Healthy Children - March 2013

INCCRRA in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services is providing information on childhood obesity through its website. The intent is to communicate to child care practitioners, parents and others who visit the website, the seriousness of obesity in young children and to link them to current research on the issue.

Helpful suggestions for meal planning, recipes and healthy physical activities are presented on this site not just for overweight children but the health of the entire family.

New ideas are listed every month. Each month a new column on this issue of national concern is posted. It answers questions you have regarding heavy children and healthy lifestyles - be sure to check it out.

For more information contact the Illinois Department of Human Services at (217) 785-9336 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also contact your local Illinois Child Care Resource and Referral Agency.

The consumer health information on childhood obesity provided by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies on the site or by any links to other sites is for information purposes only and should not be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, product or course of action. This web site generally links to other sites that are informational in nature and does not link to commercial sites that are primarily intended for the sale of products or services. Use of this site or any links to other sites does not replace medical consultations with a qualified health or medical professional to meet the health and medical needs of you or a loved one. You should promptly seek professional care if you have any concern about the health of you or a loved one and you should always consult your physician before you or a loved one starts a fitness regimen.



Mark Your Calendar! Plan for Active Time!

Healthy Weight Week (third full week) - Read Ezra Jack Keats’sThe Snowy Day, then go outside and build a snowman.
American Heart Month - National Children’s Dental Health Month
Groundhog Day - Play Shadow Tag
National Nutrition Month
St. Patrick’s Day - Make Instruments and march in your own parade
National Public Health Week (week of first Monday)
National Library Week
TV-Turnoff Week
World Health Day (7th)
Earth Day (22nd)
National Kite Month - Make paper kites and go fly them!
National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
Mother’s Day (second Sunday)
Cinco de Mayo - Make sombreros and do a Mexican Hat Dance. Then read The Cat in the Hat to settle down.
Dairy Month
Father’s Day (third Sunday)
Farm to Family begins - Plant a small vegetable garden or in pots. Read Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert.
Fourth of July - Make red, white, and blue stick ponies and gallop in the parade.
World Breastfeeding Week (1st-7th)
Set up a backyard water park with your hose, sprinkler and wading pool.
National 5 A Day Month Family Health and Fitness Day (last Saturday)
Grandparent’s Day (Sunday after Labor Day) - Take a nature walk and collect colored leaves to press, rub, or make pictures with.
Family Member Health Month
Children’s Health Month and Day (first Monday)
Kids Walk to School Week and Day
Rake big piles of leaves and jump in them!
National Children’s Book Week (week before Thanksgiving)
Great American Smoke Out (third Sunday)
Thanksgiving - Take a family walk before and after
Celebrate the first snowstorm - go out and catch snowflakes on your tongue!



Quiet Times

It’s a lot easier for children to get wound up and going than to slow down and stop. Give them time to stop slowly. Their minds need some transition time so that they can begin slowing their bodies down. Remind them two or three times before you want them to stop.

For example: We have about 10 minutes and then we need to get going.
Followed by: We have about five more minutes. Where do you want to spend it?
Then: Okay, time for one last slide, then we’re out of here.

To help your child settle down after active play, try to develop a regular cool down routine. Here are some ideas:

  • Offer your child a refreshing glass of water.
  • Offer your child a favorite comfort.
  • Offer to read your child a story - try the new titles listed in Ready, Set, Dance or an old favorite!
  • Teach your child a special signal that lets them know it’s time to cool down - this could be clapping your hands, holding up two fingers in the air, or singing a familiar song like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Use this signal every time it’s time to settle down.


Avoid using TV, videos, or computers as your main quiet time activity.



Ready, Set, Dance!

Check out these books at your local library.

  • Barn Dance by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
  • Animal Boogie by George Shannon
  • Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
  • My Daddy is a Pretzelby Baron Baptiste
  • Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont and Jennifer Plecas
  • Clorinda by Robert Kinerk
  • Zin! Zin! Zin a Violin by Lloyd Moss
  • Three Cheers for Tacky by Helen Lester
  • My Mama had a Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Gray
  • Hilda Must be Dancing by Karma Wilson and Suzanne Watts



Kid Friendly Recipes

Trees in a Broccoli Forest

This fun recipe allows kids to be creative with their food.

Makes 4 servings
2 carrots, peeled
3 cups of broccoli florets
4 cherry tomatoes
3 Tbsp parsley leaves
Dipping Sauce
¼ cup plain non-fat yogurt
¼ cup low-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
1. To prepare dipping sauce, combine yogurt, sour cream, honey and mustard in a small bowl.
2. Hold carrots against cutting board and trim off ends. Cut each carrot in half, crosswise, then lengthwise to make four pieces. Arrange each plate by putting two carrot pieces side-by-side in the center. Arrange broccoli around the carrots forming a cluster. Arrange the tomates at the top of the plate.
3. Spoon dip around the base of the carrots and sprinkle with parsley.
Nutrition Info Per Serving
Calories 73
Fat 1.5g
Sodium 88mg
Carb 13g
Fiber 3g
Vitamin A 180%
Vitamin C 100%
Calcium 10%
Iron 4%

Fruity Breakfast Parfait

Breakfast is an easy time to include fruit in a child’s diet. This easy breakfast parfait is as fun for kids to make as it is to eat!

Makes 4 servings
2 cups chopped fresh or canned pineapple
1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 firm, medium banana, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1. In glasses, layer pineapple, raspberries, yogurt, banana, and dates.
2. Sprinkle the top with almonds.
Nutrition Info Per Serving
Calories 207
Fat 4.2g
Sodium 42mg
Carb 41g
Fiber 5g
Protein 5.6g
Vitamin A 2%
Vitamin C 70%
Calcium 15%
Iron 4%

Carrot and Raisin Sunshine Salad

This salad is colorful and provides kids with many important nutrients, including vitamin A. It makes a good snack, side dish, or dessert.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 pound carrots (5-6) peeled and shredded
½ cup raisins
1 carton (8 oz.) low-fat vanilla yogurt
4-6 iceberg lettuce leaves
1. Mix all ingredients together except lettuce leaves in a mixing bowl
2. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
3. Toss again before serving. Serve on lettuce leaves.
Nutrition Info Per Serving
Calories 126
Fat 1g
Sodium 95mg
Carb 28g
Fiber 3g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A 310%
Vitamin C 10%
Calcium 10%
Iron 4%

*Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron listed as % of daily value based on 2,000 calories

Seeing Is Believing

Model healthy eating habits to kids by eating fruits and vegetables often. Kids tend to follow the actions of older family members.

Keeping Your Toddler Safe

  • Modify the shape and texture of firm foods. To avoid choking, cut grapes into quarters, chop apples and firm fruits into very small pieces, and cook carrots and hard vegetables until soft, then cut into small pieces.
  • Keep an eye on small children when they are eating. Small children may eat in a hurry, stuff too much food in their mouths, or chew their food inadequately which may cause a child to choke.
  • Prevent injuries by prohibiting children from running or playing when chewing food. Feed small children only when they are sitting down and are in a relaxed atmosphere. Train toddlers to chew their food thoroughly before swallowing.


To find out how many fruits and vegetables you need, plus more recipe ideas, please visit



USDA's Nutrition Assistance Programs
Eat Right When Money's Tight

Check Out


Now More Than Ever, USDA’s Nutrition Assistance Programs Can Help Many families are concerned about the rising cost of food. Read on for tips on how to stretch your food dollars through budgeting, food selection, and low-cost recipes. If you are struggling to put food on the table, USDA’s nutrition assistance programs may help.

Resources: Available For Food

  • Use foods you already have to plan menus. Add missing foods to your shopping list.
  • Know how much money you have to spend on food.
  • Make a shopping list based on the money you have to spend.
  • Buy only the amounts of fresh foods you can use before it spoils.
  • Consider frozen or shelf stable items that last longer.


Planning: Making Meals With Foods On Hand

Before going to the grocery store, check what foods you already have. Once you know what foods you have, ask these questions:

  • What meals and recipes can I make using the foods I have?
  • Can I mix foods together to make a tasty and nutritious meal?
  • Which foods do my family need for good health?



  • Plan what recipes you will make using your list of foods.
  • Use other foods on your list such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to complete the menu.
  • Once you plan your menus, make a new list for missing foods you need to buy.


Shopping: Before, During, and After

Before Shopping
  • Make a shopping list. This helps you stick to your budget.
  • Plan your meals.
  • Planning helps put leftovers to good use.
  • Look for coupons, sales, and store specials.
  • For added savings sign up for the store discount card.


During Shopping
  • Don’t shop when you are hungry. It’s easier to stick to your shopping list.
  • Try store brands.They usually cost less.
  • Compare products for the best deal.
  • Check sell by dates.
  • Buy the freshest food possible. It lasts longer.


After Shopping
  • Store food right away to preserve freshness.
  • Freeze food to prevent spoiling.
  • Divide foods into small portions for children and elderly to prevent waste.
  • Use foods with the earliest expiration dates first.


Tips: Best Buys for Cost and Nutrition

Breads and Grains
  • Look for bargains on day old bread. It costs less but is still nutritious.
  • Buy regular rice, oatmeal, and grits instead of instant to save on money, sugar, and calories.


Vegetables and Salad
  • Buy large bags of frozen vegetables. Seal tightly in the freezer between uses.
  • Avoid pre-bagged salad mixes. They are usually more expensive and spoil faster.


  • Buy fresh fruits in season when they generally cost less.
  • Frozen and canned fruits are a smart choice all year round.


Low-Fat Milk Products
  • Buy fresh, low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese in the largest size that can be used before spoiling.
  • Larger containers cost less than smaller sizes.
  • Ultra-pasteurized milk has a longer expiration date and won’t spoil as fast.


Meat and Beans
  • Dried beans and peas are a good source of protein and fiber. They last a long time without spoiling.
  • Chuck or bottom round roast has less fat and is cheaper than sirloin.
  • Look for specials at the meat counter. Buy meat on sale for big savings.
  • Buy meat in large bulk packages to save money.
  • Freeze portions you might not use right away to prevent spoiling.


USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs Can Help Make Ends Meet

You may qualify for more than Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. If you get SNAP benefits and have children in school, they qualify for free lunch and breakfast. If you are low-income and pregnant, breastfeeding, a new mom or have children under five years old, you might qualify for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a Federal program that provides food to low-income persons. For more information on these programs, contact:

SNAP–Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • For: Eligible low-income people and their families
  • Call 1-800-221-5689
  • To find your nearest SNAP office visit:


WIC–Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children
  • For: Eligible low-income pregnant or breastfeeding women, new moms, and children under age 5
  • Visit:


School Nutrition Programs
  • For: Eligible low-income school-aged children
  • Contact your local school or school district


TEFAP–The Emergency Food Assistance Program
  • For: Eligible low-income persons
  • Visit:


Resources for SNAP Partners, Educators, and the Community

The SNAP-Ed Connection is an online resource center which contains information on healthy eating, using your food dollar wisely, and over 600 low cost recipes in English and Spanish. Visit the SNAP-Ed Connection at:

USDA’s nutrition assistance programs provide assistance to millions of American households struggling to balance their budgets.

For more information, visit the SNAP-Ed Connection Web site.

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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