotics because they contain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), a type of probiotic strain that is backed by years of research. Yogurt and fermented foods like kefir, kimchi and tempeh are good sources of probiotics too.

 

3. Stock up on healthy meals

 

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can leave little time to cook healthy meals and force you to order take-out, go out to dinner or hit the fast food drive through. Rely on convenience food several days a week and watch as everyone in the family packs on the pounds, feels sluggish and becomes constipated.

To make sure your family eats healthy, use your Crock-Pot to make soups, stews and healthy meals that can be made ahead of time. Or carve out some time on the weekends to make double batches of meals to stock your freezer with and dinners will be a breeze.

 

4. Curb sweets

 

Christmas is a few weeks away but eggnog (my purchase) and chocolate (a gift) have already made their way into my house. Kids should be able to have treats but eating sugar day after day spikes their blood glucose levels, can lead to weight gain and make them feel sluggish, cranky and want more sugar.

We let our kids have a small bite of chocolate after dinner and the rest of it was stored out of sight until Christmas day or until we can re-gift it to someone else.

5. Fill up on fruits and vegetables

 

To make sure your kids are the healthiest they can be, do your best to encourage them to eat plenty of vegetables which will give the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants they need. Some good choices include green leafy vegetables, grapefruit, carrots, strawberries and pumpkin.

You can easily get several fruits and vegetables in smoothies or homemade juices or simply make it a point to add them to every meal and snack.

6. Remind kids to wash their hands

 

Kids are constantly swapping germs: they sneeze and cough on each other, rub their noses, put their hands in their mouths and touch the same germ-infested books, toys and surfaces all day long. When they’re in school, research shows they’re not washing their hands frequently. According to a 2011 survey by The American Cleaning Institute, 43 percent of kids said they don’t wash their hands as much as they should in school because they don’t have the time.

The last thing you want is to have to make your way to the doctor or have a sick kid on the holidays. When they’re on your watch, make sure they’re washing their hands regularly especially if they’re sick, before they eat and always after using the bathroom. Encourage them to wash their hands when they’re at daycare, school and activities too.

It’s also important to teach them proper hand washing practices. Show them how to scrub all surfaces of their hands including their fingernails with plenty of soap and water for 20 seconds—the amount of time it takes  to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Then rinse and dry well. When soap and water aren’t available, encourage your kids to use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

 

7. Stay active

 

Exercise is a great way to boost the immune system but when it’s cold out, kids are usually stuck at home on their iPads.

If your kid isn’t already in some form of sport or after-school activity, consider signing him up. Make exercise a family affair too by taking a hike before dusk, a walk to see your neighbor’s Christmas lights, going to an indoor trampoline park or ice skating rink or simply putting on holiday music and having your own dance party.