Healthy Choices Jen and John Speak

Tag Archives: Healthy Choices

Fighting the Germ-Fest

With the cold weather comes the germies!

This is that time of year when we begin battling the school germs in earnest. One son has already battled bronchitis, the drips from fall allergies begin, and I shudder to think about what those little hands do before they touch the things my kids touch. After a couple of years of constant sickness in the house, I’ve started to get pretty serious about fighting the germs. Here is some of what we do:

  • Hands get washed the second they get home from school. They’re not allowed to do anything else before that happens.
  • I wipe down the shopping cart handles, sides, etc. I love it when supermarkets provide wipes. But when they don’t, I have my own in my purse. I focus on more than just the top and bottom of the handle…I wipe anything on the cart my kids might touch.
  • I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in the car. It’s in the pocket right behind the front passenger seat. That way I can reach it from the driver’s seat, and the kids can also reach it and pass it around. Whenever we’re out, the first thing we do when we get back in the car is sanitize.
  • All children have been trained to cough/sneeze into their elbows, NOT their hands.
  • Healthy diet. This is always, but especially during the cough/cold season, it helps.
  • Staying home. The second a child shows signs of illness, we pull them out of school. It doesn’t help their immune system or the rest of the kids at school to send my kids back as contributing members to the germ-fest. Instead, they stay home and get better first.

Do we avoid every illness floating around the school? No. But we definitely do better than if we didn’t take these steps. I never want that year of constant sickness again!

How do you avoid the germies passed around school this time of year? Would love to read your tips and hints in the comments below.

Healthy Halloween Treats

My most impressive 100% fruit juice gelatin jigglers from last year's class Halloween party

I’ve written before about how we’re Head Class Parents for 2 of our 3 kids’ classrooms. That means we’re in charge of organizing the annual Halloween Party for these classrooms. We’ve met with the parents and are in the midst of planning. But our school, like many others, has gotten really strict about the food.

There are a couple of reasons. First, allergies have become a big issue. We have to avoid all nuts, and in some classrooms dairy and wheat is an issue. (It stinks to be the kid who can’t snack on the good stuff!)

Then, there’s the “healthy food’ issue. The school wants to make sure the treats the kids have are healthy. That means sugar can’t be the 1st ingredient, avoiding fat, etc. Now while I’m on board with serving healthy food, I do feel like the school goes overboard on this. Particularly because the crap they serve on a regular basis in the lunchroom doesn’t fit the party requirements they require us to adhere to! (but I digress…)

Anyway, here are some healthy snack ideas that the parents in our classes have come up with. Would love to hear if you have any other healthy ideas to share!

  • Popcorn “Hands” – Fill plastic gloves with popped popcorn and serve!
  • Apple “Teeth” – Take apple slices, and cut a slit along the peel side. Add black raisins in the slit as teeth.
  • Fruit Kabobs – Black and orange fruit on skewers (oranges, blackberries, etc.) It’s color themed!
  • Spooky “Fingers” – Cut string cheese in half. Then cut green or red pepper pieces into triangles that are about 1/2 inch long and 1/4 inch wide at the base. Cut a small slit in the rounded end of the string cheese half, and insert the pepper triangle (which now looks like a pointy fingernail.) (Or make these.)
  • 100% Fruit Juice Jigglers – Boil 100% Fruit Juice and then add Knox unflavored gelatin (follow the directions on the back of the Knox packet.) Pour into a 13″ x 9″ pan and refrigerate to set. Then use Halloween-themed cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes. Serve on Halloween-themed cupcake liners.
So what other healthy Halloween treats do you serve at class parties, or with your kids at home? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Eating Healthy On the Go: Some of My Favorites

Traveling as much as I do, I can’t always eat as well as I want to. We all know conference food isn’t healthy (and I speak at a lot of conferences) and the office lunch that they order in when I come for an all-day consulting meeting isn’t exactly high on the list of health food either. Add to that airport food, which varies dramatically depending on where you fly, and I found when I first started traveling that I was putting on weight. Not good!

I’ve since learned to take control in a few ways.

  • I always make and pack the next 2 meals I’ll eat, and put them in an insulated lunch tote that fits over the handle of my rolling suitcase. (I got mine from Thirty-One, and I can’t live without it!) For breakfasts, I’ll make an egg white and cheese sandwich on a whole grain English Muffin (the 100% Whole Wheat ones from Fiber One are my favorite) with fruit, and lunches or dinners are often hearty spinach salads with chicken, fruit, and nuts.
  • I also pack 100 calorie packs of almonds, fruits that don’t need refrigeration and travel well, like apples and oranges, and Kind fruit and nut bars (greatest bars EVER.)
  • I bring unsweetened instant oatmeal packets, unsweetened dried mango slices, sliced toasted almonds, cinnamon, nonfat dry milk, and a spoon for breakfasts in the hotel. Add hot water from the coffee machine in the room in a mug, and healthy (and cheap!) breakfast is served. (And in the other mug I make coffee with Starbucks Via, which is SO much better than hotel room coffee machine coffee.)
  • I pack my sneakers. I always try to hit the gym or a nearby running trail in the morning before my meetings. It gives me a burst of energy for the day, and it also helps to offset any of the bad food I’ll inevitably wind up eating.

By eating right at home and on the road, as well as running 4-5 times per week, I’ve taken off 20 lbs in the last 4 months.

But I also like it when restaurants I see everywhere help me make good choices. And Starbucks has recently launched a line of “Bistro Boxes” that help me do that. Instead of plastic-tasting, calorie-laden fast food choices, these are real food. I’ve tried the Chicken Lettuce Wraps (360 calories) and the Sesame Noodles (350 calories), and they are both awesome, packed with veggies, and delicious. And each one comes with a cute little bite-sized square of dark chocolate to complete the meal.

Filling, healthy, delicious. Starbucks really scored a home run with these.

How do you eat healthy on the go? How do you plan ahead? What are your healthy go-to spots when you need a good meal while you’re out and about? Would love to read your ideas and tips in the comments!

p.s. This is an unsolicited product review. Just my own 2 cents about products I love.