Tips to Keep Your Family Active During the Holiday Break

Be sure to check out the following tips to keep your little ones, and adults alike, healthy and active during the holidays.

• Play a game outside. Tag, soccer or touch football are always favorites.

• Hit the slopes. Go sledding or snowboarding at various ski resorts, just a couple of hours away from Orange County. Beginners are always welcome.

• Create a holiday-themed scavenger hunt using holiday items such as ornaments/decorations, gag gifts, candy and more. Get the family moving by placing the items throughout the entire house, even outside.

• Have a family dance party or competition after dinner. Laughing burns calories!

• Make holiday shopping an opportunity to be active. Walk as much as possible. Where possible in some shopping centers, walk from store to store instead of getting back in the car each time between stores.

• Take a walk or bike ride with your kids around the neighborhood. Your local park is a great spot, too. Don’t forget about your dog — take him along to get his exercise too!

• Try a fun exercise class at the gym instead of doing your regular workout routine.

• Use household chores as a fitness class. Assign every family member a task. Pick a favorite tune and turn up the music to get everyone going.

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Gardening Can Keep You and Your Family Healthy!

By Joanne DeMarchi, MA, RD, IBCLC, clinical dietitian at CHOC Children’s

Backyards can be transformed into fruit and vegetable gardens in a few simple steps.  This is a great family activity that has long lasting results.  The food you grow in your backyard is nearly free, fresher than anything you buy at the farmers market and can be perpetual.  Since April is National Gardening month it is the perfect time to start planting!

First, find a place in your yard that gets good sun.  If there is only a small part of the yard that does, buy pots and plant into containers.  Next, decide what you want to plant.  Perhaps choose 2-3 vegetables and 1-2 fruits. One tradition to start is every Mother’s Day plant a fruit tree or other edible plant.  Over time it is wonderful to watch them grow and go into the yard when you need fresh berries, salad greens, a lemon or to pick a fresh orange!

Next, soil counts.  The healthier your soil the healthier and larger your produce yield.  Many gardens in southern California need nutrients added to their soil.  Best advice is to go to your local garden center and ask for expert help.  Another great way to improve your soil and the environment is starting a compost pile.  Compost adds healthy organic nutrients to your garden soil. To start a compost pile, watch this short video from the Sierra Club www.sierraclub.org/Composting

Eating more fruits and vegetables (from your garden or in general) is one of the recommendations from the American Institute for Cancer Research.  In laboratory studies, many individual minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals demonstrate anti-cancer effects.  Yet evidence suggests it is the synergy of compounds working together in the overall diet that offers the strongest cancer protection.  Therefore, choosing fruits and vegetables rather than supplements is recommended.  These bright, healthy, colorful foods contain phytochemicals and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene and folic acid.  

When planning meals, aim to fill at least 2/3 of your plate with vegetables, fruit, whole grains and beans.  When fruit and vegetable intake goes up and replaces higher calorie, less nutrient dense foods, body weight improves.  Increased body fat increases the risk of seven cancers; esophagus, pancreas, colon and rectum, endometrium, kidney, postmenopausal breast and gallbladder.

If starting a backyard garden is too big of a plan, consider growing an herb garden.  No meal is complete without fresh herbs.  Most garden centers have herbs in small pots and finding a sunny window is all that is required.  Growing basil for your tomato and mozzarella salad or rosemary to sprinkle on fish and roasted sweet potatoes turns ordinary into extraordinary and you get all the credit!

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5 Things To Do With Your Family This Fall

Although the weather in Orange County doesn’t feel like fall yet, there are certainly plenty of activities to get you in the spirit of the season. Check out these fun and inexpensive things to do with your family this fall.

1. Visit a Pumpkin Patch – Many include train rides, carnival games, treats and more, which the kids are sure to enjoy.

2. Take a Hike – A weekend morning hike is not only fun for the whole family, but great exercise too! Check out the ocparks.com website to find the nearest hiking trail near you.

3. Go Apple Pickin’– Enjoy a whole day of fun at any of a handful of apple farms nearby – most are about an hour and a half or two away – where you can get back to basics and pick apples, enjoy a great lunch outdoors, and take in the fall scenery. Check online for directions to the nearest one near you.

4. Get Into the Halloween Spirit – There are many local Halloween festivities happening in the next few weeks, including parades, haunted houses, festivals and more. For more info visit the Anaheim Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau website.

5. Shop Fresh and Local – Check out your city website for a Farmer’s Market near you. Take the whole family and have your kids pick out their favorite fruits or vegetables. Make a salad or dessert using their favorite picks!

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Make Some Memorial Day Memories at the Park

The holiday weekend is a great excuse to hit the park for some family fun.  Get the kids away from the TVs, computers and video games for a few hours, and enjoy some outdoor activity together as a family.

• Pack a blanket and a cooler for a picnic in the park.
• If there’s a slight wind, bring some kites along.
• Gather the children and the adults for a big game of kick ball.
• Don’t forget the “oldies but goodies” – Red Light/Green Light, Simon Says, and Freeze Tag.
• Little ones love to collect rocks, leaves and flowers.  Channel that curiosity into a scavenger hunt – supervised, of course!
• And, don’t forget to protect your family’s skin with sunscreen!

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  Fortunately, a trip to the park doesn’t require too much prep work, and helps promote physical fitness and family fun!  Even an hour at your local park creates memories for your kids that will last a lifetime.

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5 Kid-Friendly Activities To Do Over Spring Break

Spring Break is just around the corner for many Orange County kids. Check out these fun activities your kids are sure to enjoy. Do you have any kid-friendly Spring Break ideas of your own? Post a comment and share!

1. Plant a Garden – Kids, especially grade-school level, love digging in dirt, and love the sense of accomplishment that can come from creating something with their own hands. Find some space in your back yard and help them plant flowers or veggies. Gardening can be a great opportunity to spend time together.

2. Plan a Family Vacation – Whether you’re thinking of a quick getaway nearby, or flying out of the country, research some family-friendly destinations your kids will enjoy. Remember to pack plenty of snacks, games and gadgets to help kids stay occupied during the trip.

3. Plan for Easter – Easter is next week! Have your kids decorate Easter eggs, create Easter decorations, or make Easter cards for family members. Get creative and have fun.

4. Visit a Local Park – There are many wonderful parks in Orange County. Go on a bike ride with your kids or plan a family picnic, and enjoy the outdoors together!

5. Movie Night – Spend the evening together in your jammies, watching your kids’ favorite flick. Make popcorn or other home-made goodies together – your kids will love eating something they helped prepare. Use this time to share movies with your kids that you liked growing up. Or, go out and catch the latest kid-friendly movie in theaters.

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