Build heart-healthy behaviors for preschoolers at home
(Family Features) A pressing concern like a global pandemic can quickly overshadow other important health challenges facing families. One is the issue of childhood obesity, a problem the slower pace of life brought on by COVID-19 could exacerbate.
Numerous cardiovascular and mental health risks are associated with childhood obesity, and many experts expect to see increases in both mental health challenges and obesity as a result of COVID-19.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity impacts 40% of children between the ages of 2-5, increasing their risk for type 2 diabetes, asthma and depression.
Data from a study published in the “Early Childhood Education Journal” from the American Heart Association shows children diagnosed as overweight between 7-13 years old may develop heart disease as early as age 25. However, preventative steps taken in early childhood can help reduce this risk.
Keeping young children healthy while at home during the pandemic requires extra attention to their nutrition, physical activity and screen time. Programs like the American Heart Association’s Healthy Way to Grow, a national, science-based, early childhood technical assistance program, provide educational resources to help communities, educators and caregivers improve practices and policies for obesity prevention.
These tips from the program can help early childhood professionals and caregivers promote best practices into the daily lives of children.
Less than 1% of children have ideal diets, and under 10% have reasonably healthy diets, according to the American Heart Association. On any given day, 27% of 2- and 3-year-olds don’t eat a vegetable; among those who do, fried potatoes, which are high in fat and lower in nutrients, are most common. In fact, data shows kids eat less nutritious foods up to age 19.
Children should consume a variety of foods daily, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairies, lean vegetable or animal protein and fish. At the same time, kids should minimize trans fats, processed meats, refined carbohydrates and sweetened beverages.
Consistently timed meals and pairing new foods with choices they already enjoy are two ways to help form healthier habits. Be aware that healthy choices should apply throughout the day, not only for meals but also snacks and beverages. Eating together as a family provides an opportunity to model healthy eating and encourage children to try new foods. Also make water available and accessible to children throughout the day.
For infants, feeding provides nutrition for their physical and mental growth. Healthy babies usually double their birth weight between 4-5 months of age. Infants and children with congenital heart disease and congestive heart failure or cyanosis (blueness) tend to gain weight slower. An 8-ounce-1-pound gain in a month may be an acceptable weight gain for a baby with a heart defect.
Only about 20% of kids perform enough activity to meet physical activity recommendations. Whether you’re working with children in a childcare setting or at home, look for ways to incorporate lesson plans that offer learning experiences about healthy eating and physical activity, and ensure the daily schedule includes ample active playtime.
The Healthy Way to Grow program recommends all children, including infants, have at least two outdoor active playtimes daily, weather and air quality permitting. Toddlers should engage in 60-90 minutes while 120 minutes of daily active play is recommended for preschoolers. Half the time should be structured and led by a teacher or caregiver while the remaining playtime should be unstructured and up to the child.
Learn more about protecting the health and wellness of children in your home and community at healthywaytogrow.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
American Heart Association
Steps to help you take control of your asthma
(Family Features) Did you know that asthma affects 1 in 13 people in the United States (U.S.)? Asthma is a long-term condition that can make it harder for you to breathe because the airways of your lungs become inflamed and narrow. If you have the disease – or think you do – don’t tough it out. While there’s no cure for asthma, it can usually be managed by taking a few key steps that can help you live a full and active life.
Here are some important facts to know first:
- Asthma affects some communities more than others. Black people and American Indian/Alaska Native people have the highest asthma rates of any racial or ethnic group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, Black people are over 40% more likely to have asthma than white people.
- Asthma rates vary within some communities. For example, Puerto Rican Americans have twice the asthma rate of the overall U.S. Hispanic/Latino population.
- Some groups are more likely to have serious consequences from asthma. The CDC found Black people are almost four times more likelyto be hospitalized because of their asthma than white people.
- Almost twice as many women as men have asthma.
Talk to a health care provider. You can work with a health care provider to set up an asthma action plan. This plan explains how to manage your asthma, what medicines to take and when and what to do if your symptoms get worse. It also tells you what to do in an emergency.
Know and track your asthma symptoms. Are you experiencing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath? Tell a health care provider about them and make sure to keep track of any changes. That way you and the provider can know if your treatment plan is working.
Identify and manage your triggers. Some common asthma triggers include dust, mold, pollen, pests like cockroaches or rodents and pet hair. The asthma action plan can help you figure out what triggers make your asthma worse and how to manage them.
Avoid cigarette smoke. If you smoke, talk to a health care provider about ways to help you quit. If you have loved ones who smoke, ask them to quit. Do your best to avoid smoke in shared indoor spaces, including your home and car.
Asthma doesn’t have to stop you from leading a full and active life. Find out more about asthma and how to manage it from NHLBI’s Learn More Breathe Better® program at nhlbi.nih.gov/breathebetter.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Stress-free steps toward self-care
(Family Features) Over the last few years, self-care has taken on heightened importance for moms across the country.
That is why Mrs. T’s Pierogies is partnering with actress, entrepreneur and mom JoAnna Garcia Swisher for its “All-Star Moms” campaign to spotlight the importance of finding ways to recharge and help these real-life superheroes prioritize me-time.
Simplifying self-care for All-Star Moms everywhere can be as easy as designating a “recharging room” in the home, which offers a personal space to reset and relax. When creating your recharging room, keep these tips from Garcia Swisher in mind:
- Balance Beautiful with Functional: Find hosting staples like cutting boards, utensils and napkins that match the vibe of your personal space so the area can double as an entertaining space.
- Keep it Easy to Clean: Choose furniture and decor that can handle a little mess from snacks, like Mrs. T’s Mini Pierogies and your favorite dip, which are perfect for enjoying while binge-watching favorite shows.
- Add a Personal Touch: Showcase a piece that tells a story, like a favorite embroidered pillow, piece of meaningful jewelry or framed photo of an amazing memory.
- Bring In Something Cozy: Add cozy touches like a blanket, fluffy pillow or favorite slippers for something comfortable.
- Make a Statement: Let your inner designer shine by taking a chance on something bold that represents a part of your personality you don’t normally indulge.
- Plan an Anchor Piece: This item is the foundation for everything, such as a vintage armchair, comfy couch or storage piece that tells a story. Choose this item first then build around it.
Moms can also prioritize self-care by whipping up an easy-to-make recipe, like these Margherita Pizza Pierogy Skewers, for themselves, a gathering of friends or an afternoon family snack. Pasta pockets filled with creamy mashed potatoes, cheesy goodness and other big, bold flavors, Mrs. T’s Pierogies are simple to prepare. This means more time for moms to do the stuff they love like unwinding from the day with favorite foods in their recharging spaces.
Visit MrsTsPierogies.com for more recipe inspiration.
Margherita Pizza Pierogy Skewers
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
- 1 box (12.8 ounces) Mrs. T’s Mini Classic Cheddar Pierogies
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for brushing pierogies, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1-2 cups mozzarella balls (18 total)
- fresh basil leaves
- bamboo skewers (10 inches)
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
- salt, to taste
- ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat air fryer to 400 F.
- To make pizza skewers: In small bowl, combine cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt, ground black pepper and oregano; toss to coat. Transfer tomatoes to air fryer tray or basket. Cook in air fryer 10 minutes, or until tomatoes are slightly charred; remove and set aside.
- Lay pierogies on same tray or basket. Make sure not to overlap. Lightly brush each side with olive oil. Cook about 12 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Flip halfway through cooking.
- To make pesto: In food processor, process basil; garlic; olive oil; pine nuts; Parmesan cheese; salt, to taste; and pepper, to taste, until smooth. (If preferred, use store-bought pesto.)
- Add one pierogy to bamboo skewer followed by one tomato, one mozzarella ball and one basil leaf. Repeat with ingredients until each skewer is filled. Drizzle with pesto.
Mrs. T’s Pierogies
Dietitian-approved ways to add nutrition to your diet for sustained energy
(Family Features) Nutrition plays a key role in overall health and can positively affect everything from mood to energy levels. When thinking about ways to fuel busy days that will help you feel fuller, longer, look to clean, quality protein, which isn’t just good for muscle growth and repair but also plays an integral part in overall health.
In fact, protein helps keep bones strong, supports your immune system, fuels metabolism to sustain energy, curbs cravings, distributes nutrients throughout your body and more.
If you’re looking for ways to optimize your nutrition intake, it’s important to know the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends the average person consume 10-35% of their daily calories from protein. Some changes like replacing cereal with protein-rich foods like eggs, snacking on healthy fats like nuts or fibrous veggies and fruits, or starting meals by eating the protein first can help set you on the right path.
In honor of National Nutrition Month, consider these bite-sized tips from nutrition expert Steph Grasso, a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), social media influencer and member of the Orgain Nutrition Advisory Board, to help incorporate more quality nutrition into your diet in convenient, delicious ways and keep you feeling fuller, longer:
- Choose nutritious, filling snacks. As part of your preparation for the week ahead, meal prep refrigerated snack containers featuring nuts, sliced cheese, veggies and a fun dip, like hummus. Grab-and-go fuel is imperative to creating balanced eating habits when life gets crazy. Another convenient solution, a high-quality nutrition shake can serve as a delicious option on jam-packed days.
- Maximize nutrition when enjoying sweets. If you have a sweet tooth, adding a scoop of high-quality protein powder to baked goods can be a simple way to sneak more protein into your diet. For example, Grasso recommends adding unsweetened Orgain Plant-based protein powder to these High-Protein Pumpkin Pancakes. With 21 grams of vegan protein and an excellent source of iron with 6 milligrams per serving, organic protein powder is non-GMO and made without added sugar and artificial sweeteners.
- Have frozen veggies on hand. Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious and delicious as their fresh counterparts and often more affordable and convenient. They are typically picked and frozen at the peak of ripeness when they are most nutrient-dense. They are prepped and ready to go, making meal preparation fast and easy. An ideal accompaniment to your choice of protein and grain, this Frozen Veggie Side Dish includes Greek yogurt and cheese for an added protein punch.
Find more tips and protein-packed recipes at Orgain.com.
High-Protein Pumpkin Pancakes
Recipe courtesy of Steph Grasso on behalf of Orgain
- 2 cups oats
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese
- 1/3 cup pumpkin
- 2 scoops Orgain unsweetened plant-based protein powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 egg whites
- nonstick cooking spray
- berries, for topping (optional)
- bananas, for topping (optional)
- nut butter, for topping (optional)
- syrup, for topping (optional)
- In bowl, use blender to blend oats, cottage cheese, pumpkin, protein powder, vanilla and egg whites.
- Spray pan over medium heat with nonstick cooking spray.
- Use 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop batter into hot pan one scoop at a time.
- Flip pancake once pan-side is lightly browned. Remove from pan once both sides are cooked. Repeat with remaining batter.
- Stack pancakes and top with berries, bananas, nut butter and syrup, if desired.
Frozen Veggie Side Dish
Recipe courtesy of Steph Grasso on behalf of Orgain
- 1/2 bag (14 ounces) frozen white pearl onions
- 1 box (8 ounces) frozen quartered artichoke hearts
- 1 box (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (optional)
- 1/4 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Prepare frozen white pearl onions, artichoke hearts and spinach according to package instructions.
- In pan over medium heat, saute onions and artichoke hearts until tender. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add spinach, frozen sweet peas, heavy whipping cream, Greek yogurt and Parmesan cheese. Mix until cheese is melted, and peas are soft.
- Serve with protein and grain of choice, if desired.
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