March 24, 2017

Trick your Kids into Healthy Eating by Helen Agresti, R.D.

Trick your kids into Eating Healthy

It’s Halloween Time!  This marks the beginning of the holiday season when we often find ourselves celebrating weeks prior to the arrival of each holiday.

Begin the season of candy, pies, and cookies with healthy goals set in place.  By committing to a healthier lifestyle now, you can save yourself from ever seeing the scale get to that not so pleasant number at the end of December. Candy is always going to be on the store shelves.  Before buying any candy, try waiting a few days or at least a week before Halloween and school parties.  You may not get the best sale price but you will be saving yourself a lot of guilt and calories.

A healthier option to buying candy and treats is to make them yourself with the help of your kids.  Camouflaging fruit with fun kid-friendly toppings is an easy way to trick your kids into eating healthier this Halloween.  Easy treats such as berries drizzled with chocolate, apple slices dipped in yogurt and granola, and chocolate bananas on a stick are nutritious and delicious.  It doesn’t have to be trick or treat this year. Try doing both, and enjoy a healthier holiday season.

Chocolate Banana on a Stick:
1 banana
2 craft sticks
chocolate melting discs
granola, coconut or sprinkles

Cut the banana in half. Insert a craft stick into the flat end. Melt chocolate in double boiler.  Roll banana halves in melted chocolate. Then roll them in granola, coconut or sprinkles. Put into freezer for at least 1hour.  Enjoy or store in an airtight container.

Helen is the founder of Professional Nutrition Consulting and The 24_7 Dietitian app. She’s a mom of 5, contributor for the Huffington Post, triathlete, and chocolate lover. Helen is passionate about educating families on how to cook healthy meals and snacks at home. You can now receive Helen’s Personal Nutrition Coaching thru her 24_7 dietitian app-available on iOS and android. Go to for more info.

Energy Boosting Smoothie by Helen Agresti, R.D.

Energy Boosting Smoothie: Avocado+Kiwi+Pineapple

This sweet and tangy smoothie recipe contains avocado, kiwi, and pineapple — a nutritious trio that delivers a healthy dose of fiber and vitamin C. Avocado provides energy, which comes from its monounsaturated ‘healthy’ fat content. It is also a good source vitamin E, known for its ability to help our skin retain its natural moisturizers. Vitamins C & E work as antioxidants to block cell damaging free radicals. Over time, these free radicals may contribute to the aging process and the development of cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. Enjoy looking and feeling younger with this energy boosting smoothie.

(2 servings)
•    2 cups ice, crushed
•    1/2 avocado
•    2 kiwi, peeled and sliced
•    1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
•    ½ cup almond milk
•    2 teaspoons honey

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.
2. Pour and garnish with a slice of kiwi.

COMING SOON! Helen’s new app: The 24_7 Dietitian app download is FREE, and is iOS and Android friendly.  It is a healthy extension of Pro Nutrition’s passion of helping people achieve their weight loss goals by living a more nutritious and healthy lifestyle.  The 24_7 Dietitian app will allow users to journal and track  their nutrition and fitness goals, post questions and pictures, and most importantly have the ability to have personal nutrition coaching anytime of the day (for a monthly fee of $20). Follow her on Twitter @24_7dietitian and check out her site for more information.

Family Biking Fun by Jennifer Austin

Consider riding bikes for fun as a family. Pick up a bike map at your local bike shop, sit around the kitchen table together and plan a route for a group pedal.

Safety is paramount when riding with little ones. Helmets are a must for all riders. Teach kids these principles so they became safe riders:

Kids in the middle. Riding with one adult in front and one adult behind is a way to make sure everyone stays safe and with the group.

Buddy-up. The buddy system still exists because it works. For big groups, each rider should choose another to keep an eye on.

Focus forward. Reminding kids to focus their eyes forward at all times will insure they see obstacles in the road such as acorns, bumps in the road, tree branches and the like.

Shout it out. When riding with others, communicating about upcoming obstacles or changing direction is nice habit to put in place. For example, simply pointing at the ground as you’re riding by a hazard on the bike path will alert those behind you to something in the road they should be aware of.

Keep it steady. Riding at an even pace adds fitness benefits, but more importantly allows those around you to anticipate your moves. Darting in and out of traffic or speeding up and then randomly stopping creates a hazard to those around or behind you.

Yield to cars. Just because a cyclist legally has the right of way, doesn’t mean the driver sees them. Always assuming the driver does not see you, is a great rule. When in doubt, simply teach your kids to pull to the side of the road, stop and wait for the car, other cyclist, pedestrian, etc to pass.

Rules of the road apply to cyclists too. Cyclists should obey all road rules just as they are required as in a car. For example, teach kids to stop at stop signs, stop for red lights and pedestrians, ride on the correct side of the road, ride in the bike lane single file, and signal to motorists their course (right turn, left turn, etc.)

Pass on the left only. Slower riders should always ride on the right side of the bike path or road, allowing other riders to pass you on the left.

Be seen. Insist every rider wear visible clothing. Choose bright colors, reflectors or even a flashing light that attaches to the seat post is a great idea to insure visibility to cars, other riders and pedestrians.

Ride for fun and boost fitness for the whole family. No mileage or speed requirements. Stop and smell the flowers or check out an interesting sight along the way. Pack a lunch or snacks and sit and relax at your destination for awhile. Just go!

How to Raise Active Kids by Deb Lowther

How You Can Take Action and Raise Active Kids

New parents are often exhausted from ‘chasing their kids’ around, but somewhere between toddlerhood and the teen years, kids slow WAY down. While it is true that there is endless options for kids to spend their down time in front of  TV screens and gaming consoles, I don’t’ think we can blame this generation of inactive kids on technology alone. As kids get older they still need adult role models to keep them moving, make good decisions and have a positive influence in their lives.  This means some of the responsibility falls on us to take action and raise healthy and active kids.

How can we keep kids motivated and ensure they are getting enough activity every day?
Take Action to Raise Active Kids

There is a very good reason my kids are active. We made them that way. We sign them up, we drive them, we practice with them, we bike, run, swim, climb, and we get their butts off the couch and away from the screens. I started when they were very young, the kids and I were always on the move.

Everyday I make sure there is some kind of activity in it.  If they are not in a dance class or meeting friends to play or hanging out in a pool, then we are geocaching, hiking, going for a long bike ride or going to the tennis courts at the park. I even walk them to school.  I don’t have to, they are more than old enough to go on their own, but the exercise is good for me too . . . and the dog! For those days when the family isn’t doing something together, we keep a bin stocked in the garage with tons of toys that inspire creative and active play.

How Can You Raise Active Kids?

Gather Ideas - Make a list as a family of ideas for active things you would like to do together, and when the weekend arrives, pick out an activity from the Activity Jar and enjoy. Our favourites are biking, roller blading, swimming, rock climbing, hiking or geocaching.

Do it Together - Getting outdoors and active is good for everyone, not just the kids.  Kids will model an active lifestyle if they see you living an active lifestyle. Make being active or outdoors just part of who your family is. Sign up for a couch to 5K together, go canoeing, learn to belay so you can take the kids to indoor rock climbing, look for adventure and inspire the kids to come up with active ideas you can all do.

Start New Traditions - Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Thanksgiving, Birthdays and even a school holiday is a time for family togetherness and being active. A long bike ride to the ice cream shop on Mothers Day, 9 holes of golf with the kids on Fathers Day, ice skating at winter time and a Fall family hike on Thanksgiving.

Getting the kids to be more active doesn’t mean signing them up to a dozen after school activities but it does mean encouraging them to join school activities, to make family time about being active together, and modeling an active lifestyle as an adult that will have a positive influence on the kids.

Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 tween daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails. She contributes Family Health articles to many websites and magazines and ensures her own family has fun while eating healthy & staying active.  Find more inspiring tips on her website, Facebook page, Twitter @Deb_Lowther and Pinterest.

Homemade Chocolate Trail Mix by Helen Agresti, R.D.

Homemade Chocolate Trail Mix

Looking for a healthy and easy snack to serve your kids after-school?  A game day tailgate party?
This healthy trail mix is kid approved.  After mixing up a few different batches, this one scored big!  I received 5 smiles.  Everyone loved the sweet and slightly salty mix. The Chex cereal and bunny grahams are an all-natural source of whole grains.  The raisins contain antioxidants and fiber.  The peanuts complete this healthy well-rounded mix with their addition of protein, fiber, and “good” fat.

2 c  Chocolate Naturally Flavored Chex Cereal
1 c  Annie’s Bunny Grahams-Honey Flavored
1 c  Chocolate Covered Raisins (*dark chocolate is a healthier option)
1 c  Roasted Peanuts-Lightly Salted

Mix and enjoy!
*For kids – practice portion control by using small snack size bowls or baggies.


Recipe courtesy of Helen Agresti, R.D. Helen is a Registered Dietician with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and 5 children. For more nutrition advice and healthy recipes follow her on Twitter via @HelenAgresti. For more information, go to

7 Easy Ways to Eat Healthier by Deb Lowther

Healthy Eating – 7 Easy Ways to Eat Healthier

Learning healthy eating habits is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family.  Understanding that healthy food matters and healthy choices do taste good is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for our children as they get grow.

There are many easy and beneficial changes you can make now that will create healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime.

Don’t reinvent your grocery shopping list all at once, try some of these simple changes to make your daily diet include healthier foods. Take recipes you love like pancakes or spaghetti and look for ways to make them healthier by adding fiber from whole grains or nutrients from vegetables.  Without even thinking about it you will start enjoying the benefits of healthy eating.

7 Ways to Start Eating Healthier

- Drink it.  
Drink lots of water.  Replace pop, juice, flavoured waters, fizzy drinks – all of it – with water.  If you need something to jazz up boring water add cucumbers, frozen lemon wedges, or strawberries. Even try freezing berries or lemon into ice cubes and pop in your glass when you refill.  A pretty drink tastes yummier.

Peanut Butter
- Go natural.
Natural. As in one ingredient on the label.  Peanuts.  Yes it tastes different without the hydrogenated oil and added sugars but add sliced bananas or apples, a trickle of maple syrup or honey and your kids will love it.  Peanut butter is a healthy protein to add to any snack but only when it is natural.

- Go for whole.
Whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, whole grain cereal, whole wheat flour, and brown rice.  Remove white starchy everything from your pantry.  Add whole grain oats to everything you bake, make kids lunches with whole grain bread, use whole wheat flour in waffles or pancakes, top whole grain cereal with sweet fruit instead of buying sweetened cereals.

- Go Nuts.
Full healthy monounsaturated fats, almonds are a great snack.  Buy them dry roasted or make your own if plain blanched almonds do not have enough flavour.  Add to salads, grind up in your morning smoothies, crush to coat fish or chicken and serve with cheese and orange slices to add protein to snack time.

Salad Dressing – Say Yes to Yogurt.
Switch to yogurt or vinegar based dressings.  Yogurt based creamy dressings in the refrigerated section of the grocery store have only 1-2 grams of fat per tablespoon compared to a whopping 7 tbsp in most ranch dressings.  Better yet, make your own dressing with rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, a little extra virgin olive oil and use Dijon, lemon or pressed garlic for flavour.

Speaking of Yogurt – Buy Wise.
The yogurt isle is quickly becoming the most confusing stop in the grocery store.  Beware of ‘fat free’, as it usually means artificial sweeteners and flavours have been added to keep the taste after they have removed all the fat.  Try Greek yogurt that has more protein, less sugar and all the calcium and add your own berries or honey to flavour and sweeten naturally.

Add Vegetables – To everything.
I am long past pureed baby food, but having a stock of pureed squash, zucchini, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots in my freezer makes it easy to turn everyday mac n cheese into a healthy meal or otherwise guilty brownies into a healthy snack.  Toss in puréed squash and zucchini to spaghetti sauce or even when baking your favorite muffins and a 1/2 cup pureed cauliflower goes great in scrabbled eggs or quiche!

The idea of healthy eating as a lifestyle is not to restrict what you can and can’t eat but to improve the ingredients of your everyday food and drinks and turn them into healthier meals the whole family will enjoy.

Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails. She ensures her own kids are having fun while being active and eating healthy.  Writing for many website and magazines, Deb’s goal is to inspire others to raise healthy, active families. Follow her on Twitter @Deb_Lowther, and find more healthy tips on her website.

Baked Krispy Kale Chips by Helen Agresti R.D.

Baked Krispy Kale Chips

Have a salt tooth?  This is the easiest and most nutrient dense chip recipe.  Kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family.  It’s relatives are broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts.  Kale chips are a healthy alternative to store bought fried corn and potato chips.  They are packed with nutrients like vitamins C, K, and E.  Kale can help lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol and raise your HDL or “good” cholesterol.

•      1 bunch of kale
•      1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
•      2 teaspoons sea salt
•      2 tablespoons balsamic glaze (optional)

1.  Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2.  With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and dry kale with paper towels or salad spinner.
3.  Place kale in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and combine well.
4.  Spread kale leaves out on cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.
5.  Bake until kale is krispy with lightly browned edges (approximately 15 minutes).
6.  Allow to cool on baking sheet.
7.  Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve!
1 cup < 50 calories


Recipe courtesy of Helen Agresti, RD. Helen Agresti is a Registered Dietitian with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC.  She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and 5 children.  For more Nutrition advice and healthy recipes follow her on twitter @HelenAgresti. For more information and recipes, go to

Stay Active this Winter by Deb Lowther

Having a list handy of nearby indoor family activities that everyone will enjoy is the key to surviving our long cold winter.

Find Indoor Fun for the Whole Family

Beach Volleyball
In the winter? Why not. One location, North Beach Indoor Beach Volleyball in Toronto gives the illusion of tropical surroundings while your bare feet sink into the sand!  There is also a rock wall and a 20 foot blow up obstacle course that will have all ages (even parents) working up a sweat in no time.

Rock Climbing
Kids as young as 4 can join their parents at rock climbing gyms for climbing or a bouldering which is climbing a wall with no ropes or harness.  It really is fun for the whole family, and quite the arm workout.

Roller Skating
The kids all have roller blades and have all mastered ice skating so why not give old fashioned roller skating a try?

Give the kids a long stick and tell them to whack at a small ball. Get your swing warmed up at a local indoor golf simulator or play a family favorite game of glow in the dark mini putt.

Trampoline Park
They are popping up everywhere. Bounce from trampoline to trampoline and challenge each other with crazy jumps into the giant sponge pit. You can LITERALLY jump off the walls or perfect your jump shot with a basketball while taking off from a trampoline floor!

Check out family swims at your local community pool and maybe even buy a seasons pass to make the most of your splash time on cold winter days.

Recreation Center/Open Gym
Many communities have Recreation centers boasting open gym times and provide soccer balls, basketballs, hula hoops, ride on toys and more.

Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails. She ensures her own kids are having fun while being active and eating healthy.  Writing for many website and magazines, Deb’s goal is to inspire others to raise healthy, active families. Follow her on Twitter @Deb_Lowther, and find more healthy tips on her website.

Family Fitness by Brett Klika, C.S.C.S

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) nearly 70% of America’s adults and about 30% of our children are overweight or obese.

It appears these stats aren’t independent.

Research suggests overweight, inactive children often come from overweight, inactive parents.

The cycle of caloric over-consumption and sedentary behavior in the home appears to be taking its toll on all members of the American family unit.

Children’s attitudes and behaviors towards exercise and nutrition are significantly influenced by their parents.  If mom and dad see exercise and quality nutrition as punitive, odds are, the kids will too.

On the other hand, if exercise and nutrition are embraced and celebrated in the home as part of a happy, healthy lifestyle, children learn positive habits for a lifetime.

A family that exercises together THRIVES together.  

Getting off the couch and sweating with your kids not only burns calories and improves fitness for everyone, it can improve your relationship, decrease stress, and increase academic performance.

Here are three tips to getting your family sweating and smiling together:

1.  Make it all about fun
Exercise is not limited to regimented routines.  Anything that is sustained, active, and physically challenging can improve health and vitality.

Find an activity the family likes to do together and do it a few times per week.

2.  Family challenges
Kids and adults both love a little competition.  While adults are often physically superior in regards to strength and other athletic attributes, certain activities can even the playing field.

Get off the couch and challenge your kids to one of these fun family competitions below, right in your living room!

1.  The Get-Up Guru
2. The Endurance Challenge
3. Fast Hands

3.  Speak kindly
Remember, if parents have a negative attitude about exercise and nutrition, their kids most likely will too.  If children hear that “mom or dad exercises because they’re fat and have to lose weight” it sounds like it’s a punishment.

When mom or dad talk about exercise in a positive light, i.e., “mom and dad exercise because it keeps us healthy and makes us feel good” it sounds like a reward.

Try these 3 tips to create a happy, healthy, active family for life!

Brett Klika, author of the Underground Workout Manual- Fat Loss Results for Busy Adults ( is an award winning personal trainer, author, and international motivational speaker.  He inspires men, women, and children around the world to create a culture of wellness in their home and live the best version of their life.
Contact Brett with questions or comments at

Take it Outside by Deb Lowther

Fall Family Fun: 10 Ideas to Take it Outside

There is nothing quite like a gorgeous Fall day when the sun is shining and the leaves falling from the trees are every shade of red, yellow and orange.  Even though the temperatures are also falling, this time of year is the perfect opportunity to take your family outside and make some lasting memories!

10 Ideas to Take Your Family Outside

I guarantee there are hidden gems within a 45 minute drive that are just begging to be explored.  Water falls, tucked away lakes, rolling hills and trails leading through gorgeous forests. Get out there and enjoy.  Google hiking trails around you, check out local ski hills that might be open for Fall rides on the chair lifts or follow that path into the forest near your house just to see where it leads.

A great outdoor experience for the whole family, Geocaching is catching on! The sport of using GSP co-ordinates from your smart phone to find hidden treasures and log books is happening all over the world and right in your own backyard.  A simple download of the Geocaching app and you only need to hit one button that says “Find Nearby Geocaches” and you are off. It will lead you by compass and distance markers right to the area where you need to start looking in bushes, under logs and hanging from tree branches for the hidden cache. When you find it there will be a log book to sign and maybe a treasure to take, as long as your replace it with a new treasure for someone else.  Check out for more information.

Corn Maze
So many local farms are getting in on the Corn Maze craze! Some are elaborate with 20 km of intricate design that families can explore and answer skill testing questions as they go.  Others are easy fun mazes that kids can run in and out of for hours.  Google corn mazes in your area and support local farmers by checking them out.

Apple Picking
The season starts in early September and goes to late October and is a perfect family fun activity. If you are lucky the apple orchard will also have pumpkins on hand and wagon rides. Try all the varieties of apples the farm offers and maybe get your kids in the kitchen when you get home to make some yummy apple pies or healthy Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins for school snacks.

Bike Path
Get those bikes and helmets out and strap on the training wheels. Most cities now boast bike paths that are even riding terrain for the newest cyclists in your family. Bike riding on new paths lead to new adventures and if you plan your journey right, you may even end up at an ice cream shop!

Horseback Riding
If you have older kids, why not look for a local horse stable that offers Trail Rides.  Many have staff on hand that will walk along side riders as young as 3 and have horses that are gentle with beginner riders.

How good is your aim? Think outside the fruit farm and look for Conservation areas or Harvest Festivals nearby that offer archery or log cutting.

Visit a Pioneer Village
Wonder what they do at a Pioneer Village? Go check it out. You might just learn how to make sausages or see demonstrations on candle dipping, historic cooking, apple schnitzing, or grain threshing! Who doesn’t want to learn about apple schnitzing?

Go Fly A Kite
The wind that sets those fall leaves free from the trees is excellent for flying a kite at a nearby park or soccer field. And running after that kite will have the kids flushed and giggling all afternoon.

Leaf Jumping
No Fall Family Fun is complete without a giant pile of leaves to jump in and mess up! Get in on the action. Collect leaves from all the neighbours lawns, rake them into a giant pile and then spend the afternoon rolling around in them with your kids. I promise they will never forget the fun they had watching you make a mess of the leaves.

So much fun to be had outdoors, don’t be afraid to explore new ideas and events in your own community.  You may be surprised at how many new Fall Family Traditions you can create!

Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails. She contributes Family Health articles to many websites and magazines and ensures her own family has fun while eating healthy & staying active.  Find more inspiring tips on her website and follow her on Twitter @Deb_Lowther.