Posts in: Healthy Eating

Creative Ways to Build School Lunches that Nourish

Posted in: Family, Healthy Eating, Preventative Health // 0 Comments


Fruity Jewelry

Whole grain O cereal
Dried Fruit
Elastic Cord

1. Puncture holes in the dried fruit with skewer.
2. String the dried fruit and O cereal onto the elastic cord.
3. Tie cord to fit either as a bracelet or necklace for your child.

Silly Sandwiches

Soft Bread
Sandwich fixings of choice
Cookie Cutters

1. Make a sandwich your child enjoys.
2. Take your cookie cutter and align in the middle of the sandwich.
3. Press down firmly, and trim around the cookie cutter.
4. Remove sandwich from inside the cutter mold.

Bento Boxes

Bento boxes are Japanese lunch boxes divided into compartments. There are a variety of ways to create fun presentations with this type of lunchbox, because much like opening a present in a box, when you lift the lid the entire lunch is presented to the child.
1. Fruit: Arrange fruit in a silly face or a flower to make it more visually appealing.
2. Sandwich: Add a face to the outside of the sandwich with raisin eyes and cheese smile.
3. Rainbow colors: Choose lunch foods that represent the colors of the rainbow, from red apple triangles, to orange slices or cheese cubes, to green spinach wrap pinwheels, blueberries, and red grapes.

Dr. O Knows

Posted in: Family, Fitness, Healthy Eating // 0 Comments

One of Jacksonville’s leading pediatricians shares her top ten tips on how to start the school year on the right track

As summer ends and families on the First Coast gear up for the next school year, there are some important things to keep in mind to be proactive about the shift from vacation mode to education overdrive. Success at school starts at home, and studies have shown that students perform at a higher level academically with good nutrition, healthy sleep habits, and a supportive learning environment. We sat down with Dr. Alyin Ozdemir of Pediatric Associates of Jacksonville, and she gave us her “Ten Commandments” designed to kick start your school year off in the right direction.

1. Enforce healthy habits of eating, sleeping, snacking and playing (computer games.)
2. Stick to a routine. Kids like consistency.
3. Create a “Launch Pad”- have a single place to put backpacks, jackets, etc.
4. Designate a quiet study space for homework, where you are on hand to assist.
5. Read, again and again. Read books to them, with them, and let them “catch” you reading to yourself. Children learn by example.
6. Learn always – There’s only so much teachers can do. Look for ways to teach your child throughout the day. For example, cooking combines elements of math and science. Use the time when you make dinner as an opportunity to read and follow directions, to discuss fractions, to make hypotheses (“What will happen when I beat the egg whites?”), and to examine results.
7. Take the lead – Children learn by example. Let your kids “catch” you reading. Take time to learn a new skill and discuss the experience with them. Sit down and pay bills or do other “homework” while your kids do their schoolwork. If you display a strong work ethic and continually seek out learning opportunities for yourself, your kids will begin to model that same behavior in their own lives.
8. Talk Often – Do you know how your child feels about her classroom, her teacher, and her classmates? Talk with her about what she likes and doesn’t like at school. Give her a chance to express her anxieties, excitements, or disappointments about each day, and continue to support and encourage her by praising her achievements and efforts.
9. Show interest – Meet the teachers and stay in regular contact by phone or e-mail so that you can discuss any concerns as they arise. Not only will it pave the way for you to ask questions, but it will also make the teachers more comfortable with calling you if they have concerns about your child.
10. Expect Success – Perhaps the most important way you can support your child’s efforts at school is to expect him or her to succeed. That doesn’t mean that you demand they be the best student or the best athlete or the best artist. Rather, let them know that you expect them to do “their best” so that they’ll be proud of what they can accomplish. If you make that expectation clear and provide a home environment that promotes learning, then your child will have a greater chance of becoming the best student they can be.

To learn more about health issues that affect your family, visit

Kid Tested, Mother Approved Snacks

Posted in: Family, Healthy Eating // 4 Comments


By Christi Elflein

Making sure our kids eat healthy foods (and us mom’s too) is one of our primary jobs as a mother. The easiest place to go astray in the healthy food department is with snacks. The key is to have plenty of healthy snack options that are easy to grab and within everyone’s reach. These are the six snacks I always have in stock:

Fruit – Piled high in a wicker basket on the kitchen table, fruit is the first food anyone sees when entering my kitchen. Apples, oranges, bananas or whatever is in season works. Mangos are dominating my basket today. If mom is coordinating the snack, slice up the apples and bananas and add peanut butter.

Nuts – A glass jar of pistachios sits on my countertop for easy handful grabs. Any kind of nut will do!

Granola – Sit a variety of granola bars on a low shelf in your pantry. You’ll be surprised at how fast they disappear. Or make your own granola trail mix with your kids. Start with a plain granola base and then let them add what they like such as dark chocolate pieces, dried fruit, nuts or even cereal.

Cheese – Cheese sticks are my five year old’s go-to-snack. Mozzarella string cheese, cheddar sticks, or a twisted combo can be found in the fridge drawer at her eye level. Blocks of gourmet cheese are tucked away in there too for me.

Yogurt – Yogurt is not just for the fridge. Try freezing the tube-shaped yogurts for a yogurt popsicle on a warm day.

Hummus – Homemade or store bought is up to you. I take the easy route and buy it from the grocery store. Hummus is perfect for dipping baby carrots, sliced cucumbers or crackers in.

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