Cabin Fever – Find a Cure for your Kids!

By Jenni Purcell

Winter months do bring the holidays, but they inevitably also bring on a case of cabin fever. You might ask: How will I know when my family has come down with this serious illness? The symptoms are easy to spot. You will know by the repetitive opening and closing of the refrigerator, complaining that nothing is on TV and the whining that sounds something like ‘I am bored!’ The good news is that there is a cure! The number one suggestion is to get out of the cabin, if possible (unfortunately, this isn’t always possible). So, on those occasions where leaving the cabin is impossible, it is important to act fast with indoor activities and games to cure your family.

Does your family have Cabin Fever?

 If cabin fever is not addressed immediately it will eventually lead to insanity. Here are 4 simple ways to rid your family of cabin fever:

1.  Get artsy.  You can have your children write thank you notes for Christmas gifts or get an early start on Valentine’s Day cards. Make your own stamps by doing a little vegetable stamping — cut a potato in half, cut the flesh into the shape you desire, and then let your child dip it in some paint and stamp the potato on construction paper.

2. Build a fort.  It’s time to bring out all the extra blankets, sheets and pillows.  Kids love to make forts and mazes with anything that you have around the house.

3. Chef for a day.  Kids love to help in the kitchen and have fun with food. A snowy day is the perfect time to teach children to cook with a simple recipe.  Take this opportunity to teach them the importance of eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals.

4. Dust off the old board games. Checkers, Dominos, and Candyland are just some of the classics and are now as popular as ever.   Uno, Go Fish and basic cards can be used for matching games too.

I found other good ideas at this link as well.

Now after looking at some of these ideas,  create a Cabin Fever emergency kit with craft supplies, games, books, etc. that you can get out when Cabin Fever symptoms start to appear in your family!

Make Your Child Obesity-Proof!

Guest Post By Paula Gustafson, MD

We have all heard the alarming news about childhood obesity: almost one in five of our school-aged children and teens are obese.  Even more are overweight. But did you know that this obesity epidemic affects our infants and toddlers too!

I’m a board-certified pediatrician at Major Pediatrics in Shelbyville, Indiana and mother of 5 grown children. I have both a professional and a personal interest in this epidemic, especially in how to stop it and reverse it.

You don’t have to be a doctor to know that becoming overweight and obese doesn’t occur just as a child starts school.  It starts very early in life in the home.  That’s where you come in.  Together we can PREVENT this from happening by starting our children out on the right path to a healthy lifestyle.  It’s easy and can be done by anyone. Continue reading

Kids in the Kitchen!

Baking delicious treats for gift giving with your children is the perfect remedy to get back to the simple things in life. Even young children can participate by adding and stirring ingredients.Re-create some of your own Holiday happy moments with your children, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews. Baking with children is a wonderful way to teach, share, and connect. When you’re finished, you will have a sweet treat!

Of course baking with children may not be a walk in the park without some ground rules. Baking success starts with appropriate expectations. Give kids jobs suited to their abilities, and praise them generously when they complete a task. Make sure each baking experience is a positive one, even if the results aren’t quite what you expected.

Children as young as two or three can participate in simple baking activities such as pouring, stirring, and decorating. By five or six, kids enjoy measuring, making cookie-cutter shapes, and using a rotary beater. At nine or ten, most children have the coordination to operate electric equipment such as blenders and microwave ovens and the reading skills to understand recipes.

For your first cooking experience, choose a recipe that uses familiar ingredients—sugar, eggs, flour, butter, chocolate chips—and basic techniques such as blending, stirring, and spooning. You may want to teach your children about the

Cooking utensils for kids are affordable and easy to find.

individual ingredients as you use them. For example, milk comes from a cow and eggs come from chickens. To extend the learning experience, later you may even want to take them on a working farm to teach them more about where their food comes from.

It’s natural to worry about safety in the kitchen. But with a little instruction, kids can learn to respect safety guidelines without feeling anxious or fearful. Sharp edges and hot temperatures are a parent’s top concerns. Don’t let young children use sharp knives, and don’t let them use the burners or oven until they’ve had plenty of experience around the kitchen. As you work with the range or oven, explain to your child what you’re doing and why.

Making a mess is inevitable with beginners. Here’s how to keep it to a minimum:
• Spread plastic or newspapers over tables or countertops to minimize sticky messes.
• Wear an apron or clothes that can be easily thrown in the wash. Small children can wear an old T-shirts over clothing.
• Don’t get frustrated and keep your sense of humor. Messes CAN be cleaned up as you go.
Remember you are making fun memories and cooking skills that will last for a lifetime!

Bored with Dinner?

Heather Cupp, a Registered Dietitian working for Riley Hospital, is our guest blogger today. She is a busy mom of two children and knows the stresses of evening meals. We hope that her healthy ideas will inspire your future dinner creations!

Bored with dinner?  Need some easy meal ideas that your family will love?  You’ve come to the right spot! With afterschool practices, games, and other activities finding healthy, creative, and quick dinner ideas can be challenging.  So, here are a few fun ones:

Roll-up:  Tortillas and flat-breads are fun to make dinners with your kids.  Try a flat bread spread with peanut butter then topped with a banana rolled up for a delicious treat. Don’t forget the other food groups!  Adding a glass of milk and some raw veggies with dip completes this delicious meal.

Easy Pizza: 1 whole grain English muffin topped with tomato sauce, turkey pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers, and cheese for each person.  Add a side salad and mix some berries with yogurt for a dessert.  You could also have a fun day with the kids by buying some dough (already made or mix), setting out a variety of toppings, and letting them make their own individual pizzas!

Leftover: Be creative with leftovers.  Use chicken to make quesadillas or BBQ chicken sandwiches.  Leftover ground beef or turkey can be made into sloppy joe’s, patty melts, or taco salad the next day.  Use leftover pork roast to make pulled pork sandwiches, quesadillas, or wraps.  You can also be creative by adding these to a salad. 

Shape, Alphabet, or Other Themed Meals: A “c” themed dinner could include a chicken sandwich with cheese, cucumber slices and carrot sticks on the side with fresh cherries for dessert. A circle theme would have crackers, reduced fat cheese cut-outs, melon balls, cherry tomatoes and other circle foods. Or try an ocean theme: tuna salad with goldfish crackers, broccoli trees with dip and blue Jell-O with fruit for dessert.

My family loves when I make these quick, easy, and delicious meals for dinner. I hope yours does, too! Enjoy!

Looking Back… Indiana State Fair 2010

Elles Niessen, the 2010 Indiana Dairy Princess, is our guest blogger today. We hope that you enjoy learning about her memorable experiences at the Indiana State Fair.

            I realize that the Indiana State Fair has been over for almost a month, but I still want to share my experiences

Elles, second from right, at Indiana State Fair Dairy Show.

from it since I’ve attended it every year since I was in the 4th grade. To make it even better, this year I got to experience it as the 2010 Indiana Dairy Princess. First, I had the privilege of helping hand out ribbons and welcoming everyone to both dairy shows during the State Fair this year. I was also able to attend one of the milking events where we taught the public about the milking process and allowed them to ask questions about it and dairy cows in general. Every day at the state fair, I met and interacted with many new people who share a love for the dairy industry and try a variety of dairy products, like fried butter. For example, I attended the ice cream crank off in the Pioneer Village and taste-tested all of the different homemade ice cream flavors, like chocolate covered strawberry. Yum!

            Not only did I get to experience that event, but I also welcomed and educated the public about the importance of consuming three servings of milk and other dairy products every day while standing outside of the Dairy Bar. I was handing out “I love milk” stickers to kids when an adult asked if she could have some to take home to her grandchildren. This is when I thought of the idea to propose her with a DAIRY question to make her earn the stickers

Elles & Buttercup in the daily State Fair parade.

while engaging her dairy knowledge. It actually turned into a fun game for those waiting in line, while also getting them involved and testing their knowledge one person at a time J . The Dairy Bar also provided me with plenty of milk shakes and grilled cheese sandwiches to keep me on my feet, especially for the evening parade. In the parade, I rode the float with my side kick, Buttercup the Cow. It was probably my favorite part of the State Fair because people knew we were promoting the dairy industry with our logo “Winners Drink Milk.”

            The whole fair experience was great, and I probably had my picture taken over twenty times. I know that there were many girls there who dream of becoming the Indiana Dairy Princess when they get older. Even though you may think I helped the public become more knowledgeable about the dairy industry, I believe this was a great learning experience for me. I only showed Holstein cows and heifers at my county fair, so this opportunity gave me the chance to learn many valuable things about judging different dairy breeds and the specific details judges look for in larger shows like that at the State Fair. I enjoyed my experience greatly and hope to see many more people at Kelsay Farms on October 23rd, where I will next be seen following through with my legend!

Do South Bend School Meal Programs Make the Grade?

By Stefany Jones, Dietetics Intern, Purdue University

The National School Lunch Program provides meals for over 30 million children in the US every day.  Everywhere you look, school meals have come under more scrutiny by the media, parents, students, and those concerned with the health of our youth. Recently, Newsweek issued a “Back to School” feature article highlighting school lunch deficiencies and improvements across the country, and just last week, the South Bend Tribune featured “Send the School Menu to Detention”, written by a seventh grader concerned with the fat content of meals at LaSalle Intermediate Academy in South Bend. Wanting to know more, I set out to interview some of the people involved in meal planning and preparation, as well as observe and experience, for myself, some of our local school meal offerings.

I first stopped at Monroe Primary to observe their breakfast program and to tour the facility with Karen Case, Nutrition Facilitator for South Bend Community Schools.

As I entered the cafeteria, the smell of citrus greeted us. Tables full of students and breakfast trays brimming with milk, oranges, cereal, and breakfast sandwiches filled the room. Moving along to the breakfast line, children began assembling their meal by choosing a carton of milk from boxes of low fat, fat-free, white and flavored milks. Reduced-sugar versions of kids’ favorite cereals, like “Frosted Flakes” and fiber-containing “Total Raisin Bran” were also available. Instead of cereal, students could choose a breakfast sandwich consisting of half of an English muffin topped with an egg, turkey Canadian bacon, and reduced fat cheese. Finally, breakfast-eers could choose a fruit in fresh form or as 4 oz. of calcium and vitamin D fortified 100% fruit juice. Behind the scenes in the kitchen, not a fryer was in sight! “Not a bad breakfast!” said my dietetics intern inner-voice.

On to lunch.

I then ventured on to LaSalle Intermediate Academy for lunch. First, I grab my fat-free milk. Hmm…today’s entrée choices? Filet of fish on a whole wheat bun (tartar sauce, optional) and beef tacos (Karen said that all beef is well drained of fat before it’s included in an entrée). Not being in the mood for either of those, I opted for a pre-made romaine-blend salad (offered daily) topped with chicken, shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, and reduced-fat Ranch dressing. Next, I grabbed an apple from the basket loaded with 4 different fresh fruits daily.  Then, it was time to sit, eat, and mingle with Karen and the kids!

Periodically, school meals are analyzed by a state agency Registered Dietitian for adherence to the USDA’s strict nutrition standards for school meal programs. And how did South Bend’s program measure up? “We were a bit low on calories…our fat content was only slightly over the 30% fat requirement, but our saturated fat fell below the requirement, which is great!” said Karen. Among the school lunch program’s recent improvements, “We’re now offering more fresh fruit and vegetables instead of just canned, and we’re incorporating more whole grain breads.”  Karen says she’s currently working with dairy processors to lower the sugar content in their flavored milks. “We’re always striving to improve the nutrition of our menu offerings,” she adds.

In my opinion, breakfast and lunch both offered tasty and healthy menu options.  What grade would the students give the lunch program? One LaSalle Academy fifth-grader said, “I’d give it an ‘A’ or ‘B’.”

Too Much Caffeine?

Because caffeine is a diuretic, it can cause your body to become weak from not having enough water. Experts estimate that more than 90% of Americans consume caffeine every day, while 11 million Americans consume too much caffeine (over 300 milligrams).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that children and teens guzzle more than 64 gallons of caffeinated soda a year – an amount that has tripled for teens since 1978, doubled for the 6-11 age group and increased by a quarter for the under-5 tots. Some children also have access to energy drinks, powders and pills – all loaded with caffeine, and the result is a lot of kids addicted to caffeine, which can disturb the sleep cycle, shorten attention span and cause mood swings.

Mayo Clinic cites these additional side effects of caffeine: insomnia, heartburn, intestinal upsets, such as constipation and diarrhea, headaches, jitters, anxiety, heart palpitations or rapid heart rate, increase in blood pressure, and temporary depression.

In case you weren’t aware: An 8-ounce cup of drip-brewed coffee typically contains 85 milligrams of caffeine, an 8-ounce serving of brewed tea has 40 milligrams, caffeinated soft drinks contain an average of 24 milligrams per 8-ounce serving and an 8 ounce serving of milk chocolate has just 6 milligrams. So, the next time you’re choosing a beverage for yourself or your kids keep these numbers in mind. In the future, try replacing caffeinated drinks with herbal tea, milk, water, 100% fruit juices or caffeine-free beverages. You may even consider caffeinated soda as an occasional treat for your teen and not as a regular part of the diet.

Instead of resorting to caffeine, try these energy maintaining tips from the University of Illinois McKinley Health Center:

  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Take a brisk, 10-minute walk.
  • Eat regular, healthful meals. The Food Guide Pyramid can help build your meals.
  • Avoid fatty foods. They can make you feel “draggy.”
  • Don’t skip or delay meals.
  • Avoid eating very large meals because digesting a large meal can make you tired.