Healthy Holidays: Kid-Tested, RD-Approved Holiday Gifts

When I was a young kid, I dreamed of becoming an aerobics instructor. I idolized Jane Fonda, tagged along with my mom to Jazzercise each week, and begged for Get in Shape Girl sets each birthday and Christmas (which, in my case, are one and the same!). 

Children of the '80s: Any other GISG fans? 

Children of the '80s: Any other GISG fans? 

Get In Shape Girl lost its appeal to me around, I dunno, adolescence. But in recent years, my love for fitness-related gifts has been rekindled! 

Now that my kids are a little older, I absolutely love giving them gifts that get them off their cute lil’ butts, and sometimes even into the kitchen. Some of these gifts have been so well-received that I've given them to other little ones in our life. 

In the spirit of the holidays, I'll share my secrets  ;). Here are 7 RD-approved suggestions for wellness-related gifts for young kids (think 10 and under). 

1. Organic Cotton Teethers Veggie Crate
$36, Uncommon Goods

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Send the message early on that veggies are fun to eat with this adorable teething set! Babies will love the smiling faces and the bright colors. Caregivers will love that these teethers are soft, easy to grip, and machine washable.

Fresh Organic Fruit Basket ($36) also available. 

2. Lettuce Turnip the Beet Shirt/Onesie
$21.95 and up, Etsy.com

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Let your babes proclaim their love of veggies to the world! From my experience, people love starting up conversations about this darling onesie (which is also available in older kid and adult sizes, if your kids aren’t mortified by the prospect of dressing like their parents yet).

3. LeapFrog LeapBand
$44.99, Amazon

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Santa has brought each of our three kiddos a LeapBand over the years. The kids love it because it encourages silliness and creativity, using animal movement challenges and other fun games. I love it because its customizable controls allow parents to limit access during school and at bedtime. Parents can also set daily usage limits. 

4. Little Partners Learning Tower
$159.99 and up, Amazon
 

MaeMae, using her Learning Tower to make "Carrots a la MaeMae"

MaeMae, using her Learning Tower to make "Carrots a la MaeMae"

Yes, it's expensive. But this tower is a workhorse. We bought this more than 6 years ago and it's still going strong. Our kids started using this as young toddlers for water play at the sink (which is fantastic when you have a busy little one and need to get dinner on the table). But it's still useful for older kids. Our 5-year-old can't quite reach the stove and countertop safely when cooking, and this tower provides just enough of a  boost. 

5. NoCry Cut Resistant Gloves for Kids
$10.99, Amazon

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Do you know what's terrifying for a mother? Letting kids play with knives! The best protection against cuts and kitchen accidents is teaching proper knife technique. But these gloves offer some extra reassurance that precious little digits will be safe. They're a great stocking stuffer for kids who've graduated to adult knives.

6. Curious Chef 3-Piece Nylon Knife Set
$8.91, Amazon

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Let's just say you don't yet trust your kids with grown-up knives (even with cut gloves). This set teaches knife skills in a safe and age-appropriate way. My son started using these just before his second birthday, and he happily sits at the table (or stands on his Learning Tower!) with fruits, vegetables, herbs, and cheese so he can help make dinner. Full disclosure: They're not great for crunchier foods, like carrots. Think cucumbers, berries, bell peppers, peaches, etc.

7. Teeter Popper
Fat Brain Toys, $36.95

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Have you ever coveted your kids' toys? I secretly get kind of jealous when I see my kids play with their Teeter Poppers. They just look so fun! Younger kids can sit and rock in their poppers, while older ones can stand and twist. In the process, the kiddos build up balance, as well as core and leg strength. 

What about you? Have you found any awesome wellness-related kid gifts this season? 

Monday Must-Haves

Hey friends! It's been a while!

Lots of good stuff going on over here lately. I haven't written much on the blog because, well, I've been busy writing for other people!

When I started dietetics school, I always said I wanted to split my time doing PRN work (which is fancy medical speak for "as needed") at the hospital, plus writing. I've reached that spot in my career and I'm really enjoying it! It's definitely been a balancing act as I figure out how to manage my random hospital shifts with writing projects and home responsibilities, but it's well worth the effort. 

At any rate, I've been on a tear recently of finding new products/services that I love. Isn't it the best when that happens? It'd be selfish of me not to share my findings, right? 

So today I'm going to share a few of my new favorite health and fitness-related things. Without further adieu...

1. Ozuke Citrus and Ginger Kraut

I've never been a huge sauerkraut person, but I get such wicked cravings for this stuff. Seriously, I'd worry I was pregnant if I didn't know better.

 

This kraut has a tangy, light, and fresh flavor and is seriously filling. But the benefits extend beyond taste.

Like all true krauts, it's a fermented food. Fermentation encourages the growth of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria. Among other perks, kraut and other fermented foods promote healthy digestion.  

Just based on taste, I could eat an entire jar. But one serving (1/3 cup) does the trick for me at only 10 calories! I love to snack on it if I need a little somethin' somethin' to hold me over until dinner. 

I've also used it as a topping for street tacos or as a side dish for Asian-inspired meals. 

Ozuke offers krauts in several other flavors, but to be honest, I've been so stuck on this one I haven't tried the rest. 

2. PLNK

Crossfit will always be my first love. But I do enjoy mixing it up every now and again. 

Recently, I dropped into PLNK on a whim. PLNK teaches the Lagree Method, which involves 50 minutes of painfully slow movements on this death machine:

 

 If you're not familiar, it's become quite popular among celebrities.

I cruised into PLNK on my first day feeling pretty confident. I'm not crazy athletic, but I have a respectably heavy deadlift and have completed a few Spartans. 

I'm not exaggerating one bit when I say I almost cried 3 minutes into my first class.

It. Was. AWFUL!

And I'm completely hooked. I've been going twice a week since that first day and love love love what it's doing for my body (especially my mom belly). 

More importantly, I truly believe it's helping me with my other fitness pursuits. Since starting PLNK, I've made progress on several Crossfit moves that have always given me trouble. It's so different from anything else I normally do, and I think it's a great complement to other sports. 

While PLNK is exclusive to St. Louis, Lagree classes are available nationwide. Click here to find one near you. 

3. Flavor God Ranch Seasoning

I have a probably irrational fear of most packaged seasoning mixes. 

For some reason, some of the most popular taco and ranch packets gross me out. What is some of that stuff on the ingredients list? 

I've been pretty vocal about my love for King Seasoning. It's a great all-natural alternative to taco seasoning mix. 

Recently, I added Flavor God to my seasoning arsenal. 

Flavor God Ranch includes just 8 natural ingredients and tastes pretty baller (just as good as big-name Ranch seasoning). I love it on popcorn or mixed into my Buffalo chicken. It also plays nicely with King Seasoning. 

As is the case with most packaged seasoning blends, sodium can creep up on you a bit if you eat this in copious amounts. But it packs a huge flavor punch, so a little goes a long way. 

4. Daily Harvest Carrot + Chia Glow Smoothie

Are my kids the only ones who go on serious breakfast strikes? 

Some days, they scarf down a couple of eggs apiece. And others, it's like pulling teeth to get them to eat at all. 

A few days ago, I hesitantly shared a few sips of my favorite Daily Harvest smoothie with the kiddos (because 2-year-old Calvin reminded me, "Sharing is caring and caring is love."). They went crazy for it. 

And really, what's not to like about that? Daily Harvest makes it pretty easy to serve a healthy breakfast on days when I just can't even. 

If you're not familiar with Daily Harvest, they bring conveniently packaged soups and smoothies to your doorstep. You simply pop the lid, add a liquid (almond milk is my favorite for the carrot+chia), throw it all in the blender and give it a few seconds. Easy peasy. 

The carrot+chia tastes like a delicious pumpkin pie/carrot cake hybrid. Ingredients include banana, sweet potato, carrot, walnut, ginger, chia, date, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. 

Each package makes 2 servings, so I'll often divide a serving or so among my kiddos and then add a little protein powder to the blender for myself. This makes a healthy and satisfying breakfast that keeps me full for several hours. 

5. Insight Timer

If you've been following my blog (hi mom), you know that mindfulness is kind of a big deal for me. 

There are so many awesome health benefits to incorporating daily mindfulness practice into your lifestyle. From a nutrition standpoint, it can help you control weight and avoid stress and emotional eating. And in general, it's associated with lower risk for many common diseases. 

But sometimes, I'll admit, it's hard to fit it in the day. 

Recently, the teachers at my kids' school (we have free weekly mindfulness lessons after school--how cool is that?) introduced a group of us to an app that helps make mindfulness meditation easy. 

Insight Timer is free and offers a huge variety of guided meditations, ranging from just a couple of minutes to half an hour or more. It is highly effective in bringing about a state of relaxed clarity.

Lately, when I feel crazy busy and have a to-do list a mile long, I make an effort to stop the panic and do a short meditation instead. This is really helping me to manage my stress and be more productive throughout the day. 

What am I missing, friends? Any great new health or fitness finds you've come across recently? Sharing is caring, I'm told.