by Robin M Nuse, RDN, LDN

It seems like everywhere we turn snow keeps piling up and lingering for an unwelcome amount of time causing your kids (and you!) to be stuck inside as well! When it is too cold to go outside, the weather is bad and the kids simply have more energy than they know what to do with, try some of these fun indoor activities to keep them moving. Taking part in these activities can also help you stick with your healthy lifestyle goals!

Painter’s Tape Maze from Rachel Swartley
Work your kids’ minds and bodies with this activity! Create a maze using painter’s tape or masking tape on the biggest open space you have in your house. Challenge you children to find their way through the maze in a variety of ways, guiding a balloon, kicking a ball or simply walking through it. Pull it up and make a new one to keep the activity fresh.

Build a Fort!
While this may not sound like an activity that will break a good sweat like an intense Zumba class, it requires using your muscles to lift and move heavier objects easily elevating your heart rate.

Balloon Paddle Ball from Pen n’ Paperflowers
Have some extra party balloons, paper plates and craft sticks? Then you have yourself a balloon paddle ball kit! Simply attach the craft sticks to sturdy paper plates using hot glue or duct tape to form your paddles and blowup a balloon to use as your ball. Create a net out of boxes or chairs or if you want to be more competitive or simply wander around the house to be more mobile!

Crepe Paper Laser Maze from Brassy Apple

Ready to get tangled up? This is an activity for the agile young kid who needs likes to move! Tape strips of crepe paper to your walls at all different height and angles to make a maze that looks like a laser grid from a spy movie. Have the kids find their way through it without touching the paper. Use time limits, other obstacles or modes of movement to make it more challenging!

Freeze Dance
This is one of my all-time favorites! Play upbeat music and have everybody dance with one person in charge of the pause button. When the music starts everyone starts dancing and stays dancing until the music stops when everyone must FREEZE! If you move while the music is off, you’re out! Last person in wins! Try using different dance moves, holding objects like scarves or hitting balloons at the same time to make things more challenging!

Color Walk from Parenting.com
Gather sheets of colored paper or construction paper and lay them out in equal distances throughout your house without having the same color next to each other. Then use this as a maze to walk around the house while only stepping one color of paper. It’s a lot like real life Candy Land! Use different modes of movement (crab walk, hopping, galloping) or obstacles to make this activity more challenging!

These are just a few activities you do inside to pass time, get moving and burn that “bouncing off the walls” energy that your kids have when cabin fever sets in. You can also include some outdoor activities like tag, hide and seek, musical chairs and hopscotch inside as well. But don’t forget that when it warms up enough to send them right back out! According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, children are recommended to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week to promote a healthy lifestyle

And after of all that activity why not warm up with a little hot chocolate? If you have the time, avoid the packet and the unnecessary add-ins and make it yourself using only 4 ingredients! Check out this homemade hot chocolate recipe adapted from The Chic Life. Stay Warm!

Hot Chocolate
Prep Time: 5min Cook Time: 10min Total Time: 15 min Servings: 1

Ingredients:
1 cup of low-fat milk plus 1 tbsp
2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sugar (or sweetener of choice)
¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
Cinnamon on top? Optional!

Directions:
Place milk in small pot over medium heat.
Combine all dry ingredients in small bowl.
Gradually add dry mixture in to warm milk and whisk continuously. Heat until hot but not boiling.
Stir in vanilla and serve!

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February is a month for hearts, as we celebrate Valentine’s Day as well as National Heart Month. This can be a great opportunity to think about your heart health. Here are some things to consider to keep up with your heart health:

  • Have you had your cholesterol checked recently?
  • How is your blood pressure? 120/80 is considered normal. If it is higher, you may want to be mindful of your salt intake.
  • Are you eating fish 2-3 times each week? Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids which can be anti-inflammatory and important for our heart health.
  • Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, chia and flax seeds are also good sources of heart deathly fats.
  • How is your fiber intake? Women should aim for 25g each day and men should be around 35g daily. Choose fiber from sources such as oatmeal, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. If you need to increase your fiber, be sure to do so gradually and drink plenty of water.
  • How is your activity level? Aim for about 150 minutes each week of moderate exercise, the equivalent of a brisk walk. This is about 30 minutes 5 days a week. Don’t think you can squeeze in 30 minutes at a time? Try breaking it down to sessions of 10-15 minutes at a time. Think of it like having a couple of exercise snacks instead of one big exercise meal!

For more heart healthy tips, check out information from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, and American Heart Association.

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It almost seems like another holiday is approaching, but this weekend marks Super Bowl weekend, which seems like a ritual for splurging on wings, beer, and other snacks. Of course, this does not bode well with those are trying to reach their goals or stick to their resolutions. Fear not! We’ve asked our team of Registered Dietitians for some of their big game party go-to snack ideas. Here is what they had to say:

Kara Shifler, RDN, LDN likes to serve Caprese Skewers for a healthy and delicious option.

Robin Nuse, RDN, LDN suggests Baked Buffalo Cauliflower for a tasty spin on a vegetable dish.

Try some Buffalo Celery sticks from Natalie Zaparzynski-Ritchey, RDN, LDN:
Buffalo Celery Sticks (Modified from Martha Stewart Magazine)
Serves 6
6 Large Celery Sticks (clean and very dry)
1/4 cup low fat cream cheese (room temp)
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles, divided
1/2 teaspoon of franks buffalo sauce (more if you like more heat)
In a small bowl mix low fat cream cheese, 1/2 blue cheese, and frank’s buffalo sauce. Fill stalks with cheese mixture. Sprinkle remaining blue cheese on top. Cut stalks in half or thirds. *If you like heat, sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper.

Stefanie Williams, RD, LDN likes to serve some Polenta Chips as a healthy snack alternative. Here is the recipe:
Polenta Chips
Preheat oven to 450
Ingredients:
2 tubes polenta (plain, prepared)
Garlic infused olive oil
Shredded parmesan cheese
Your favorite marinara sauce

Directions:
Slice polenta into 1/4″ thick rounds (chips)
Layer chips on foil lined baking sheet
Brush chips with garlic infused olive oil – both sides
Place in oven
Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, turning once
In last five minutes, sprinkle w/ shredded parmesan cheese
Serve chips with warm marinara sauce for dipping
I personally like these while warm, but they are good cool as well.
Enjoy!

Anthony Tassoni, RD, LDN likes to experiment with recipes from Registered Dietitian Joy Bauer who has some great ideas for Game Day Swaps.

Kristen Hicks MS, RD, LD likes to add some color to her snack tray with some zesty Cowboy Caviar served with whole grain tortilla chips.

Emma Donnelly, MA, RD, LDN likes to serve Spinach Balls, which can be made gluten-free if needed. Try serving with a side of pesto or sriracha sauce to dip in.

Lettuce wraps are one of my favorite Super Bowl foods, says Alyson Heller, MS, RDN, LDN, ACSM. There are many options for the filling such as chicken sloppy joe lettuce wraps, vegetarian tofu lettuce wraps, chicken taco lettuce wraps, ceviche or shrimp lettuce wraps, and thai chicken lettuce wrap. You can make 1 or even 2+ fillings to please most of your guests (one meat & one vegetarian). Here is an easy light thai chicken lettuce wrap recipe.

Registered Dietitian Elizabeth May, RDN, LDN admits that she loves fries, but tries to put a healthy spin on them when she can, such as this zucchini fry recipe. She also loves serving hummus as a dip.

Some other tips to keep in mind at your game day gathering:

  • Use vegetables in place of crackers, pretzels or chips to dip with.
  • Take what you want, put it on a plate and sit down away from the snack table.
  • Go in to the party with a plan i.e. “I will allow myself to enjoy 2 beers today”.
  • Bring a “safe dish”. Something that you know is healthy,such as a recipe suggested above.
  • Survey the food table. Take a quick tour to see what is available and choose only the foods you will enjoy.