April 2018 Edition
On average, kids spend twice as long playing on screens as they do playing outside.
Your Healthy, Happy Child
There’s a lot you can do to help your child maintain optimal health and prevent the occurrence of common illnesses. For instance: Do you model healthy eating? Are you exercising as a family? Do you make time to play and relax? Teach your children the following self-care tips and you’re helping them establish a lifetime of healthy habits.
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body. Kids should brush and floss at least twice a day. Good oral hygiene benefits the whole body.
Clean Hands, Healthier Kids. A daily shower or bath is important, but it’s routine hand washing that helps prevent the transfer of bacteria, reducing the chance of diarrhea, respiratory illness, and the common cold.
Guard Against Colds. Teach children to: avoid shaking hands or getting close to folks who are sneezing and coughing; refrain from sharing school supplies and toys with those who are sick; never drink or eat from another child’s containers; always use tissues and cough into the crook of their elbow, not their hands.
Bug Prevention. Lice love warm, cozy places. To prevent the spread of head lice, kids should not wear hats indoors. They should never share brushes, combs, hats, hairbands, or athletic headgear. If lice are present at your child’s school or daycare, consider a short haircut or styling long hair in a ponytail, bun, or braid.
Healthy Hydration. Water is essential to health. It helps flush toxins from the body, maintain healthy circulation, promote strong muscle contractions, facilitate digestion, and prevent dehydration.
Eat a Rainbow. A balanced diet includes a variety of colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains, and high-quality sources of protein. Involving your children in shopping and meal preparation empowers them to make healthy choices and try new foods. Eat at least one meal each day together as a family, without watching TV or having phones and other electronics at the table. This promotes mindful eating and encourages family communication.
A Little Sweetness. If you’re modeling healthy choices around sweets, then it won’t bother your kids (too much) that you’re asking them to do the same. Point out the health problems associated with eating too much sugar (e.g., poor athletic performance, gaining weight, diabetes). However, don’t deprive kids and don’t label foods as good or bad. If they’re making healthy choices 80% of the time, a little sweetness in their diet will be okay-and will be savored.
Strengthen Emotional Muscles. Encourage your child to journal, collage, write poetry or draw comics to express a range of emotions. A ‘what’s up’ notebook between an adult and child encourages kids to open up, tell you about their day, even ask embarrassing questions. Adults who reply honestly and non-judgmentally find this is a great way to start difficult conversations or just get a sense of what’s going on with their child. This works best if you start during the later elementary or early middle school years.
Family Values. Call a family meeting and find out what’s important to each family member and what they think will contribute to a healthy, happy home life. For example, your family might identify respect, responsibility and communication as core values. This exercise sets up expectations for behavior inside and even outside your home. It helps kids feel accountable for their behavior toward themselves and other family members.
Food for Thought. . .
“Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow.” – Abdul Kalam
The Power of Pecans
Whether you call ’em PEE-can or PEH-kahn, they are one of the most sought after nuts around the globe. A cousin of the walnut, pecans are the only major tree nut native to North America. People love pecans for their versatility: They add a sweet, nutty goodness to breads and cereals, stuffing and spreads, salads and side dishes, entrees and desserts. At the same time, they bring a lot of nutrition to the table.
Pecans contain healthy, monounsaturated fats like oleic acid, as well as antioxidants that support heart health by lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing the good cholesterol, HDL. Packed with fiber, pecans support healthy digestion and colon health. Some research shows that diets consisting of pecans (and other healthy nuts) can support a healthy body weight and even help people lose weight. Pecans are a good source of vitamins and minerals that support overall health, including B-vitamins, magnesium, manganese, vitamins E and A, zinc, iron, and folate.
Your family can enjoy the natural, nutty sweetness of pecans as a snack (plain or roasted), sprinkled over yogurt or oatmeal, or sautéed with savory seasonings such as curry powder, sea salt, or paprika. Consider baking with pecans—from cookies to cheesecake and even homemade ice cream.
When purchasing pecans, fresh is best and organic is even better. Look for pecans in the bulk foods section at a grocer that regularly “turns the stock.” Store pecans, and all nuts, in an airtight package away from heat, preferably in the fridge to retain nutrient content.
Pecan Nut Butter
It’s sweet. It’s nutty. And it’s oh so good. If you haven’t yet had pecan nut butter, you have to give it a try. The key to exceptional nut butter is the quality of the nut.
Choose the fresh nuts stored in bulk and rotated frequently. Refrigerated, organic nuts are ideal. Toasted pecans blended with a food processor turn out scrumptiously smooth with maple undertones, without any added oil. A pinch of salt and a dash of cinnamon enrich the flavor. Try it on your favorite breakfast bread or whole grain crackers, or smoothe pecan butter over sliced apple.
Recipe yields 1 cup.
- 8 ounces (about 2 cups) high quality pecans, either whole or in pieces
- Sea salt, to taste
- Dash of ground cinnamon (optional)
- Pour the pecans into a large skillet and toast, stirring often, over medium heat until fragrant (don’t let them burn!). This will take about 4 to 8 minutes.
- Pour the toasted pecans into a food processor or high-speed blender and let them cool for several minutes. Then blend the pecans, pausing often to scrape down the sides with a spatula. The mixture will be crumbly at first, but will eventually blend into super-creamy goodness. Be careful not to let the mixture get too hot, which seems to cause oil separation. You might have to stop and let the mixture/machine cool down for a bit just to be safe. The amount of blending time required depends on your machine- an older food processor might take ten to fifteen minutes to turn the pecans into pecan butter, while fancy Blendtec or Vitamix blenders can turn it into butter in a minute or two.
- Add a pinch of sea salt and a dash of cinnamon (if using). Blend again, taste, and add more salt or cinnamon if needed.
- Pour into a small jar, seal it with a lid, and store it in the refrigerator for good measure. This pecan butter will keep well, refrigerated, for up to one month or so – obviously, don’t eat it if you see or smell any signs that it has gone bad.
Zinc: Essential for Every Body
Zinc is second to iron as the most common mineral in the human body and it’s found in every cell, making it vital to the health and wellbeing of children and adults. Zinc plays an indispensable role in hundreds of biochemical reactions including those that support the development and the health of the blood, skin, muscles, and hormones. Zinc also supports optimal function of the nervous system, immune system, and endocrine system.
Zinc is present in a great variety of foods, such as eggs, seeds, nuts, dry beans, red meat, miso, dark turkey meat, dark leafy greens, and scallops. However, because there is evidence of mineral depletion in soils around the world, your holistic health practitioner may recommend a trace mineral supplement. A zinc supplement might also be recommended for people with a medical condition that affects absorption. Medical researchers are looking at how the body utilizes zinc and whether or not taking zinc can improve treatment for Celiac Disease, diabetes, thyroid function, heart disease, and other health concerns. In other research, a connection exists between taking certain forms of zinc and a reduction in the number of colds in a year, the number of missed school days, and the amount of antibiotics required in otherwise healthy children.
A person’s need for supplemental zinc varies based on age, gender, and other health factors. There are several forms of zinc, but not all are appropriate for every person. For some people, zinc supplements can cause upset stomach or interfere with the actions of other medications. Also, taking too much zinc can have a toxic effect. Consult with your natural medicine practitioner before starting a zinc supplement.
Elderberry: Medicinal Elixir for the Whole Family
For millennia, physicians, and herbalists have found medicinal uses for all parts of the elder tree, including its wood, leaves, flowers and berries. Leaves were used in ointments to heal skin. The flowers and berries were made into infusions as a common treatment for colds and rheumatic conditions. Today, herbalists and holistic physicians commonly recommend elderberry for the wide variety of properties that can support the health of the young and old alike.
European (Black) Elder (Sambucus nigra) is the species safely and most commonly used for botanical medicines. Note that the berries should not be eaten (or used) raw. They must be dried first or properly cooked at the peak of ripeness.
Elderberries are rich in Vitamin C and flavonoids that act as antioxidants that protect cells in the body from damage and can help reduce inflammation. They have been used in preparations to treat colds, flu, and bacterial sinus infection. In studies, syrup prepared from the juice of elderberry has been shown to help decrease the duration of flu symptoms, including swelling in mucous membranes and congestion. Other studies have shown that elderberry extracts have antiviral properties and appear to have a role in inhibiting the replication of viruses.
Elderberry can interact with other medications including those used to treat diabetes, asthma, and drugs that suppress the immune system. Before using an elderberry product for an adult or a child, check with your natural medicine practitioner to verify the integrity of the product and appropriate use.
Kids And Yoga: Discover the Many Benefits
Under the guidance of a certified instructor, yoga classes for kids focus on building upon each child’s strengths while helping them ease stress and bolster self-esteem, cooperation, self-trust, and reverence for one’s inner world. These classes are for kids of all ages and typically use music, activities, and props to create a fun, interactive environment.
Children experience many benefits from participation in yoga classes including:
- Enhanced awareness of, and better control of, their body
- Greater ease connecting to other people and their surroundings
- Confidence and improved self-esteem/ self-efficacy
- Enhanced ability to focus and self-regulate behavior and emotion
- Improved physical skills such as balance, coordination, agility, sense of direction
- Ability to experience relaxation and learn how to access this state of being at any time
Children’s Yoga Teacher Qualifications
The standard credentials for a children’s yoga teacher is completion of a 200 hour Yoga Alliance approved teacher training plus educational or practical experience with children. (If your child has special needs, that is additional qualification/experience you’ll need to explore). Ideally, the instructor has obtained CEUs or certification in teaching yoga for children.
Before choosing a class for your child, ask questions about the teacher’s experience and certification. Also, observe a class and see the range of abilities being taught; trust your intuition about whether or not a class or a teacher is a good fit for your child. A children’s yoga teacher must be able to truly be present for a child just as they are, in the moment, and demonstrate acceptance that every child’s body does yoga differently. This empowers even the most ‘yoga clumsy’ child to gradually achieve a sense of fulfillment and self-efficacy that can carry from the yoga mat to other areas of the child’s life.